New Jersey Pension Fund Axes Stake in Private Prison Contractor

Action follows American Federation of Teachers’ critical report on Trump’s immigration policy.

New Jersey’s $78.6 billion pension fund has removed its holdings in a private prison contactor that runs 11 immigrant family detention centers.

The Garden State’s public worker pension plan last week sold its $1.3 million investment in the Geo Group, one of the nation’s largest private prison contractors.

This follows a report from the American Federation of Teachers critical of private prisons enlisted in President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown. The New Jersey move follows those of other state pension programs.

The New Jersey fund examined whether the prison stake matched its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) values. State Treasury Department spokeswoman Jennifer Sciortino told that the stake was not “consistent with our fiduciary responsibility” and the fund ditched it.

The teachers group released a report earlier this month outing various pensions, hedge funds, and corporations that had invested in private prison companies with immigration detention centers. Various pension funds such as the New York City pension funds and the New York Common Retirement Fund have recently divested from private prisons, and the states of Illinois, Iowa, and New York have passed legislation barring private prison investments.

In addition, the California State Teachers Retirement System is currently evaluating its investment risks to determine if a divestment is warranted.

“The family separation crisis is not only a humanitarian issue but an investment issue, to which public pension fund trustees should give careful consideration,” the American Federation of Teachers said in the report.

The federation is working on a second part of its private prison report, scheduled to be released next month. That list will target investment managers.

President Trump’s immigration policy has been under harsh criticism since its inception, which has resulted more than 2,000 children separated from their parents.Soon after, audio of children calling for their families surfaced, stirring more backlash. As a result, a federal court judge has ordered the White House to reunite immigrant families.

“We should be safeguarding children, not using them as leverage in a half-baked effort to deter illegal immigration,” Gurbir Gruewal, New Jersey’s attorney general, said in a June statement indicating that his office was suing the federal government over the policy.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey State Employees Deferred Compensation Plan ($559 million), a smaller pension plan separate from the state’s big fund, owns stock in the GEO Group and CoreCivic, another company that operates immigrant detention centers, including New Jersey’s Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility, reports

CoreCivic said none of its facilities provide housing for children who are not under parental supervision.

The company said in a statement: “We also do not enforce immigration laws or policies or have any say whatsoever in an individual’s deportation or release.”

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