Did you know…
…that Columbia University has roughly $10 million invested in Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and G4S–two of the largest private prison firms in the world?
…that last year, the Chairman of the Board of CCA was inducted onto the Board of Trustees at Belmont University, and that Belmont hosted a “CCA power lunch” in which they proposed to “continue what is already a strong bond between CCA and the [Belmont Business School]”?
…that in 2012, students successfully blocked the private prison company GEO Group from donating $6 million to Florida Atlantic University’s athletic program in exchange for naming rights to the FAU stadium?
As the links between colleges and private prisons come to light, students are finding ever more reasons to hold their schools accountable for their complicity in an industry that has locked up thousands in inhumane conditions and helped drive waves of criminalization and incarceration for immigrants and people of color.
Over the last four months, we at REC have been working with youth around the country and our allies at Enlace and Dream Defenders to create a training and visioning space so that we can begin to constructively disrupt ties between universities and the private prison industry.
In exactly one week, this space will be realized! My colleague Lauren and I will be heading to Miami, FL, where we will be joining 40 young people from around the country to talk about prison divestment. Together, we will gain the skills and resources to halt our universities’ investments in prison profiteers like CCA and the GEO Group, and to redirect our institutions’ resources towards investments that strengthen our communities rather than criminalize and fragment them.
At this first ever National Prison Divestment Youth Retreat, participants will learn strategic research, base building, and campaigning. They’ll dig into private prisons and industry connections to the education system. They’ll develop critical relationships with each other and movement elders. Maria Rodriguez of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, whose work bridges environmental and migrant justice, and Desmond Meade of the PICO Florida Lifelines to Healing Campaign to end gun violence will keynote this exciting weekend.
Since the national campaign began in 2011, we have already caused a long list of firms (ranging from Pershing Square Capital Management to most recently DSM Netherlands, Amica Mutual Insurance and Scopia Capital) to move hundreds of millions out of private prison companies. But this fight is far from over. In spite of continuing reports of abuse in immigrant detention centers and other private prisons, the prison profiteers are continuing to make record profits and influence legislation.
Fortunately, the student and youth movement is only getting started. From three active campaigns this past spring, we are looking forward to bringing youth from over 20 college campuses to gain tools to start their own campaigns this fall!
Help us make this convening possible! Please donate what you can today to strengthen the movement against profit-driven mass incarceration and immigration enforcement, because private prisons are a public problem!
– Ian Trupin
Responsible Endowments Coalition
Responsible Endowments Coalition · United States
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