On Wednesday, June 26, Bank of America announced that they will no longer finance companies who run private prisons and immigrant detention centers.
“We have decided to exit the relationship,” Bank of America Vice Chairman Anne Finucane told Bloomberg. “We’ve done our due diligence that we said we would do at the annual meeting, and this is the decision we’ve made.”
Previously, Bank of America was one of the largest remaining financiers of private prisons, issuing revolving lines of credit, term loans, and bonds to both GEO Group and CoreCivic, well-known names within the private prison industry. They also gave a $380 million loan and a $75 million revolving credit line to Caliburn, the company responsible for the Homestead, a Florida detention center for child immigrants currently being paid $750 per day, per child.
The announcement comes following increasing public pressure from political leaders, investors, shareholders and grassroots activists after it was revealed that a Trump Administration lawyer argued in court that children in detention did not require basic hygiene items such as soap and toothpaste in order to be “safe and sanitary.” Believing the issue to be one of cost, many people gathered to donate items such as diapers, wipes, soap, and toys for children being held at a Texas facility. However, Border Patrol agents staffing the facility turned them away.
GEO Group and CoreCivic argued that Bank of America misrepresented them, stating that while they do run centers on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they don’t operate facilities that house unaccompanied minors. “The GEO Group has never managed any facilities that house unaccompanied minors, nor have we ever managed border patrol holding facilities,” GEO Group Chief Executive Officer George C. Zoley said in a statement to Bloomberg.
The Families Belong Together Corporate Accountability Committee applauded Bank of America’s decision, saying:
“Today’s announcement by Bank of America to stop lending to the private prison industry and immigrant detention companies is an enormous victory for the millions of people and more than 100 organizations who have raised their voices, signed petitions, and protested at bank branches across the country to demand an end to financing the morally bankrupt private prison industry.”
Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist and editor whose work has been featured in publications such as The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, Examiner.com, and others. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_