ASUCI Legislative Council passed a bill asking for a divestment from the Prison Industrial Complex (R49-57) on Thursday, Feb, 13 in Woods Cove B and C.
The resolution was written by Executive Vice President Melissa Gamble and received seconds by Humanities Representative Khaalidah Sidney and At-Large Representative David Hollingsworth.
The resolution will divest from companies that fund the private prison system. Divestment in this case is being used as a tool to create social change by removing funding from companies that are funding a particular group. The UC system has divested from other issues in the past, such as fossil fuels and companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
The resolution calls for several ASUCI groups to look over the investments made by ASUCI. The group consists of the Executive Cabinet, the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee and UCI’s Senior Financial Analyst. Some of the companies listed in the resolution that are funded by UCI currently and profit from the prison industrial complex are Wells Fargo, American Express and Proctor and Gamble. After studying the investments in depth, the groups will decide which investments to keep and which to sell based on their involvement in the private prison system. These recommendations will be placed in front of Chancellor Drake, UC Regents and UC President Janet Napolitano.
This divestment will not only apply to current investments but also future investments. The new investments will be toward companies that use fair trade and labor practices, support non-discriminatory hiring practices, and give their employees fair wages and benefits.
The prison industrial complex is the collaboration of government and industry to incarcerate individuals at record levels. The United States has a higher incarceration rate than any other developed nation. The Prison Industrial complex uses an increasing of policing and surveillance to incarcerate more and more people. People of color face a disproportionate incarceration rate compared to the general population. In the United States, 40 percent of prison inmates are African American.
Education has systematically faced decades of cuts while funding for prisons has increased by 436 percent since the 1980s. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there has been an increase in private prisons since the 1970s. This decrease in education funding results in failing schools, and combined with an increase in funding for prisons and the higher incarceration rate, the school to prison pipeline is created.
The school to prison pipeline has several different factors. The first is an increase of criminalization in the school system. The increase of zero tolerance offenses in school policies leads to more students being expelled from school. There is also an increase in police officers on school campuses who handle small infractions that would normally be addressed by the school. The third factor in the school to prison pipeline is the lack of funding in education that is producing students who are unequipped for the workforce.