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Does it seem reasonable for the pensions of New Mexico’s retired teachers to be dependent on profits from private prison companies – especially considering how many of their students are impacted by the continued incarceration of their immigrant relatives?

Over the last few months, we’ve been working with the Santa Fe Dreamers Project and a group of retired teachers in New Mexico, who were shocked to learn that the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board’s pension fund is one of 24 state educators’ pension plans which has direct investments in The Geo Group (GEO) and CoreCivic (CXW), the two publicly-traded private prison companies in the United States.

In the last few weeks, pressure has mounted on the Board’s leadership to divest from these companies: the Santa Fe School District’s board voted unanimously to recommend divestment, and many other school districts across the state are considering the same. Despite the increased public attention, though, the Board’s Executive Director, Jan Goodwin, has refused requests to meet with us to discuss the matter. And a long article in last week’s Santa Fe Reporter (which uses investment data I provided, and quotes me extensively), certainly doesn’t relieve that pressure.

This divestment campaign will not be quick or easy, since the Board would have to make an official change to its long-standing investment policies. But we think it’s vital that the Board take a public stand against the devastating moral horrors of the private prison industry, and we’ll continue to help with this campaign however we can.