From exploiting unpaid or cheap prison labor to price gouging basic necessities — companies continue to profit as incarceration rates increase.
In the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and the resulting widespread calls to defund police, investors are scrambling to figure out how to create portfolios that support racial equity.
For example, Calvert Research & Management, an industry leader in ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investing, recently made a commitment to push companies to disclose racial diversity data. This is a great first step, but more must be done. Investors cannot have a conversation about racial equity without talking about mass incarceration and the U.S. prison industrial complex.
The U.S. has 20% of the world’s incarcerated population — but less than 5% of its citizens. The mass incarceration crisis disproportionately impacts Black Americans — there’s a reason it’s called the “new Jim Crow.” Many companies have a direct financial incentive to keep this unjust system in place. From exploiting unpaid or cheap prison labor to price gouging basic necessities — companies continue to profit as…