City of boston news
Advocates pack City Hall to argue for disclosure, divestment, and reinvestment
Boston reinvests $150M in socially responsible companies and $100M to community banks
investment firm news
Divesting Boston’s Public and Private Funds from the Prison Industrial Complex
Last September, we partnered with dozens of local and national advocacy organizations, faith communities, university groups, and investment firms, to launch a coordinated prison divestment campaign in Greater Boston. The campaign calls for the City of Boston, university endowments, and individual investors to divest their assets from seven morally corrupt companies that operate within the prison industrial complex.
We are targeting the following companies for divestment: The GEO Group, CoreCivic, G4S, Securus Technologies, Global Tel Link, Keefe Group, and Trinity Services Group. Though this is by no means an exhaustive list of the companies involved in the prison industrial complex that we challenge, these companies employ irredeemable business models that depend entirely on human caging and control, which disproportionately targets black and brown bodies. They have no place in a free and just society.
In January of 2019, Boston City Councilors Lydia Edwards and Michelle Wu filed a hearing order for the Committee on Ways and Means to hold a hearing on the disclosure, socially responsible investment, and reinvestment of city funds. Before the hearing, we saw our first major win when Mayor Marty Walsh announced that the City of Boston would move $150 million of the city’s cash investments into socially responsible investments and another $100 million into community banks. While we recognize and applaud this effort, we continue to fight for the socially responsible investment of all the city’s cash investments and pension funds, amounting for more than $6 billion. So, on February 28, we packed City Hall with over 15 other organizations to make the case for Boston to divest all its city funds from the prison industrial complex!
Through divestment, we will weaken the financial stability and social capital of corporations profiting from incarceration and immigration detention. Join the movement and stay tuned for our next big win!
defending directly-impacted communities against COSTLY ONLINE MONEY TRANSFER fees
In July of 2018, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (NYS DOCCS) announced a new online money transfer service provided by JPay, one of its new private vendors. This new money transfer option, however, comes with exorbitant fees that users are manipulated into paying.
Free money transfer options still exist by money order or personal check, but JPay has intentionally built high barriers to access for these options. Personal checks, for example, while free to deposit, must now be mailed to JPay in Florida, instead of directly to the facility, with a deposit slip buried deep in the company's website. To incentivize use of its online system, JPay holds checks for ten days before depositing the funds. In some cases, company representatives have gone as far as to outright lie about the free option of sending personal checks.
While JPay works to extract as much wealth as it can from those supporting incarcerated people, we are fighting back. Transferring funds into a loved one’s account should be free as it always has been. We must prevent prison profiteers like JPay from further integrating itself and its exploitative tactics into NYS DOCCS.
As we gear up to take action, we are looking to hear about your experiences with JPay for direction. Please use our form to the left to share a testimonial.
Intro 741 has been signed into law!
fighting to stop nyc from using incarcerated people and their loved ones to generate revenue
For years, New York City, like many other cities, has generated revenue off of the people incarcerated in its local jails and the communities that support them.
In 2017, the city generated $22.6 million in telephone call commissions, commissary and vending machine sales, and disciplinary ticket fines. While some of these revenues merely cover the cost of products purchased for the incarcerated population, many translate into pure profits to the city. And though these profits are an incredibly small portion of the city's $1.4 billion correctional budget, they represent a substantial portion of the limited resources of the economically distressed communities targeted by its jail system.
On June 15, 2018, the New York City Council adopted the FY 2019 budget and, like prior years, it included over $20 million in expected revenues from directly-impacted communities. But there was still an important bill on the table that would help address a significant segment of these profits. Introduced by Speaker Corey Johnson, Intro 741 makes telephone calls from New York City jails free and prohibits the City from collecting revenues on the provision of telephone services.
Leading a coalition of half a dozen New York City advocacy organizations, we fought tirelessly to pass Intro 741, which will protect directly-impacted communities from the annual extraction of nearly $10 million by the City and its telephone contractors, Securus. On July 18, 2018, the New York City Council voted 42-3 to pass Intro 741 and roughly three weeks later, on August 6, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed it into law.
Phone Calls From New York City Jails Will Soon Be Free, New York Times
City Must Stop Using Incarcerated People as Revenue Source, Gotham Gazette
Directive #4911A has been suspended!
PROTECTING INCARCERATED people AND THEIR LOVED ONES FROM commercial PACKAGE vendors
In December of 2017, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (NYS DOCCS) released Directive #4911A, amending the rules governing prison packages.
The directive, which went into effect as a pilot program in Greene, Green Haven, and Taconic Correctional Facilities in early January, prohibited families, friends, and organizations from sending packages directly to anyone who is incarcerated. Instead, it required them to use six approved private vendors who generally sell low quality items at exploitative prices. The directive also prohibited the purchase of fresh fruit and vegetables and direct donation of new and used books.
Expected to roll out to all NYS DOCCS facilities by the fall of 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo suspended the Secure Vendor Pilot Program after just 10 days following public backlash. But as a coalition of directly-impacted people and other criminal justice advocates, we are pushing forward for the full termination of this exploitative program.
Cuomo Halts a Controversial Prison Package Policy, The New York Times
New York Cancels Private Prison Care Packages Program, The Marshall Project
What Can't You Send to an Inmate in New York? Apples, Used Books and More, The New York Times
New York Makes it Harder for Inmates to Get Books, The New Yorker
The Latest Big Win for Prison Privatization, The Marshall Project
Sing Sing's Gun Buyback
A collaboration with sing sing correctional facility and voices from within
In 2012, a group of men at Sing Sing Correctional Facility raised nearly $8,000 from among 1,600 prisoners to launch a gun buyback with the NYPD. Their donor match fell through and consequently they fell short of the minimum amount needed to get the initiative off the ground.
Please help these men, now collectively known as Voices From Within, raise the matching funds necessary to finally launch this gun buyback. If successful, it could remove approximately 100 to 200 guns off New York City streets. Your contribution demonstrates your support for the twin goals of improving public safety and promoting second chances.
Thanks to Yusef Kassim and friends for their generous matching commitment of $3,895.