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CalPERS drops listed prison companies

Author: Alicia McElhaney, Institutional Investor, Published on: 20 October 2019

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) has divested from two publicly traded prison companies — CoreCivic and Geo Group... CalPERS came under scrutiny back in June when Educators for Migrant Justice, a nonprofit group seeking to end family separation, started pressuring the pension fund to divest...  “I want to stress that [CalPERS] making this decision is a huge blow to private prison companies,” said Emily Goldman, founder of Educators for Migrant Justice... “This shows that these issues are material to a company’s performance... Human rights abuses can affect a company’s bottom line."

... CalPERS’ chief of public affairs Wayne Davis noted that “it was not a divestment — it was an investment decision. Our CIO Ben Meng, who joined us in January, conducted a comprehensive review of our investments, including our benchmarks and indices. Based on that review, we removed 217 companies including CoreCivic & Geo Group.”... A spokesperson for Geo Group [said via email]... “These divestment efforts are misguided and based on a deliberate mischaracterization of our role as a long-standing service provider to the government, and ignore the fact that we have absolutely no role in setting criminal justice or immigration policies nor have we ever advocated for or against criminal justice or immigration enforcement policies."

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