Investor activists press U.S. prison operators on human rights

BOSTON (Reuters) – Activist investors said on Tuesday they filed shareholder resolutions at two U.S. private prison operators, looking to link executive pay to human rights considerations at CoreCivic Inc and have Geo Group give more details on the treatment of people held at correction and detention facilities.

The resolutions were filed by shareholders including the Service Employees International Union and the Jesuits U.S.A. West Province. Both resemble resolutions filed elsewhere, including at banks with financial ties to border security contractors at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump has pursued stricter immigration enforcement.

“We thought it was critical to send these companies a message that they need to be concerned about the risks they could be potentially facing around human rights,” said Nadira Narine, senior program director at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, an organizer of the efforts.

The group’s members including religious and labor investors in recent years have passed resolutions on topics like gun control and climate change, showing how political issues increasingly have drawn shareholder attention.

A spokeswoman for CoreCivic, Amanda Gilchrist, said the company is reviewing the proposal.

“CoreCivic has a detailed Human Rights Policy that clearly outlines our commitments regarding resident rights and treatment, including legal rights, safety and security, healthcare, reentry programming, visitation and standards of living,” she said.

In a statement e-mailed by Geo Group spokesman Pablo Paez, the company said it “has always been committed to respecting the human rights of all those entrusted to our care” and that processing centers it runs on behalf of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency “provide safe and humane environments that meet the needs of individuals in the care of federal immigration authorities.”

Shares of both companies rose after Trump was elected in November 2016, but have been under pressure amid questions about oversight. In November the board of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System voted to sell shares in the two companies.

Both companies say they do not house children separated from their families, a policy the Trump administration once pursued.

The resolution at CoreCivic calls for its compensation committee “to incorporate respect for inmate and detainee human rights” into incentive pay arrangements for senior executives.

The resolution at GEO Group calls for it to report annually on how it has implemented and measured its human rights policy.

Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli

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