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The banks that finance private prison companies

A new report by In the Public Interest uncovers which Wall Street banks finance the private prison industry's two leaders, CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporations of America) and GEO Group.

The report shows that six banks have played a role in financing private prisons. Those six banks are Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, BNP Paribas, and U.S. Bancorp. The following are key findings from the report:

  • At the end of June 2016, CCA had total debts of $1.5 billion and GEO Group had total debts of $1.9 billion.

  • CCA and GEO Group have relied on debt financing from banks to expand their control of the criminal justice and immigration enforcement systems by acquiring smaller companies that provide “community corrections” services, like residential reentry and electronic monitoring.

  • Banks profit from collecting fees and interest on credit, bonds, and loans, as well as from owning or investing their clients’ money in shares of CCA and GEO Group.

  • Financing enables both CCA and GEO Group to operate as real estate investment trusts (REITs), which reduces their income taxes.