Jesus so identified with those in prison that he told his followers that to visit someone in prison is to visit him. The prophet, Amos, thundered against the people of God for dehumanizing the poor and vulnerable to the extent that they sold the poor for a pair of sandals. John Wesley both highly valued ministry to the imprisoned and spoke out against making profits from the mistreatment of the poor.
Followers of Jesus are called to care for the vulnerable in society and not profit from their marginalization. In contradiction to this call, The United Methodist Church currently owns stock in two companies, GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections Corporation) and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), whose sole business is to profit from the incarceration of individuals.
The private prison industry is a fast growing industry and extraordinary profits are made from such investments, with these two companies posting profits of 2.9 billion by the end of 2010. These profits are at the expense of people of color. Private prison corporations, such as GEO Group and CCA, lobby hard for anti-immigrant legislation, such as seen in Arizona with SB 1070 and Georgia with SB 87. Private prisons are also responsible for neglect and abuse in prisons. Such legislation and examples of abuse and neglect directly contradict United Methodist stances and biblical teaching.
We, as United Methodists, believe that profiting from private prisons and owning stock in private prison corporations like GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America is incompatible with biblical teaching. Therefore, we call for The United Methodist Church to:
1. Immediately divest from all investment in private prison corporations, including Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group, and
2. Take all money earned to date of divestment from ownership of the stock in Geo Group and CCA, and give it to organizations dedicated to helping those coming out of prison to reenter society.
For further study:
Immigrants for Sale, http://youtu.be/vuGE1VxVsYo