Trustees Of New York City Employees’ Retirement System Jointly Announce Unanimous Vote In Favor Of Proposal To Study Divesting From Private Prisons
September 8, 2016
(New York, NY) – New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer and the trustees of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS) announced that they passed a resolution at today’s board meeting to study the impact on the pension portfolio of divesting from corporations that run private prisons.
Today’s unanimous vote comes on the heels of the U.S. Justice Department’s decision to phase out and ultimately end the Bureau of Prisons’ use of privately-operated prisons in light of concerns about widespread health and safety violations and cost-effectiveness of such facilities.
Comptroller Stringer also announced that in the coming weeks, he intended to introduce similar resolutions at each of the remaining boards on which he serves as trustee, the Teachers’ Retirement System, New York City Police Pension Fund and the New York City Fire Department Pension Fund, and would ask that the Board of Education Retirement System take up the issue as well.
“As trustees, we have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that we are acting in the best interests of our members while investing in ways that are consistent with our values as New Yorkers,” Comptroller Stringer said. “We believe the time has come to study whether our holdings in private prisons meet both our fiduciary standard as well as our standard to invest responsibly. My fellow trustees and I will carefully review these findings and take action accordingly.”
“Prisons should not be profitable at the expense of humane conditions and safety,” said John Adler, the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Pensions and Investments and chair of the NYCERS Board. “If NYCERS can responsibly divest from corporations that run private prisons, the City is eager to do its part in working to eliminate private prisons.”
“As fiduciaries of NYCERS, we have a responsibility to protect the hard earned money of thousands of New Yorkers,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “It is apparent that investments in private prisons are not only an unstable and risky investment, but a deeply troubling one. I am pleased that NYCERS has decided to study the impact of divesting from private prisons because we cannot continue to support an industry that is complicit and monetizes the maltreatment of our inmates, providing inferior services and often permitting violence.”
“The notion of a privately-owned, privately-run prison system is deeply suspect. Justice and public protection too often find themselves at odds with the profit motive, and with the federal government ending its use of private prisons, these companies may not be a prudent financial investment either,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I’m proud to vote for today’s resolution. New York City’s public pension funds should study the impact of divesting from companies that run private prisons, and once we’ve done our due diligence we should consider divesting from these companies.”
“District Council 37 strongly supports the NYCERS resolution to study the System’s holdings in the prison industry and possible divestiture of these holdings. District Council 37 and our national union, the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), oppose the proliferation of for-profit prison companies. Far too often, these companies falsely claim they can run prisons more efficiently than the government and save taxpayers money. Instead, they cut corners and harm prisoners, staff and taxpayers, said Henry Garrido, District Council 37 Executive Director and NYCERS trustee.”
In addition to Comptroller Stringer, the New York City York City Employees’ Retirement System Trustees are: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Representative, John Adler (Chair); New York City Public Advocate Letitia James; Borough Presidents: Gale Brewer (Manhattan), Melinda Katz (Queens), Eric Adams (Brooklyn), James Oddo (Staten Island), and Ruben Diaz, Jr. (Bronx); Henry Garrido , Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME; John Samuelsen, President Transport Workers Union Local 100; Gregory Floyd, President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 237.