Columbia University Becomes First College to Divest from Private Prisons
Date:  06-26-2015

Student support to divest leads to Columbia’s decision to withdraw $10 million
Columbia University, bowing from pressure of its students led by Columbia Prison Divest, will no longer invest endowment funds in the world’s largest security firm. G4S, nor will it continue to invest in Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison corporation in the U.S., or in any other company that incarcerates people.

Color Lines reports:

“On Monday June 22, the Columbia University Board of Trustees decided to pull endowment funds out of the private prison industry and enact a policy that will block future investment in any company that operates lockups. Organizers say it's the first American institution of higher learning to make that move.

The ruling came after 16 months of pressure from Students Against Mass Incarceration, a black student-led campus group with the aim of abolishing prisons. After discovering in late 2013 that Columbia had $10 million invested in two for-profit prison companies—Corrections Corporation of America and G4S Secure Solutions USA—the group launched Columbia Prison Divest, a relentless campaign of advocacy and protest to sway university president Lee Bollinger and trustees to divest. Their campaign drew support from students in all 26 of the university’s undergraduate and graduate schools along the way.

From the University of Central Florida to the City University of New York there are similar campaigns operating on campuses around the country. Click through to learn more about the National Prison Divestment Campaign."

In a CNN interview Dunni Oduyemi , an organizer of Columbia Prison Divest, spoke on why students sought divestment . "The private prison model is hinged on maximizing incarceration to generate profit -- they're incentivized by convicting, sentencing, and keeping people in prison for longer and longer times. Read more.

CNN reported that eight years ago Yale University divested endowment funds from CCA after considering a student-led movement’s demand to do so. Yale, however, made no promise not to invest in future incarceration-based companies.