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Philadelphia Board of Pensions votes to divest from private prisons

Statue of Benjamin Franklin, Craftsman (or Young Ben Franklin), Philadelphia

Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement has decided to divest from private prisons, confirmed Christopher R. DiFusco, chief investment officer for the $4.8 billion pension system.

At their Thursday meeting, board trustees voted 6-1 in favor of divesting from the private prison industry. Specifically, the board will divest from three private prison companies: GEO Group, G4S and CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corp. of America).

The board's resolution to divest from such companies stated that "private prisons are now a multibillion-dollar for-profit industry," which puts "the civil rights and safety of" people held in these facilities "in conflict with a profit motive."

"There have been documented instances of bureaucratic and judicial corruption, dangerous and unhealthy living conditions, and human rights violations in many of these facilities," the resolution added. The board believes that "the well-documented practices in private prisons create reputational, regulatory and legal risks that may pose harm to investors and are at odds with the betterment and rehabilitation of incarcerated citizens."

The board had about $1.16 million in stock in these companies as of Oct. 24, Mr. DiFusco said.