For-profit prison companies would be added to the list of investments the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) urges be banned or divested under a proposal recommended Monday by a committee of the 221st General Assembly (2014).
By a vote of 26-15, the Committee on Mission Coordination endorsed for Assembly approval this recommendation from the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Currently the action would affect two companies: Corrections Corp. of America and the GEO Group, Inc.
For-profit operations "turn the prisoner from a ward of the state to a commodity,” said supporter Parish Jones. “If beds aren’t filled, they still get paid.” Jones said approximately 2 million persons are incarcerated in the United States.
Teaching Elder Commissioner Deborah Mitchell of the Presbytery of San Francisco opposed the recommendation, saying through her experiences in working with the prison system in California, she believes the for-profit prisons help to alleviate over-crowding in government funded prisons, thus allowing for a better setting for all those involved.
The committee also unanimously recommended the confirmation of Linda Valentine's re-election as Presbyterian Mission Agency executive director.