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Prison Divestment Campaign condemns tax-breaks for private prisons & Million Shares Club at REIT Conference

Prison Divestment Campaign condemns tax-breaks for private prisons & Million Shares Club at REIT Conference

Multi-racial protest demands no tax breaks for gentrification & mass incarceration

   NEW YORK, NY – A coalition of prison divestment and housing advocates will protest the REITWeek 2015: NAREIT’s Investor Forum, demanding an end to tax breaks for prison profiteers and slumlords. From June 9 to 11, hundreds of investors will participate in the REIT Conference, including the Million Shares Club and CEOs of GEO and CCA. The coalition demands that private prisons & Million Shares Club stop displacing people from their homes and locking them up for profit.

For-profit prison industry leaders, the GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) together with the Million Shares Club (major investors owning over one million shares combined of CCA and GEO stock) are largely responsible for racist laws that target people of color and immigrants for incarceration, and expand the police state in poor communities.

In 2013, GEO and CCA received Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) status, which creates a loophole for them and their investors to make billions in profit from incarcerating people of color and immigrants tax free. In the first year of their REIT status, CCA paid no taxes when they earned a $71 million tax break even as their profits soared over 2012 levels. Meanwhile, GEO received a $26 million tax rebate.

“REIT status incentivizes the criminalization of communities of color. Every investor in CCA and GEO, two prison companies that actively lobby for increased immigrant detention and heightened criminal sentencing, now gets a bigger return on their investment in locking up people of color. We call for an end to tax breaks for private prisons, and an end to all contracts for private prisons,” said Daniel Carrillo, executive director of Enlace, the convener of the National Prison Divestment Campaign.

Members of the Million Shares Club are also part of the massive displacement of poor communities in New York City and other cities across the US. “REIT investors are behind New York City’s massive gentrification. There is no coincidence that these are the same investors responsible for the mass incarceration problem. REIT investors here today control communities of color and poor people to ensure the success of the 1 percent,” said Cathy Dang, executive director of CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities.

“Safety Beyond Policing is a campaign and movement vision that asks us to imagine community and safety outside policing and incarceration. This begins by resisting attempts to add 1,000 police officers to the NYPD at a financial cost of $100 million. When we trace the money behind this policy agenda we see the lobbying efforts of the New York Police Foundation, a private entity backed by finance and private prison investors. Our communities need an expansion in housing and education, not an increase in policing and private prisons,” said Benjamin Ndugga-Kabuye, Black Alliance for Just Immigration NYC organizer, who is currently organizing the Safety Beyond Policing campaign.

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    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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