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Students and Communities Oppose Prisons for Profit

November 13, 2003
Contact: Bob Libal, Silky Shah
Phone: 512-971-0487 or 512-971-0486
Texas: Lehman Brothers campaign heats up.

Students highlight University of Texas’s connection with private prisons and increasing incarceration of immigrants, call for end with financial dealings with prison financier Lehman Brothers, Inc.

Austin, TX – November 13, 2003 – Students will gather to announce their opposition to business dealings with companies that finance private prison corporations on the steps of the University of Texas System Building at 601 Colorado Avenue Thursday at 3:30pm.

The students, representing a coalition of student organizations, will ask the UT System to formally end its business with UT bond underwriter Lehman Brothers, Inc – the largest financial backer of for-profit prisons in the United States.

“At a time when UT is raising tuition for students, it should not be supporting an industry that drains money from higher education while incarcerating millions of people,” says UT sociology student Frank Edwards. “UT should spend its money recruiting youth of color, not on supporting companies that incarcerate them.”

Texas has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country. Texas incarcerates more than 160,000 men and women. Even though universities have faced dwindling budgets, the prison system in Texas continues to expand. Recently, for-profit prison companies have shifted their focus to building immigrant detention prisons along the border and in west Texas. There are currently at least 5,700 private prison beds designed to incarcerate immigrants in construction or in proposal in Texas.

“Private prisons bank on increasing incarceration – especially amongst people of color and immigrants,” says Kena Piña, UT anthropology sophomore. “UT should not financially support companies like Lehman Brothers that drive prison expansion through their support of private prison companies.”

Lehman Brothers has underwritten bonds for the University of Texas System worth more than $600 million in the past since 1998. Lehman Brothers is also the largest financial backer of private prison companies; it has negotiated deals raising hundreds of millions of dollars for Corrections Corporation of America, Wackenhut Corrections, and Cornell – three of the largest private prison companies in the U.S.

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