The New York State Teachers’ Retirement System has millions of dollars invested in companies that operate private prisons as well as detention centers for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE.
The pension plan, which covers New York state teachers and educational administrators excluding New York City, said this week that at the end of the second quarter it owned 193,417 shares of
(ticker: GEO), valued at $4.1 million, and 245,392 shares of
(CXW), valued at $5.1 million. The pension made the disclosure in a form it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It owned about the same number of shares in those companies at the end of the first quarter.
The investments total less than a thousandth of NYSTRS’s $39.5 billion in U.S.-traded equities at the end of June. But owning the shares stands in contrast to its Empire State peers. The New York State Common Retirement Fund sold its investments in Geo Group and CoreCivic stock last July. New York City’s pension funds withdrew from the companies two years ago, in June 2017.
NYSTRS told Barron’s in an email that its investments in Geo Group and CoreCivic stock “are primarily in passive portfolios that track a broad market index.” It added, “About 60% of all our assets are passively managed.” The pension didn’t respond to a query asking if divestment of those two stocks had been discussed.
Geo Group stated on its site that “All ICE Processing Centers operated by GEO have a long-standing record providing high-quality, culturally responsive services in safe, secure, and humane environments.”
CoreCivic says it provides “safe environments where detainees can reside as they go through their legal due process in the United States.“
Both companies say they don’t house unaccompanied minors.
Inside Scoop is a regular Barron’s feature covering stock transactions by corporate executives and board members—so-called insiders—as well as large shareholders, politicians, and other prominent figures. Due to their insider status, these investors are required to disclose stock trades with the Securities and Exchange Commission or other regulatory groups.