New data tool details thousands of corporations profiting from US prison industry

Companies in the database are assigned a "harm score" based on their responsibility for and responsiveness to their human rights violations.

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SOURCECommon Dreams

An advocacy group “dedicated to dismantling the prison industry” on Wednesday unveiled an interactive database of over 4,000 corporations it says are profiting from the U.S. carceral system, the world’s most populous.

The Prison Industry Corporate Database, published by New York-based Worth Rises, includes publicly traded and privately held corporations spanning 12 sectors: architecture and construction, operations and management, personnel, programs and labor, equipment, data and information systems, telecom, financial services, food and commissary, healthcare, transportation, and community corrections.

“Despite earning tens of billions of dollars each year, the public knows little about the prison industry and those that profit from it,” Worth Rises executive director Bianca Tylek said in a statement. “This is not about any one corporation—and it’s not about private prisons or prison labor—but the thousands of corporations that profit off the caging of millions of people in our prisons and jails across the U.S.”

“We are releasing the Prison Industry Corporate Database to help people understand the vastness of the prison industry and the financial incentives it has to expand incarceration rather than protect public safety, so that together we can build the solutions needed to dismantle it,” Tylek added.

Companies in the database are assigned a “harm score” based on their responsibility for and responsiveness to their human rights violations. Corporations with a harm score over 10 are recommended for immediate divestment

Twenty companies on the list have a harm score of 15, including Bushmaster Firearms, Cerberus, CoreCivic, GEO Group, Remington Outdoor, Sodexo, and Sturm, Ruger & Co.

Companies scoring a 13 or higher include 3M, Amazon, Aramark, Avis, General Dynamics, Hewlett Packard, Lockheed Martin, McDonald’s, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, Starbucks, Sysco, T-Mobile, Universal Health Services, Vanguard Group, and Wendy’s.

Worth Rises says the financial technology company Envestnet has used the database “to create an investment screen that financial advisors can apply to client accounts to ensure they are not invested in the most harmful corporations in the prison industry.”

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