MOMA board member Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, is the 2nd largest owner of private prison companies, GEO Group and Core Civic, which have over $2 billion in contracts with ICE.
These companies are responsible for over 70% of all immigration detention including families separated at the border.
MOMA’s own pension fund, Fidelity, is also one of the largest owners of these private prison stocks.
- Private prisons punish for profit.
- Private prisons break up families and our communities
- Private prisons detain immigrant children and impede visits.
- Private prisons are racist.
- Private prisons are violent and routinely violate human rights. Detained Migrants are denied due process.
- Private prisons cut costs, deny medical care and serve barely edible food.
- Private prisons think of immigrants as a market. This is just the beginning. They are seeking to expand into other markets.
MOMA is a civic organization in New York City. MOMA has civic responsibilities.
Does Larry Fink or anyone on the MOMA board know people who have suffered in private prisons? Have they seen the conditions? Heard the stories? Understand the grave injustice?
If they are not convinced of the injustice yet, we ask that Larry Fink and the MOMA board meet with concerned artists, community leaders, immigrant rights organizations, and detainees to hear the real story about private prisons. Because none of this is making anyone safer. Not even Larry.
This is a divestment campaign. Divestment as a strategy has worked in the past. Allies have run successful divestment campaigns in several states, with universities and municipal pensions divesting from private prisons. And other campaigns against banks that fund these companies are underway. In fact, as a result of the campaigns, JP Morgan and Wells Fargo just announced they won’t finance private prisons anymore! It can be done. It should be done.
#Stopartwashing — sign here to demand divestment
And by the way Boston, the largest owner of Geo Group is the company Vanguard; one of the key board members is an overseer of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
The State of the Arts is a little deplorable it seems, what with Warren Kanders, manufacturer of tear gas and other soft weapons for the security state, sitting on the board of the Whitney Museum, and the Guggenheim with its labor issues in the Gulf. Despite the efforts of some courageous groups and staff, the outrage from the art community has been mainly deafening in its silence.
HELLO ART WORLD, DO YOU THINK THIS IS ACCEPTABLE?
Private prisons operate in the shadows, effectively free from public scrutiny, because their records are exempt from the open records laws that apply to other federal prisons.[iii]
As a result, every ICE facility has passed every inspection since 2012, even those where multiple people have died.[iv]
Human-rights abuses within the immigration detention system disproportionately occur in private prisons, by forcing detainees to work without pay and threatening them with solitary confinement if they refused. For example, in a March 2018 report on abuses against African detainees at the West Texas Detention Facility documents excessive use of force as punishment, unsafe and unsanitary conditions, and denial of religious accommodation, among other concerns.[v]
The ACLU reports that prisoners as subjected to shocking abuse and mistreatment, and discriminated against by policies that impede family contact[vi] and exclude them from rehabilitative programs. Medical understaffing and extreme cost-cutting measures limit prisoners’ access to both emergency and routine medical care.[vii] Studies of private prisons also expose that they purposefully imprison a disproportionate number of people of color in their state facilities.[viii]
Even the Justice Department itself once concluded that private prisons were in general more violent than government-operated institutions, and ordered a phaseout of their use at the federal level.[ix]
Remember that immigration offenses are civil offenses that are being increasingly criminalized. Private prison companies lobby for harsher immigration legislation and more punitive regimes.[x] Private prisons are a key driver of the expansion of the prison industrial complex, both public and private.
Private prison inmates and detainees serve longer sentences and receive twice as many infractions, which help keep them in prisons.[xi] As a stipulation in their contracts for individual prisons, CCA and GEO typically require 90% or more of prison beds to be filled. These contract clauses and the millions CCA and GEO spend on lobbying and campaign contributions ensure that state and federal governments work for them to create more criminals and detainable immigrants.[xii]
CCA and GEO Group, the nation’s largest private prison corporations, earn billions each year from imprisoning people (GEO Group $2.26 and CCA $1.7 billion in 2017).
Every day a prison bed is occupied means a day of profit for private companies.
[i] The Nation, “More Immigrants Died in Detention in Fiscal Year 2017 Than in Any Year Since 2009,” available at https://www.thenation.com/article/immigrants-died-detention-fiscal-year-2017-year-since-2009/
[ii] NPR, Big Money As Private Immigrant Jails Boom, available at https://www.npr.org/2017/11/21/565318778/big-money-as-private-immigrant-jails-boom
[iii] ACLU, “Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System,” June 2014, available at https://www.aclu.org/other/warehoused-and-forgotten-immigrants-trapped-our-shadow-private-prison-system
[iv] Tara Tidwell Cullen, “ICE Released Its Most Comprehensive Immigration Data Yet. It’s Alarming,” National Immigrant Justice Center, March 13, 2018, available at https://immigrantjustice.org/staff/blog/ice-released-its-most-comprehensive-immigration-detention-data-yet
[v] Migration Policy, “Profiting from Enforcement: The Role of Private Prisons in U.S. Immigration Detention,” available at
[vi] Also see Caitlin Patler and Nicholas Branic, “Patterns of Family Visitation During Immigration Detention” available at
[vii] ACLU, “Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System,” June 2014, available at https://www.aclu.org/other/warehoused-and-forgotten-immigrants-trapped-our-shadow-private-prison-system
[viii] Freedom Cities, Prison Divestment to Build Freedom Cities: A toolkit, available at http://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/3e7183_d0ddb3de84e84f94b218b5a9bf7653bf.pdf
[ix] The New York Times, “U.S. to Phase Out Use of Private Prisons for Federal Inmates,” Aug. 18, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/19/us/us-to-phase-out-use-of-private-prisons-for-federal-inmates.html?module=inline
[x] Loren Collingwood, Jason L. Morin, Stephen Omar El-Khatib. “Expanding Carceral Markets: Detention Facilities, ICE Contracts, and the Financial Interests of Punitive Immigration Policy” available at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12552-018-9241-5
[xi] Mukherjee, Anita, Impacts of Private Prison Contracting on Inmate Time Served and Recidivism (August 20, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2523238 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2523238
[xii] Freedom Cities, Prison Divestment to Build Freedom Cities: A toolkit, available at http://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/3e7183_d0ddb3de84e84f94b218b5a9bf7653bf.pdf