NYC’s Pension Systems Back-and-Forth With Private Prisons

Graphic of an imprisoned man, wearing a gray shirt with upward pointing arrows.

New York City’s pension system seems to have an inconsistent attitude towards private prisons.

In 2017, the city’s pension plans sold stocks and bonds totaling $48 million from private prison companies GEO Group, CoreCivic and G4S, which made it the first public pension system that fully divested assets from private jails.

“Private prisons, put simply, are a human rights disaster and toxic asset,” the system said in a statement then.

“The hard-earned retirement savings of New Yorkers should not be used to feed the private prison monster or perpetuate a regime of unbridled abuse of people incarcerated in this state or anywhere else,” it added.

However, Bloomberg recently reported that the pension system invested $1 billion in private equity firms that the American Federation of Teachers says profit from jail business.

It has invested in Platinum Equity, LLC and American Securities LLC, which own Securus Technologies, Inc. and Global Tel*Link Corp., respectively. As providers of phone and video visitation services to prisons, the companies have been sued by inmates and their families for charging extremely high fees, such as asking users for $1 a minute for online video visits.