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Corecivic : Stop investing in immigrant detention companies, California teachers tell pension fund

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07/20/2018 | 10:05am CEST

July 20--Don't miss a story on California pensions, state workers and dozens of government departments. Sign up for state worker news alerts here.

Hundreds of California teachers and a handful of left-leaning organizations are urging the state's $225 billion teacher pension fund to pull its money out of for-profit prison companies and immigrant detention centers.

The petition going to the California State Teachers' Retirement System is the latest in a string of calls for California public pension funds to divest from controversial industries, such as fossil fuels and guns.

With few exceptions, the pension funds reject appeals for divestment because they prefer to use their clout as major investors to compel industries to change their practices. They also worry that divesting causes them to miss opportunities to earn money, which increases their overall risk.

More than 200 members of the California State Teachers' Retirement System signed a public letter written by the left-leaning organization Together We Will -- San Jose demanding that CalSTRS administrators divest from private prison operators CoreCivic Inc. and the GEO Group, unless the fund can demonstrate that conditions in the prisons have improved during the pension fund's involvement.

At least 40 other members -- meaning teachers or retired teachers -- have written separate letters to CalSTRS encourage the fund to divest from those companies and others in involved with immigrant detention since the Trump administration in April began separating children from adults detained at the Mexican border. The Trump administration has since ended that policy and is in the process of reuniting immigrant children with their parents.

Some teachers are expected to make their appeals in person at CalSTRS' board meeting on Friday. The larger California Public Employees' Retirement System received 131 identical emails from people who identified themselves as public employees or retirees demanding divestment from companies involved in immigrant detention. Two others wrote unique emails with a similar message.

"As teachers who have worked all our lives to serve children and families, that CalSTRS invests our money in corporations which profit from the destruction of communities -- oftentimes the communities we serve -- is appalling," the Together We Will letter reads.

CalSTRS invested almost $13 million in the two companies in the 2016-17 fiscal year.

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The letter claims that CoreCivic Inc. and the GEO Group disregard human rights and civil liberties, violating the CalSTRS ethical conduct policy. Both companies on their websites tout their commitment to providing humane treatment to detained people.

"CoreCivic plays a valued but limited role in America's immigration system, which we have done for every administration -- Democrat and Republican -- for more than 30 years," CoreCivic spokeswoman Amanda Gilchrist said in a statement. "While we know this is a highly charged, emotional issue for many people, much of the information about our company being shared by special interest groups is wrong and politically motivated, resulting in some investors reaching misguided conclusions about what we do."

GEO Group spokesman Pablo Paez said that GEO Group facilities do not host unaccompanied minors and does not advocate for or against government detention policies.

"Members of our team strive to treat all of those entrusted to our care with compassion, dignity and respect. We welcome the opportunity to have an open dialogue with CalSTRS and CalPERS to address the common mischaracterizations of our company's role and record as a long-standing government services provider," Paez said in a statement.

Miriam Martín, a professor at DeAnza College in Cupretino who wrote the Together We Will letter, wants CalSTRS to better explain how it's using its influence as a major investor to improve conditions in detention centers and prisons.

"Regardless of what happens in a classroom, the idea that our pension is invested in a system that's makes money in a system that profits off kids of color is abhorrent," she said.

Activists have pushed for the pension funds to divest from controversial industries in the past. Last year, CalPERS and CalSTRS faced calls to liquidate holdings in the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline and the company building President Trump's proposed border wall. The pension funds did not divest from companies in those projects.

In 2013, teachers persuaded CalSTRS to sell its indirect stake in firearms manufacturer Remington Outdoor, the maker of the assault weapons used in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.

State Treasurer John Chiang led the latest push for the pension funds to divest in 2017. After the October massacre at the Mandaly Bay casino in Las Vegas massacre, he asked the boards to divest from companies that sell guns that are illegal in California. Though neither fund pulled money out of outdoor retailers that sell guns, both reported that they've used their clout to press retailers to restrict sales of certain kinds of guns and ammunition.


(c)2018 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

Visit The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.) at www.sacbee.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

© Tribune Content Agency, source Regional News

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
CORECIVIC INC -0.16% 24.57 Delayed Quote.9.20%
THE GEO GROUP INC -0.38% 26.09 Delayed Quote.10.55%
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Financials ($)
Sales 2018 1 744 M
EBIT 2018 258 M
Net income 2018 -
Debt 2018 -
Yield 2018 -
P/E ratio 2018 -
P/E ratio 2019
Capi. / Sales 2018 1,67x
Capi. / Sales 2019 1,69x
Capitalization 2 917 M
Duration : Period :
Corecivic Inc Technical Analysis Chart | CXW | US21871N1019 | 4-Traders
Technical analysis trends CORECIVIC INC
Short TermMid-TermLong Term
Income Statement Evolution
Mean consensus OUTPERFORM
Number of Analysts 2
Average target price 29,0 $
Spread / Average Target 18%
Damon T. Hininger President, Chief Executive Officer & Director
Mark A. Emkes Independent Chairman
David M. Garfinkle Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President
John Pfeiffer Chief Information Officer & VP-Technology
Donna M. Alvarado Independent Director
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