The second largest banking institution in the US. Has been one of the main financiers of private prison and immigrant detention companies. In 2019 it has announced it would not provide these companies with new loans.
Bank of America is a multinational investment bank and financial services company based in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is the second largest banking institution in the U.S., with $2.38 trillion in assets, serving 66 million customers and small business clients in all 50 U.S. states and 31 other countries. Its revenue for 2018 was reported at $110.5 billion.
Bank of America has been identified as one of the six major banks supporting private prisons and immigrant detention. As part of a syndicate of banks, Bank of America has extended hundreds of millions of dollars in a revolving line of credit, term loans, and bonds to the two largest private prison and immigrant detention companies in the U.S.: CoreCivic and GEO Group. These companies rely on banks and financing organizations to bankroll their operations and expansion into more carceral and punishment industries. Moreover, Bank of America has served as CoreCivic’s administrative agent, securing the loans and credit limit for the corporation and acting as a go-between for these companies and syndicates of banks.
In May 2019, the bank has been exposed as the main backer of Caliburn International Corporation, the private company operating the U.S. largest migrant youth detention center in Homestead, Florida. The bank provided a $380 million loan and a $75 million revolving credit line to Caliburn, and was also listed as the underwriter of Caliburn’s IPO, which did not materialize.
Bank of America has also been identified as one of the investors that own over one million shares in CoreCivic and GEO Group, dubbed as “The Million Shares Club” and targeted by Freedom to Thrive. As of its 2018 filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Bank of America owned 202, 853 shares in CoreCivic and 867,973 shares in GEO Group.
In June 2019, Bank of America announced it would “exit its relationships” with private prison and immigrant detention companies. It is unclear from the announcement what this would entail. Existing loan agreements with these companies will continue for a few more years, and the announcement did not mention the bank's continued investment in private prison companies.
Additionally, Bank of America has provided banking and financial services within prison facilities. The Bank issues release cards to formerly incarcerated people, which allow them access to the funds they were arrested with. These release cards are controversial for their predatory lending practices and lack of alternatives or regulation. Bank of America, among other banks, has also been scrutinized for discriminating against immigrant clients. In 2018, Bank of America allegedly froze clients out of their accounts for not reporting their citizenship status.
The bank also holds an ongoing contract with G4S, another private prison company, to provide security services to all of its branches, making it one of G4S’ largest commercial customers. Bank of America renewed its contract with G4S in 2017 for another three-year period.
- On April 26, 2017, University of Wisconsin-Madison students passed a resolution to call for the university's divestment from private prisons and corporations that build border walls, naming Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Honeywell, L-3 Communications, Boeing, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, BNP Paribas, Suntrust, US Bank Corp., and Wells Fargo.