Inclusive Economy | November 30, 2020

Lawsuit against Candide Group dismissed in latest setback for private prison operator

Amy Cortese
ImpactAlpha Editor

Amy Cortese

ImpactAlpha, Nov. 30 – A California judge dismissed a defamation suit brought in March by Nashville-based CoreCivic, one of the largest private prison operators, against Morgan Simon and her investment firm, Candide Group.

Simon has called attention to CoreCivic’s leading role in mass incarceration and the separation of migrant families in her Forbes column and other forums. Private prisons house 70% of immigrant detainees and receive more than $1 billion a year from federal contracts. “The  allegedly defamatory statements were true enough under the First Amendment and under California defamation law,” noted U.S. District Judge William Alsup.

It was the latest setback for private prison merchants, as banks and investors abandon the reputationally toxic sector and President-elect Joseph Biden pledges to end such contracts as part of broader criminal justice reform efforts.

Divested. JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and BNP Paribas are among the banks that have stopped lending to private prison firms. As You Sow’s Prison Free Funds online screening tool has helped investors avoid prison-related stocks.

CoreCivic suspended its quarterly dividend in June to preserve cash, and was bumped from the S&P MidCap 400 in August. Simon summed it up in an August column entitled, “Is this the beginning of the end for private prisons?”

Disrupting injustice. A new crop of ‘justice tech’ entrepreneurs such as Flikshop, R3 Score and 70 Million Jobs are designing tools to help individuals avoid the criminal justice system or transition out of it. The De-Carceration Fund, meanwhile, will invest in and support enterprises working to eliminate suffering caused by the criminal justice system.