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NYC Pension Funds fully divests from private prison industry

New York City Pension Funds is fully divesting from the private prison sector, following concerns of alleged human rights abuses across the industry.

The pension fund sold roughly $48 million of stock and bonds from GEO Group Inc., CoreCivic Inc. and G4S Plc, according to a news release from the New York City comptroller.

The news release reported findings by federal investigators last year that private prisons have higher rates of security and safety incidents per capita compared to their public counterparts. Private prison companies, such as GEO Group and CoreCivic, also operate private immigration detention centers, where 65% of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees are imprisoned.

In fiscal year 2017, at least eight immigrant detainees have reportedly died while being kept in these private facilities, and the White House plans to expand the use of private prisons and detention facilities to house detainees.

"With Donald Trump in the White House, we're seeing more and more industries try to profit from backwards policies at the expense of immigrants and communities of color," New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said. "Divesting is simply the right thing to do — financially and morally."

Stringer also directed the pension funds' investment managers to withdraw all investments in companies that generate at least 20% of their revenue from private prisons, including direct investments and stock owned as part of an index fund.

Following concerns about widespread health and safety violations and human rights abuses, the trustees of the pension fund voted to study divesting from the segment in September 2016. After the analysis found that divesting would add minimal or no risk to the pension funds' portfolios, and that such decision would not violate the trustees' fiduciary duty, the trustees voted to divest in May.