Georgia’s largest financial institution to sever ties with non-public jail business

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Georgia’s largest bank to sever ties with private prison industry


SunTrust Banks, the Atlanta-based banking large that’s set to merge with rival BB&T, introduced Monday that it could not present financing to corporations that function prisons and immigration detention facilities, changing into the newest lender to chop ties with the non-public corrections business.

The announcement got here amid studies that migrant youngsters have been held in overcrowded and unhealthy federal detention services. President Donald Trump denied these studies Sunday on Twitter, calling them “phony and exaggerated.”

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“To begin with, folks shouldn’t be coming into our Nation illegally, just for us to then must look after them. We must be allowed to give attention to … United States Residents first,” he tweeted. “Border Patrol, and others in Regulation Enforcement, have been doing an important job.”

The corrections corporations affected by the financial institution’s resolution defended themselves, accusing SunTrust of bending to political strain and never inspecting the details.

SunTrust didn’t specify what prompted its transfer, although its resolution adopted an internet petition drive from numerous activist teams opposing the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement insurance policies.

Financial institution of America staked out the same place final month, simply days after Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts introduced her plans for banning non-public prisons. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. made related commitments earlier this 12 months.

“Following an ongoing and deliberate course of, SunTrust has determined to not present future financing to corporations that handle non-public prisons and immigration holding services,” SunTrust stated in a ready assertion. “This resolution was made after in depth consideration of the views of our stakeholders on this deeply advanced concern.”

The most important financial institution in Georgia, SunTrust can also be No. 1 in metro Atlanta when it comes to deposits and has about 8,000 staff within the state. It plans to mix this 12 months with BB&T, a Winston-Salem, N.C.-based lender that has a regional hub in Atlantic Station and ranks fourth in complete deposits and retail places within the metro space. The $66 billion all-stock mixture will create the sixth-largest financial institution within the U.S. A BB&T spokesman stated the financial institution doesn’t present financing to the non-public jail business.

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The Division of Homeland Safety and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement didn’t reply to requests for remark Monday. The federal Bureau of Prisons declined to remark.

A few of the Peach State’s largest industries are routinely pulled into fiery debates over public coverage. For instance, Hollywood studios have warned of financial penalties since Gov. Brian Kemp signed into regulation new abortion restrictions this 12 months. However the highly effective Georgia corporations which have fiercely opposed a “non secular liberty” measure for Georgia have stayed mum in regards to the anti-abortion regulation.

Companies face dangers weighing in on hot-button points. Final 12 months, Delta Air Traces severed advertising and marketing ties with the Nationwide Rifle Affiliation, which infuriated some conservatives and prompted every of the main Republican candidates for governor to oppose a tax exemption for jet gas that was value tens of thousands and thousands of {dollars} to the Atlanta-based airline.

Wall Avenue banks, together with SunTrust, have credit score preparations totaling $2.6 billion with two massive corrections corporations, Nashville-based CoreCivic and Boca Raton, Fla.-based GEO Group, in line with a report launched in April by Within the Public Curiosity, the Public Accountability Initiative, and the Middle for In style Democracy.

CoreCivic, which has 1,581 staff in Georgia, operates the sprawling Stewart Detention Middle, a federal immigration holding facility in South Georgia. GEO Group has 1,200 staff in Georgia and operates the Folkston ICE Processing Middle, an immigration detention facility close to the Georgia-Florida border. It additionally runs the Robert A. Deyton Detention Facility in Lovejoy, the place ICE started holding a few of its detainees final 12 months.

Each corporations criticized SunTrust’s resolution and underscored that they don’t detain youngsters.

“Like others earlier than it, this resolution is about caving to political strain based mostly on false and deceptive statements about our firm,” CoreCivic spokeswoman Amanda Gilchrist stated. “Regardless of claims of an intensive evaluation course of, these banks have kowtowed to a small group of activists relatively than participating in a constructive dialogue in regards to the details.”

Gilchrist added that SunTrust has “a contractual obligation to proceed working with our firm by the expiration of our mutual settlement in 2023. We totally anticipate SunTrust and others to honor their commitments.” Suntrust declined to touch upon that.

GEO launched a ready assertion saying, “deceptive political activism has been allowed to impression a decade-long banking relationship.”

“The divestment efforts in opposition to our firm are based mostly on a false narrative,” GEO stated, “and a deliberate mischaracterization of our position as a long-standing authorities providers supplier.”

Monday, the Households Belong Collectively Company Accountability Committee, made up of greater than 100 organizations, referred to as on different banks to comply with SunTrust’s lead.

“SunTrust’s resolution to cease new financing to the non-public jail business and immigrant detention corporations is a testomony to the rising power of our motion and the ability of on a regular basis folks standing up for what’s proper,” the committee stated in an announcement. “Thousands and thousands of individuals and greater than 100 organizations have made their voices heard, signed petitions, in addition to protested financial institution branches and headquarters to demand an finish to financing an business cashing in on the caging of individuals of shade and immigrants.”


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