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New Jersey Pension Fund divests $1.3 million stake in private prison company

New Jersey Pension Fund, Trenton, has sold its $1.3 million stake in private prison company Geo Group, confirmed Jennifer Sciortino, a spokeswoman for the state Department of the Treasury, whose division of investment manages investments for the $78.6 billion pension fund.

"Our division of investment reviewed the investment merits, including consideration of environmental, social and governance issues, and consistent with its fiduciary responsibility elected to sell the security," Ms. Sciortino wrote in an email Friday. The sale was completed Aug. 23.

"Issues such as this underscore the need to have a formalized ESG policy in place to help inform investment decisions," Ms. Sciortino added. "We expect the State Investment Council to adopt this policy the next time it meets." The council, which formulates policies for the division of investment, is scheduled to meet Sept. 27.

The New Jersey Pension Fund is one of several public pension funds that have announced plans to sell stakes in private prison companies or have already divested.

Two weeks ago, for example, the $9.8 billion Chicago Public School Teachers' Pension & Retirement Fund placed on its prohibited investment list private prison companies and businesses that operate immigration child detention centers. The pension fund had announced Aug. 17 that it would divest holdings of about $548,000 in these companies.

In July, the $206.9 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, announced divestitures of its private prison holdings of $9.6 million.