Bank of America to stop lending to companies operating private prisons, detention facilities

Credit: Davis Turner/Getty Images

Credit: Davis Turner/Getty Images

Bank of America, the second largest bank in the nation, will stop doing business with companies that operate private prisons and detention facilities, according to multiple reports.

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The bank's vice chairman, Anne Finucane, told Bloomberg News on Wednesday that bank officials decided to stop working with the companies following a review by the bank's environmental, social and governance committee. The review included site visits and consultation with clients, civil rights leaders, criminal justice experts, academics and the bank's internal Hispanic and black leaders, according to Bloomberg.

A Bank of America spokesperson told CNN that officials appreciate the steps their clients in the industry have taken "to properly execute their contractual and humanitarian responsibilities," but that the bank ultimately decided to "exit the relationships."

"We've done our due diligence that we said we would do at the annual meeting, and this is the decision we've made," Finucane told Bloomberg.

A spokesman for CoreCivic Inc., one of the largest private prison companies in the U.S., told Bloomberg in an emailed statement that Bank of America's decision was based on politics.

“We care deeply about doing business in an ethical, responsible way,” CoreCivic spokesman Steve Owen said. “This was clearly not a fair, transparent and genuine dialogue about corrections and detention.”

The decision to stop financing businesses that run private prisons and detention centers follows a similar announcement from JPMorgan Chase & Co in March, The Hill reported. Wells Fargo is also stopping lending to the industry, according to Bloomberg.

The unprecedented surge of migrant families at the southern border has left U.S. immigration detention centers severely overcrowded and taxed the government's ability to provide medical care and other attention. Six children have died since September after being detained by border agents.

Conditions at the detention centers have triggered protests and prompted businesses to distance themselves from the Trump administration's immigration policies.

Employees of online home furnishings retailer Wayfair walked out Wednesday to protest the company's decision to sell $200,000 worth of furniture to a government contractor that runs a detention center for migrant children in Texas. The company declined to back out of the contract amid the controversy, although company officials said the business plans to donate $100,000 to the Red Cross to aid people at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The CEO of children's magazine Highlights for Children on Tuesday released a statement denouncing the separation of families at the border and calling for "more humane treatment of immigrant children" at detention centers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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