As of June 30, 2013, Columbia owned 230,432 shares, worth a market value of roughly $8 million, in Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison company in the United States.
For the past thirty years, CCA has been profiting from the increased incarceration of peoples within the United States. Through its membership in, heavy funding of, and collaboration with the American Legislative Exchange Council, CCA has had extensive involvement in the push for harsh sentencing policies such as mandatory minimums and “three-strikes” laws which have contributed to the 500% increase in the prison population over the course of CCA’s lifetime. Continually profiting from the exponential increase of immigrants in detention, CCA also remains one of the largest contractors of ICE detention beds and directly benefits from the recent wave of harsh immigration policies. Columbia also has significant investments in G4S, a British multinational security services company that works with Homeland Security in the U.S. and provides security systems for detention and interrogation facilities, checkpoints and high-security prisons globally. CCA and G4S are reaping incredible profit from the continued incarceration and detention of people in this country, and Columbia’s investments demonstrate its complicity and interest in a future with more and more people behind bars.
Furthermore, it is communities of color, international communities, LGBTQ communities and working class communities who are disproportionately targeted by all levels of the United States penal system, from police profiling to biased conviction patterns. Many of us personally identify with these communities, and Columbia’s investments in CCA and G4S effectively communicate to us that the fundamental dignity and worth of those communities—our communities—is not a priority for Columbia. It is hurtful, angering, and unacceptable.
This is a call for action:
1. We want Columbia to immediately divest all shares from CCA and G4S, and provide a public statement confirming its divestment from these corporations.We want Columbia to adopt a permanent negative screen for CCA, G4S, and the GEO Group (the second largest private prison company in the U.S.) to confirm that Columbia will not invest in these companies in the future.
2. We want Columbia’s fund managers to reach out to each of the following companies in which the university is invested insisting that they divest from CCA and the GEO Group. We want proof of this being completed. These 36 companies each own over one million shares of and collectively over two thirds of CCA and the GEO Group :
American Century Companies Inc., Ameriprise Financial Inc., Balestra Capital LTD., Bank of America Corp., Bank Of New York Mellon Corp., Barclays Global Investors, Blackrock Fund Advisors, Carlson Capital LP, Cramer Rosenthal McGlynn LLC, Dimensional Fund Advisors LP, Eagle Asset Management Inc., Epoch Investment Partners Inc., FMR LLC, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Hamlin Capital Management, LLC, ING Investment Management LLC & Co., Invesco LTD., Jennison Associates LLC, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Keeley Asset Management Corp., Lazard Management LLC, London Co. Of Virginia, Makaira Partners LLC, Managed Account Advisors LLC, Morgan Stanley, Neuberger Berman Group LLC, New South Capital Management INC, Northern Trust Corp, Principal Financial Group Inc, Renaissance Technologies LLC, River Road Asset Management LLC, Scopia Capital Management LLC, State Street Corp, Suntrust Banks INC, Vanguard Group INC, Wells Fargo & Company
3. We want more transparency regarding Columbia’s investments. We are now only able to access information on 10% of Columbia’s investments, but we believe that as members of the Columbia community we should be made aware of the remaining 90%.