Council Members Want City to Divest In Private Prisons

Posted at 7:13 PM, Jul 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-17 17:21:46-04

Two Metro council members are calling on the city's Employee Benefits Board to divest in a private prison company headquartered in Nashville.

Council member Erica Gilmore said CoreCivic, which operates private prisons in Tennessee and several other states, is profiting from the detention of immigrant children and adults on the U.S. border. She is calling for the benefits board to pull about $900,000 currently invested in CoreCivic stock and invest that money elsewhere.

"I think at this time, it’s morally imperative that we take a stand," Gilmore said. "We just do not support the tearing away of children and families and we know they are indirectly supporting that."

Gilmore announced her resolution Monday, which will be sent directly to the Employee Benefits Board, alongside a group called Moral Movement TN.

"We imagine a Nashville where we tell the truth and part of telling the truth about a company headquartered in town that profits off the incarceration and detention of innocent families," said Justin Jones, a member of Moral Movement TN. "That profits off the suffering and pain of immigrant families. That profits the longer these immigrant families stay in detention."

Other cities have already pulled money from similar stocks, including New York, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. 

However, Chris Harmon with the Office of the Metro Finance Director responded to the bill Tuesday, saying the office was unaware of "any Metro investments in CoreCivic."

He released the following statement along with a copy of the ND1 Asset Detail:

"Corrections Corporation of America was last shown in Metro’s pension plan holdings in the June 30, 2016 report.  At that time, the investment had a base market value of $920,675.80. That investment was sold in November 2016 and to our knowledge no additional investments have been made in either Corrections Corporation of America or CoreCivic. A year later, the attached report from June 30, 2017, showed Metro did not have any holdings in Corrections Corporation of America or CoreCivic.
Since the 2018 fiscal year just ended on June 30, reconciliation of that year’s report is still ongoing, but initial indications are that Metro did not have any holdings in Corrections Corporation of America or CoreCivic as of June 30."

A spokeswoman for CoreCivic said information being shared by special interest groups is wrong and politically motivated, resulting in some people reaching misguided conclusions about what the company does.

"We’ve worked to provide high-quality, professional services for more than 30 years," said CoreCivic spokeswoman Amanda Gilchrist. "We’ve worked with Democrat and Republic administrations and every level of government – federal, state and local. On immigration, CoreCivic has partnered with the federal government to operate detention facilities with every administration for over three decades, including working with the Obama Administration to address the unprecedented immigration crisis on our southwest border in 2014. It’s important to note that none of our facilities provides housing for children who aren’t under the supervision of a parent."

Once Gimore's request is before the Employee Benefits Board, it will be at the board's full discretion to act or not act.