SunTrust to cut off financing for private prisons

  • July 8, 2019

SunTrust said today it plans to stop providing financing to companies that manage private prisons and immigration holding facilities, becoming the latest large lender to distance itself from the industry amid a backlash against Trump administration immigration policies.

The bank said it made the decision “after extensive consideration of the views of our stakeholders on this deeply complex issue.”

JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo have also committed to cutting ties with private prisons following activist pressure. Among the advocates urging the banks to act is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who has used her Financial Services Committee post and a huge social media following to put a spotlight on the issue. She recently called immigration detention facilities at the border “concentration camps.”

SunTrust has been working to satisfy community groups watching its proposed merger with BB&T. Financing of private prisons came up at public hearings on the merger.

Private prison companies GEO Group and CoreCivic, which have been SunTrust clients, blasted the announcement. The companies said they haven’t managed facilities that house unaccompanied minors.

GEO Group said “misleading political activism has been allowed to impact a decade-long banking relationship.” CoreCivic said SunTrust has a contractual obligation to continue working with the company through the expiration of a mutual agreement in 2023.

“Despite claims of a thorough review process, these banks have kowtowed to a small group of activists rather than engaging in a constructive dialogue about the facts,” CoreCivic said.