A Black public interest group has confirmed that the University of California school system has upwards of $25,000,000 invested into private prisons.
According to the Afrikan Black Coalition, the University of California’s Chief Investment Officer that the University of California (“UC”) has investments split between both Corrections Corporation of America (“CCA”), “America’s Leader in Partnership Corrections” and The Geo Group, “the world’s leading provider of correctional and detention management,” according to their websites. The organization also confirmed that UC system has a startling $425 million invested in Wells Fargo, one of the largest financiers of private prisons.
So what does this mean, exactly? Well on a purely technical level, the UC system is an indirect investor in private prisons through mutual funds–managed by outside investment bankers–to the tune of $25,000,000. In plain English, this means that the UC System is helping to fund the prison industrial complex’s mission of prioritizing profit over people; the UC has blood on their hands. Private prison corporations exist to build centers of white supremacist dehumanization, turning Black, brown, and immigrant bodies into a profit under the guise of rehabilitation. This profit is the result of anti-Black overcriminalization in the streets, inhumane conditions within the private prison themselves, and a legacy of legal and political disenfranchisement after release. In 2010 there were 2.3 million prisoners in the U.S. and we must ask: why is the state’s leading system of higher education funding such an immoral system? Why is the UC actively fueling the racist criminal justice system while publicly aiming for more “diversity” within their own campuses? Any contribution to the for-profit private prison industry is a direct and unethical approval in further dehumanizing Black, brown, and immigrant people for capitalistic gains. Afrikan Black Coalition Political Director Yoel Haile writes:
“It is an ethical embarrassment and a clear disregard for Black and immigrant lives for the UC to be investing tens and hundreds millions of dollars in private prisons and their financiers. In the age of mass incarceration and Black Lives Matter, the UC should be leading the fight for social justice and ethical investing as opposed to bankrolling the inhuman mass incarceration regime that has gripped America.”
ABC Field Organizer Kamilah Moore stated, “the goals of the private prison industry, which are to profit from the incarceration, labor, and rehabilitative treatment of black and immigrant lives, and the UC’s mission, which is to teaching, research, and public service, are fundamentally incompatible.”
And that is definitely an issue. How are you going to pride yourself on being a progressive institution, but then invest in a system that has dealt a blow to minorities, particularly black people?
One has to wonder how the UC system will attempt to justify this.