(PHILADELPHIA) October 26, 2017 – Today, the Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement voted to divest from private prisons. The decision follows reported incidents of alleged human rights abuses across the private prison industry that have drawn health and safety complaints across the nation.
According to the Board of Pensions, there have been documented instances of dangerous and unhealthy living conditions, and human rights violations in many of these facilities nationwide. Data indicates that there were 126,000 inmates housed in approximately 130 private prisons operating in 30 different states where federal investigators have found far higher rates of security and safety incidents.
“I am proud to serve on a board that embraces challenging issues, engages in vigorous and respectful debate, and came to a thoughtful conclusion that balances the City’s interest in equitable justice and our fiduciary obligation to pensioners and taxpayers,” said Matthew Stitt, City Council Chief Financial Officer, who also represents Council on the Board. “This commitment to reforming our criminal justice system and – more significantly, transforming lives and communities – makes me proud to serve the City of Philadelphia. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Administration and City Council toward establishing a realistic timeline for responsibly severing our financial relationship with the for-profit prison industry.”
The Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement has historically adjusted its portfolio to support progressive causes and reinforce investments that are inclusive, diverse and equitable. The board began to review this issue at the request of Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown over the summer.
“This decision is about doing what is right and just,” said Councilwoman Reynolds Brown. “I am proud that the board has taken this tangible step to ensure that the city will no longer invest its pension dollars into an industry with an exhaustive track record of civil rights abuses.”
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