Citizens Bank: Stop Funding Private Prisons and ICE Detention Centers!

Kristin Silberberg, VP of Investor Relations; Daniel Darnell, Head of Aerospace, Defense, & Government Services Banking

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Citizens Bank has provided $120 million in loans to CoreCivic, one of the largest private prison corporations in the country. CoreCivic runs at least 65 prisons and ICE detention centers and has a history of running these facilities with violence and neglect.

CoreCivic facilities have become a hotspot for covid-19. More than 1800 people were infected with covid-19 and three people died from the virus at CoreCivic’s Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Tennessee. At CoreCivic’s Otay Mesa ICE Detention Center, people were pepper sprayed when they asked for personal protective gear. 221 people tested positive for covid-19 at the facility and one person died after CoreCivic denied them medical care. Major covid-19 outbreaks have occured at several other CoreCivic facilities.

(TW: sexual violence)

In recent years CoreCivic has faced lawsuits and criminal investigations for corruption, failing to provide adequate healthcare, and sexual violence at their facilities. This includes at CoreCivic’s ICE detention center in El Paso, Texas where guards systematically sexually assaulted people held at the facility. The main witness for this case was retaliated against and then deported. Then at a CoreCivic facility in Houston, Texas a woman was sexually assaulted by guards days before being deported to Mexico. In 2018 Roxsana Hernandez, a trans woman seeking asylum from Hondurus, was killed due to inadequate medical care at a CoreCivic facility. CoreCivic then covered up her death.

As long as Citizens Bank continues to fund CoreCivic, they are complicit in this violence and harm.

Major banks such as JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and SunTrust have already ended their financing of private prison corporations like CoreCivic. It is time for Citizens Bank to follow suit and fully divest from CoreCivic.

Petition by
Shame On Citizens  Bank
Bellmead, Rhode Island

To: Kristin Silberberg, VP of Investor Relations; Daniel Darnell, Head of Aerospace, Defense, & Government Services Banking
From: [Your Name]

We are writing in regards to Citizens Bank’s continued investment in CoreCivic, the largest private prison corporation in the United States. CoreCivic operates over 65 prisons and I.C.E. detention centers that are known for their inhumane conditions, extreme violence, and willful medical neglect.

We demand that Citizens Bank immediately end its financing of private prisons by fully divesting from CoreCivic.

CoreCivic’s Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego was the site of the first major outbreak of COVID-19 in American detention centers. This outbreak was a consequence of the inhumane health and sanitary practices at the facility. When those detained inside Otay Mesa requested personal protective gear, they were pepper-sprayed and attacked by guards. Over 221 people at the detention facility have contracted the virus and one person has died.

This cruelty is not unique to the Otay Mesa Detention Center. In CoreCivic’s Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Tennessee, over 1,298 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and three people have died. People held inside CoreCivic’s Central Arizona Florence Correctional Complex have filed a lawsuit demanding more sanitary conditions, cleaning supplies, and social distancing measures. Across the country, over 2,500 people have contracted COVID-19 at detention centers operated by CoreCivic, resulting in dozens of deaths.

CoreCivic’s medical neglect extends beyond the woefully inadequate protection provided during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2018, in a CoreCivic facility, Roxsana Hernandez, a trans woman seeking asylum from Honduras, was killed by the facility’s failure to provide her with adequate medical care.

Given this violence, most major banks—including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo—have chosen to divest from private prisons. Citizens Bank, however, continues to provide over $120 million dollars in loans to CoreCivic. Financial support of CoreCivic is a flagrant violation of Citizens Bank’s professed standards of integrity and community accountability.

In the last several years, Citizens Bank has been recognized for its efforts to move toward more ethical banking practices. Yet if Citizens Bank truly aims to uphold its corporate promises to “foster the well-being of our communities” and “do the right thing,” it must immediately divest from CoreCivic and the private prison industry.

In 2017, Citizens Bank ended their financing of Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, after a public pressure campaign led by Shame On Citizens and other community groups, including the FANG Collective. We will not stop pressuring Citizens Bank until the bank ends its complicity in financing private prisons. Just today we launched a new petition, asking people to pledge to close their Citizens Bank accounts if you do not divest from CoreCivic. This is only the beginning.

We urge you to align your financial investments with your ethical commitments. Protect your moral standing by joining your industry peers in divesting from CoreCivic and the private prison industry.

Signed,

The Shame On Citizens Campaign