Monday 23 January, 2012
Occupy Nashville to Participate in National Day of Action Against Holders of Private Prison Equity
Jan. 23, 2012
Wells Fargo: Dump Prison Stock; Occupy Nashville to Participate in National Day of Action Against Holders of Private Prison Equity
NASHVILLE — Occupy Nashville on Tuesday will protest Wells Fargo & Co., at the bank’s downtown location for its extensive holdings in two private prison companies as part of the National Prison Divestment Campaign happening simultaneously in at least 15 cities.
Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), a recipient of billions of bailout dollars, is a major contributor to politicians who have championed tougher penalties for crimes and detention of non-criminal immigrants.
Occupy Nashville protesters will assemble on Legislative Plaza at 11 a.m. on Tuesday and march to Wells Fargo. At noon, protesters will picket the bank and deliver a letter encouraging the bank to divest from GEO and CCA. The protesters will also distribute fliers and talk to customers about moving their accounts to banks that don’t make money off people’s incarceration.
Wells Fargo owns over 4 million shares, or 6 percent interest, in GEO Group (NYSE: GEO) and about 50,000 shares of Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America (NYSE: CXW). Together, CCA and GEO represent the vast majority of for-profit-prison business in the United States. In the case of Wells Fargo’s GEO holdings, the bank holds more stock than GEO’s management.
We call on all public and private institutions to divest their holdings in private prison companies.
Since the private prison divestment campaign began on May 12, 2011, GEO’s stock value has lost 33.32 percent of its value, or $8.58 a share. CCA’s stock has tumbled 11 percent.
Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained half a percentage point during the same time period.
Hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management divested over 7 million CCA shares after CCA’s role in profiting from detaining immigrants was made public. The United Methodist Church has divested all its holdings from CCA and the GEO Group. The church’s pension is the largest faith-based pension fund in the U.S. and among the top 100 pension funds overall.
For-profit prison companies make more money when they have more “customers.” Those companies, which rely on billions of tax dollars as their primary source of revenue, have successfully lobbied federal and state governments—even in Tennessee—to adopt and implement policies that have led to the incarceration of millions, and specifically over one million immigrants over the past three years.
A recent report by The Houston Chronicle and PBS demonstrated that rape and sexual abuse of detainees is rampant across the increasingly privatized federal immigrant detention system.
CCA spent $14.8 million lobbying the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. House and Senate between 2003 and 2010.
Wells Fargo and GEO share the same lobbyists in Washington.
“Political comedian” Bill Maher, in a 2009 editorial in The Huffington Post, wrote, “Prisons used to be a non-profit business. … The CCA and similar corporations actually lobby Congress for stiffer sentencing laws so they can lock more people up and make more money. That’s why America has the world’s largest prison population—because actually rehabilitating people would have a negative impact on the bottom line.”
The private prison industry, in league with its major investors, is the largest financial force behind overpopulation in prisons, despite the fact that the number of crimes committed in the United States has dropped over the past two decades.
Tuesday’s protest aligns with the GAIM USA conference in Boca Raton, Fla., the largest annual gathering of hedge funds and large corporate investment managers in the U.S. Protesters with the National Prison Divestment Campaign and associated Occupy Wall Street groups will converge on the conference on Tuesday as well.
Download the flier for this action HERE