Public Schoolteachers’ Pensions Are Partially Funded by Private Prisons
Public schools and prisons are becoming increasingly linked—police officers are now a constant presence in many schools, which has led to students getting hassled and arrested by cops for what could be described as normal kid stuff, including performing science experiments on school grounds. There’s even a name for this phenomenon: the school-to-prison pipeline, which takes kids, mostly minority students who live in poverty, out of the classroom and into the legal system, shuffling them into the prison-industrial complex before they’re old enough to vote.
But there’s another, less obvious way schools are tied to prisons. Retirement funds for public school teachers (as well as other government employees) in several states have a combined $90 million invested in Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, the largest private prison companies in the world. Though individual teachers didn’t decide to make their pensions partially connected to America’s gigantic,often abusive incarceration industry—many of them aren’t aware of all the investments made on their behalf—they are indirectly profiting from mass incarceration thanks to choices made by their money managers who run public employees’ massive pension funds.
That $90 million figure is an estimate based on publicly-available NASDAQ data for public employee pension funds. Most of the money comes from three big states: California, New York, and Texas. Texas, through its Permanent School Fund and state employee retirement system, has about $13 million invested in CCA and GEO. California and New York, through their retirement funds for public school teachers and other state employees (which includes non-teacher school employees like janitors and principals), each have about $30 million tied to private prisons.