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Wells Fargo Makes Crime Pay

If you thought Wells Fargo’s fake account scandal was bad, get a load of this. Wells Fargo is one of six banks keeping the private prison industry in business.

Donald Cohen

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Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

If you thought Wells Fargo’s fake account scandal was bad, get a load of this.

Wells Fargo is one of six banks keeping the private prison industry in business.

We know a lot about the private prison industry. We’ve found that private prisons increase the chances of people returning to prison and encourage mass incarceration. But we’ve always wanted to follow the money—so that’s what we did.

Our new report, The Banks That Finance Private Prison Companies, uncovers the banks that provide financing to the two largest private prison companies, GEO Group and CoreCivic (formerly CCA). The companies rely on Wells Fargo and other Wall Street banks for money to build new prisons, get huge tax breaks and expand their control of the criminal justice system. All the while, the banks profit from charging interest and fees.

Private prison companies are licking their lips after Donald Trump’s victory. So are investors. Fortune magazine called CoreCivic “the biggest winner of the election,” since the company’s stock shot up more than 40 percent the next day.

Now we know who else would profit from Trump’s “law and order” policies and plans to deport millions of immigrants.

By providing loans, credit and bonds to private prison companies, Wells Fargo and banks like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America have been complicit in mass incarceration and the criminalization of immigration, and they stand to profit even more.

But we’re fighting back.

The Portland City Council is currently considering a plan to stop borrowing money from banks like Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase that do business with private prison companies. Nationally, the #ForgoWells campaign is urging cities to cut ties with Wells Fargo because of the recent scandal and the bank’s involvement in the private prison industry and the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Support these campaigns and push your city to divest from the banks that keep the private prison industry in business. We need to be innovative in the Trump era, but even more importantly, we need to work together.

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