Company – ActiveThis profile is actively maintained
Company – ActiveThis profile is actively maintained
Why this profile?
CoreCivic profits from the incarceration of migrants and their use as a source of cheap labour. Despite a 2021 ban on the use of for-profit private detention facilities at the federal level in the US, incarceration rates in private prisons are on the rise. Detainees are often separated from their families and endure poor living conditions and exploitative labour practices.
What must happen
Given the well-known and protracted nature of the human rights violations at CoreCivic’s facilities, banks and other financial institutions should stop financing CoreCivic and divest of holdings in the company that they own or manage, including nominee shareholdings and shares invested in index funds.
|Sectors||Prisons and Immigration Detention|
listed on NYSE
CoreCivic's largest shareholders are the Vanguard Group and FMR. A full overview of the company's shareholder structure can be accessed here.
CoreCivic, formerly the Corrections Corporation of America and established in 1983, is a US company that owns and operates private prisons and immigration detention centres. Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, the company is one of the largest private prison companies in the United States. CoreCivic owns or manages more than a hundred state and federal correctional and detention facilities.
Impact on human rights and communities
Mistreatment of detained persons CoreCivic, together with the GEO Group, is one of the major managers of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centres. These companies have been described as relying "on a business model based on forced labour" and are linked to evidence of inhumane conditions, abuse and death at their facilities
The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, an independent watchdog agency that oversees ICE, issued a damning 2019 report documenting widespread abuse at ICE detention centres. It found “immediate risks and egregious violations of detention standards”, including “overly restrictive segregation, inadequate medical care, unreported security incidents, and significant food safety issues”. A 2018 study found that for-profit detention facilities generate 175% more grievances than government-run facilities. Private prison companies have perverse incentives to make business decisions that negatively impact people being detained, for example as cost-cutting measures often affect the mental and physical health and safety of detainees.
Forced labour Detainees at CoreCivic’s facilities are forced to work for $1 or less per day, often under threat of punishment or loss of privileges. Tasks detainees are forced to perform include washing laundry, preparing and serving meals, performing clerical work, providing barber services, and other activities. Some detainees claim they are often not given adequate training or safety equipment. These allegations have repeatedly been raised with the company throughout the years, and in numerous instances lawsuits were filed. These lawsuits show the extent of the human rights abuses perpetrated by CoreCivic under its so-called “voluntary work programs”; for example, detainees who decline to work extra hours, refuse to work while being unwell, or voice concerns about unsafe working conditions, risk being placed in solitary confinement, lose family visitation privileges, or even face legal charges. CoreCivic hugely benefits from this system of cheap, and often free, labour, which saves the company millions of dollars per year.
Deaths at detention centres Cost-cutting measures at for-profit detention centres can result in inadequate medical care, understaffing, and inadequate training for staff, all of which can contribute to an increased risk of deaths among detainees. Between October 2003 and February 2018, 179 detainees died in ICE custody, 15 of which were held at CoreCivic’s Eloy Federal Contract Facility in Arizona. More recently, in 2021 an investigation into the 2018 suicide of Efraín Romero de la Rosa, who was held at CoreCivic’s Stewart Detention Center in Georgia, reportedly the deadliest immigration center in the US, revealed that the company’s personnel had falsified records, inappropriately placed de la Rosa in disciplinary solitary confinement, and failed to adhere to appropriate protocols for mental healthcare.
In 2022 advocates started calling for closure of CoreCivic’s troubled Torrance County facility, where detention conditions are some of the worst in the country. This followed the death of a number of inmates, including a Brazilian asylum seeker who committed suicide as a result of continued mistreatment and abuse.
Family detention and separation of children from their parents The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contracts with several facilities to detain families with children. Three such facilities are maintained across the United States: one in Pennsylvania and two in Texas. The South Texas Family Residential Center in Texas is run by CoreCivic and is the ICE’s largest immigrant jail, with a capacity to hold 2,556 people. The Center has held families and small children in appalling conditions, often in overcrowded quarters and with poor health and medical care. This is evidenced in a lawsuit filed by the mother of a toddler who died from a “preventable and treatable illness” after CoreCivic failed to provide standard medical care. Until 2021 this facility was designated for mothers and children, but is now used to jail adults.
In addition, a policy of “zero tolerance” for illegal entry to the United States, passed in 2018, resulted in over 3,800 children being separated from their parents at the border. Many of these children were held at CoreCivic’s facilities. CoreCivic provided false information about its role in family separations, and tried to hide this with a lawsuit. This was dismissed in 2020, finding that the company “did, in fact, operate detention facilities for parents separated from their children.”
Rioting and hunger strikes Detainees at CoreCivic facilities often protest against forced labour and poor living conditions. For example, in October 2022, asylum seekers held at CoreCivic’s Torrance County Detention went on a hunger strike to protest “inhumane” conditions, including “mold growing in the bathroom, raw food, fungal infections on men’s heads due to unsanitary barber tools and an excessive amount of flies and mosquitoes.” A lawsuit later revealed that protests at Torrance County were repressed with violence. In another instance, inmates at CoreCivic’s La Palma Correctional Center and the Red Rock Correctional Center in Arizona protested following CoreCivic’s inaction to address a prolonged power outage, which had greatly impacted living conditions. Numerous riots and hunger strikes also took place during the COVID-19 pandemic in response to CoreCivic’s inadequate measures which put the lives of many detainees in danger. Strikes broke out in CoreCivic’s facilities in California, Georgia, Florida, New Jersey and Ohio.
Profiteering from detainees Detainees at GEO Group and Core Civic facilities are charged for all kinds of services and have to use for-profit money transfers, like Western Union or Global Tel Link, to pay for them. Phone companies can charge prisoners as much as USD 25 for a 15-minute phone call. Health care, ankle monitoring, drug testing and food services are outsourced to companies through lucrative contracts.
Lobbying CoreCivic spent over USD 30 million between 2000 and 2023 to lobby the US Congress and federal agencies. For instance, from 2019 to 2021, CoreCivic lobbied the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which is in charge of regulating federal banks. The OCC had proposed a “Fair Access to Financial Services” rule to prevent large banks from refusing services to “controversial” companies, including private prison corporations, based on “political reasons.” The rule was put on hold in 2021. In addition, CoreCivic also spends considerable sums to influence politics and electoral campaigns. For example, the Migration Policy Institute shows that CoreCivic, together with GEO Group, dished out a half-million dollars to Trump’s inauguration committee.
Lawsuits Throughout the years, CoreCivic has faced numerous lawsuits relating to human rights issues. A few recent examples include:
In February 2023, the immigrant justice group Al Otro Lado sued CoreCivic for the wrongful death of Anthony Jones, a Bahamian man who died of a heart attack at the Adams County Detention Center in Mississippi in December 2020. The suit says staff failed to send him to the hospital and waited at least nine minutes before administering CPR.
A 2020 lawsuit filed by four individuals incarcerated at one of CoreCivic’s Colorado prisons alleged that they were forced to work for 42 cents per day. Refusal to comply with work assignments, such as sweeping kitchen floors for 10 cents per hour, resulted in the loss of visitation, good time earnings, commissary access, or other punishments.
Five similar lawsuits alleging forced labour in CoreCivic’s facilities were filed between 2017 and 2018 (Owino v. CoreCivic and Gonzales v. CoreCivic in 2017 in California; Barrientos v. CoreCivic, Ndambi v. CoreCivic, and Martha Gonzales v. CoreCivic in 2018 in Georgia, New Mexico, and Texas, respectively).
As of May 2023, twelve banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, UBS, BNP Paribas, Goldman Sachs, Swiss National Bank, HSBC, Barclays and Credit Suisse among others, had substantial share holdings in CoreCivic. See below for more details on banks involved.
In 2019, eight banks announced that they will no longer finance companies that operate private prisons and detention centres. These include Bank of America, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Fifth Third Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Truist Bank, US Bank and Wells Fargo.
Prior to this, ten banks, including Bank of America, Fifth Third Bank, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Macquarie, PNC Bank, Regions Bank, Truist Bank, financed CoreCivic with:
a USD 800 million credit facility in April 2018, maturing in April 2023 (sec.gov);
and a USD 200 million corporate loan made in April 2018 and maturing April 2023 (sec.gov). See below for more details.
Over the past few years, several investors have made the decision to remove CoreCivic and GEO Group from their investment portfolios. This includes Danish pension funds PKA and Lærernes Pension, who divested from these companies in 2019, as well as PSP, Canada's largest pension fund, which completely sold off its shares in CoreCivic and GEO Group in 2021. More recently, KLP, the Norwegian pension fund, also excluded these companies from its portfolios in 2022.