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art by Favianna Rodriguez

Art by Favianna Rodriguez

“ You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. ” – César Chávez, UFW

The Families Belong Together Corporate Accountability Committee Responds to Wells Fargo Decision to Exit​ The ​Private Prison Industry

March 12, 2019

Today, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez q​uestioned​ Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan at a U.S. House Financial Services Committee hearing on the bank’s investments in GEO Group and Core Civic, two private prison companies that are detaining immigrants. Mr. Sloan announced that the bank has decided to exit these relationships. Following this news, the Families Belong Together Corporate Accountability Committee released the following statement:

"Following enormous grassroots pressure around the country involving more than 100 organizations, we are seeing a powerful chain reaction in the relationship between banks and private prisons — after years of bankrolling this industry of oppression, Wells Fargo is​ joining JPMorgan Chase​ in stepping away from banking private prisons. ​Today’s announcement​ by Wells Fargo during a Congressional hearing is a monumental win for millions of people who — through signing petitions by the hundreds of thousands, delivering messages to local banks, and taking direct action outside corporate headquarters and bank branches in cities across the country — made it clear that funding private prisons is unacceptable and antithetical to our country’s values.

"The private prison industry is currently detaining over​ ​70 percent​ of immigrants in ICE custody and complicit in the epidemic of mass incarceration that devastates black and brown communities. Research shows that many private prisons have documented ​histories​ of human rights abuses, and since ICE’s creation in 2003, immigrant detention centers, overall, have reported ​188 detainee deaths​. CoreCivic and GEO Group — the country’s two largest private prison companies —​ depend on debt financing​ from banks, including Wells Fargo, to conduct their day-to-day business operations, finance new facilities, and acquire smaller companies.

"We thank Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez for her direct questioning of Mr. Sloan during the hearing in the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, building on our joint efforts to pressure our nation’s largest banks to end their financing of investment in the private prison industry that has been profiting off the pain and suffering of children and families.

"We will continue to hold Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase accountable to their commitments to leave private prisons behind, and urge other banks like US Bank, Bank of America and SunTrust to equally avoid all contracts with the private prison industry. The millions of individuals represented by the Families Belong Together Corporate Accountability Committee, made up of more than 100 organizations, and the Backers of Hate campaign, who have raised their voices to build the momentum we’re seeing today will continue to fight to cut off all financing to this morally bankrupt private prison industry.”

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