PORTLAND, Ore. –Today the City Portland institutes a new Socially Responsible Investments (SRI) Committee becoming the first city in the country to include people of color to oversee its investments due to the demands of family and friends of immigrants detained at a GEO Group facility, a historic victory in the national Prison Divestment Campaign. Just last month, Columbia University became the first university to divest from private prisons. Using divestment, public Institutions and local cities are denouncing private prisons, sending a massive blow to an industry that thrives on using tax dollars to lobby for laws to detain and deport communities for massive profit.
After pressure from Enlace, Voz and the Portland Private Prison Divestment Coalition, in December 2014 the Portland City Council unanimously voted to implement a Socially Responsible Investments (SRI) policy that will consider corporate abuses of human rights, such as those committed by private prison company GEO Group which operates the Tacoma, WA Northwest Detention Center. The vote included an initiative to include people directly impacted by mass incarceration and immigrant detention on the committee that will make recommendations to set city investment and divestment priorities.
"Every single day, Portland people have been arrested and sent to the Tacoma detention center. The suffering of these people, it's so painful for me. The city should say not one more cent to the detention center in Tacoma and the separation of communities. The GEO Group and their investors are making money off the suffering of people who live and work in Portland. The City should not invest one more cent in this suffering," said Romeo Sosa, executive director of Voz Workers Education Project.
For-Profit Prison Industry leaders, the GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) together with the Million Shares Club (major investors owning over one million shares combined of CCA and GEO stock) have played an outsized role in lobbying for racist laws like the detention bed quota that target people of color and immigrants for incarceration, and expand the police state in poor communities.
"We applaud the City for standing up against private prisons and including directly impacted people in the process. We hope that Oregon Senators see this and also act--to end the millions in tax breaks for private prisons and to end the detention bed quota,” stated Jamie Trinkle, Enlace Campaign Coordinator.
The Prison Divestment Campaign is a collaboration of immigrant rights, criminal justice, faith, labor, LGBTQ, students and worker centers working together to end the prison industry, deportations, and detention, and to demand reinvestment in humanity.