As America’s incarcerated and detained populations have boomed in recent years, the business of owning and operating prisons and jails has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry. A new report uncovers which Wall Street banks finance the industry’s two leaders, CoreCivic (formerly “Corrections Corporation of America [CCA]”) and GEO Group.

The Banks That Finance Private Prison Companies shows that six banks have played large roles in bankrolling CoreCivic and GEO Group: Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, BNP Paribas, SunTrust, and U.S. Bancorp.

The report also reveals how these banks profit from providing credit, bonds, and loans to private prison companies. The report concludes with a call for banks to stop financing the private prison industry.


The report’s key findings include:

  • Six banks play large roles in financing CCA’s and GEO Group’s debts—Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, BNP Paribas, SunTrust, and U.S. Bancorp.
  • At the end of June 2016, CCA had total debts of $1.5 billion and GEO Group had total debts of $1.9 billion.
  • CCA and GEO Group have relied on debt financing from banks to expand their control of the criminal justice and immigration enforcement systems by acquiring smaller companies that provide “community corrections” services, like residential reentry and electronic monitoring.
  • Banks profit from collecting fees and interest on credit, bonds, and loans, as well as from owning or investing their clients’ money in shares of CCA and GEO Group.
  • Financing enables both CCA and GEO Group to operate as real estate investment trusts (REITs), which reduces their income taxes.

Download fact sheets highlighting particular aspects of the report’s findings:

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