Barclays Withdraws from Prison Financing to Honor Commitment

Media Release

Washington, D.C.—On Thursday, April 15 the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) and Social Venture Circle (SVC) announced the termination of the membership and refunding of dues to Barclays based on its involvement in a prison financing deal in Alabama.  Business leaders and investors rallied in their support encouraging Barclays to pull out of the deal.  A group of impact investors, business leaders, and social justice advocates called on global investors to refuse to purchase the $630 million taxable municipal bond offering by the Alabama Department of Corrections through the Wisconsin Public Finance Authority. Barclays, which led the financing, then announced it was pulling out of the deal. 

“We applaud Barclays’ decision to not underwrite the Alabama private prison bonds.  We invite them and all other financial institutions to sit down with us so we can chart a responsible and beneficial path forward for investing and rebuilding our communities, and our economy. The American Sustainable Business Council and Social Venture Circle and our businesses and investors will continue to speak out on injustice as we work towards solutions,” said David Levine, President and  Co-founder of American Sustainable Business Council. “The American Sustainable Business Council and Social Venture Circle refuse to perpetuate mass incarceration, systemic racism, and human rights abuses through the offering and purchase of taxable municipal bonds.”

“We stand with the activists, business leaders, and investors, vehemently opposed to any efforts to develop and build two prisons in Alabama. We are in full support of the initiative to stop the offering and made the decision to immediately return $15,000 in sponsorship and membership dues paid by Barclays and terminate their corporate membership immediately,” said Isaac Graves, Interim Executive Director, Social Venture Circle.  “We invite all businesses and impact investors we represent to join us in supporting the initiative to stop the offering.”

“Now is the time to invest in creating good jobs, growing responsible businesses all of which can benefit our communities and our economy,” said David Levine. 

Many members and supporters have voiced their opinions on the issue:

“The number of people housed in private prisons since 2000 has increased 32% compared to an overall rise in the prison population of 3%—disproportionately affecting Black and Brown lives. We hope Barclays Bank’s decision will serve as a reminder to other leaders in the financial industry that the public rejects mass incarceration and its profiteers,” said Kat Taylor, Impact Investor & Co-Founder and Board Chair of Beneficial State Bank.

“We are glad to learn that Barclays bank has made the decision to not underwrite the investment bond to fund the private prison industrial complex in Alabama. The ASBC and SVC community invests in solutions to end mass incarceration, not perpetuate it. Injustice is not sustainable. It takes conscious capitalism to ensure that return on investment is reparative, which is what our BIPOC communities require today. Barclays’ conscious decision renews our confidence in our community values,” said MaryAnne Howland, Board Chair of ASBC, Founder and CEO of Ibis Communications.

“Profiting from human suffering is just about the antithesis of social business. Savvy investors know that there are far better ways to make money, as generations of SVC investors have demonstrated,” said Morgan Simon, Founding Partner, Candide Group.

“We are proud that ASBC and SVC are standing with Black, Brown, Indigenous and systems impacted communities and other business leaders and investors—together we championed Barclays and other banks when they committed to stop financing private prisons and, together, we must also hold them accountable. ASBC and SVC are walking the walk. We welcome other investors, financial institutions, businesses, and community leaders to join us,” said Christina Hollenback, Founder and Principal, Justice Capital.

“As a member of SVC, I think it’s important to hold all members responsible for the basic principles that keep a healthy society and a thriving economy moving. The days of empty corporate platitudes are over, and I’m pleased to see our community standing up against the shameful stain in our modern history that private prisons represent,” said Nathalie Molina Niño, President, O³.

The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) partners with business organizations and companies to advocate for solutions and policies that support an equitable, sustainable, stakeholder economy. We are a multi-issue, business organization advocating on behalf of all sectors, sizes, and geographies of industry. ASBC and our association members collectively represent over 250,000 businesses across our networks.

We are coalition-focused in our approach to solving the pervasive and systemic issues of climate and energy, infrastructure, circular economy, and creating an inclusive stakeholder economy, all seen through the lens of racial equity and justice. We are changing the rules by which business is done so it is better for all people and the environment