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Danish Funds Invest In American Private Prisons

A February 18, 2020 story by Danwatch, a Danish investigative website, uncovered three Danish pension funds that had invested into two of America’s biggest prison profiteers: CoreCivic and the GEO Group. PKA, Villiv, and Lærernes Pension are pension funds for Danish social educators, social workers, nurses, and medical secretaries.

PKA invested the equivalent of about $8.5 million in the two private prison companies. Lrernes Pension has invested about $1.1 million in CoreCivic, and Villi invested about $160,000 in the two companies.

The Denmark pension fund investments come as America’s largest pension funds and banks have increasingly divested themselves from these prison profiteers. Politically, the companies are becoming pariahs, as some state Democratic parties and political groups are refusing to accept donations from private prison companies.

American public opinion of private prison companies has been trending against the profiteers. The Obama administration issued an executive order to phase out federal use of private prisons, but that order was reversed by President Trump. Both CoreCivic and GEO Group were donors to the Trump campaign.

“This is an industry that profits from human suffering,” said David C. Fathi, director of the National Prison Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. “This is an industry that allows the United States to maintain the largest prison population in the world, and to detain tens of thousands of immigrants and asylum seekers.”

Following the Danwatch investigation, PKA announced it was divesting all of its shares in the two companies. “We invest in accordance with UN Global Compact’s principles on corporate social responsibility and sustainability which must, among other things, ensure that companies do not contribute to human rights violations,” PKA press officer Nicholas Rindahl said in an email to Danwatch. “We do not believe that these companies live up to these principles, and that is why we have recommended that they be excluded from our investments at the earliest opportunity.”

The problem is that investors see profit in privatized prisons. To dissuade such investors, media and other organizations must highlight how profits come at the expense of human suffering. 


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