A shareholder proposal from a Catholic group has led to an agreement from the management and board of a corporation that operates private prisons. But the proponents are not sure how significant that agreement will be.
These findings were detailed in “Proposal 4” on the proxy statement that GEO published ahead of the shareholders meeting. It was co-filed by a coalition of 12 Catholic groups — organized by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) — and a service employee pension fund in a collective, renewed effort to hold GEO accountable to its human rights policy.
Proposal 4 says: “Shareholders request that GEO report annually on its website to investors, beginning in September 2019, on how it implements the portion of the (human rights) policy that addresses ‘Respect for Our Inmates and Detainees.’”The Catholic co-filers are longtime shareholders of GEO who amass nearly 3,000 common shares — about $58,000 in stock. Their resolution, to be presented at the shareholder meeting and voted on by shareholders, is the latest installment of a 15-year campaign to make private prison corporations more accountable through what is commonly dubbed as “shareholder activism.”
After initially asking its shareholders to vote against the Catholics’ proposal, the board recanted its opposition and promised to release a report on human rights by the end of the year. This has never happened before; Fr. Bryan Pham, Jesuit leader of the Catholic coalition of investors, isn’t sure what to make of it.
“I’m glad GEO said they’re going to do this, but the dialogue we’ve had in the past with GEO hasn’t gone fast enough or in the direction that we want,” he said.