After months of research, conversations with the University of California and steady pressure from the Afrikan Black Coalition against the UC’s complicity in the prison industrial complex, ABC confirms that the UC has begun selling all their shares in private prisons. This victory follows an initial November press release from the Afrikan Black Coalition announcing the University of California’s investments in private prisons and a unanimous vote from Black Student Unions calling for divestment from private prisons and their financiers. ABC Political Director, Yoel Haile, states:
“This victory is historic and momentous. Divesting $25 million is a good step towards shutting down private prisons by starving them of capital. This is a clear example of Black Power and what we can achieve when we work in unity. This victory belongs to the masses of our people languishing behind America’s mass incarceration regime.”
UC Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher broke the news to ABC staff in a meeting at Bachher’s office in Oakland, CA on Friday, December 18th, 2015. Bachher stated that he would partner with the Afrikan Black Coalition and has pledged to inform each UC Chancellor and financial institutions–with whom the UC maintains a relationship–about the UC’s decision to sell all holdings in private prisons. Bachher maintained that as a matter of policy, the UC does not divest, but “looks at things from a sustainable investment framework.” This decision makes the University of California the second U.S educational institution to divest from private prisons after Columbia University’s decision to divest in 2013, as a result of relentless organizing by Black students and allies.
The University of California is clear that investments in these corporations are financially unsustainable and now stands as the first public education institution to denounce the private prison industry. In addition, Black students have declared private prisons to be morally rotten and ethically compromising to the mission of any educational institution. Their position on private prisons has been clear from the very beginning; they want them outlawed and out of business. The University of California has sold all but $2 million of its holdings from private prisons and is in the process of selling the remainder of their holdings by December 31st, 2015. Following this historic victory, many invigorated supporters are now asking: "where do we go from here?"