A US-based multinational investment bank and financial services holding company. It has been one of the main financial backers of private prison companies CoreCivic and GEO Group. In 2019, it announced that it would exit its relationships with these companies. As of 2023, CoreCivic's and GEO Group's credit agreements do not publicly disclose the financial institutions involved.
Bank of America is a multinational bank and financial services company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2022, the company served 68 million customers across the U.S. and 31 other countries and generated $94.9 billion in revenue. As of 2023, it is the sixth largest bank in the world based on total assets.
Past Financing of Private Prison Companies
Bank of America has been identified as one of several major financiers of private prison and immigrant detention companies, having provided revolving lines of credit, term loans, and bond underwriting services to CoreCivic and GEO Group. While it announced in 2019 that it would exit its relationships with these companies, it is unclear, as of 2023, whether it has upheld this commitment.
In 2018, CoreCivic entered into an amended $1 billion credit agreement with a syndicate of banks that included Bank of America. Replacing a previous $900 million credit agreement, this credit facility was originally set to expire in April 2023. Under the agreement, Bank of America provided a $112 million revolving line of credit and a $28 million term loan; it also served as CoreCivic's administrative agent, securing its loans and acting as a go-between for the company and its lenders. In August 2020, Bank of America was replaced by Citizens Bank as administrative agent but remained a lender under this agreement until at least April 2023.
In 2019, GEO Group entered into an amended credit agreement, set to expire in 2024. This agreement effectively replaced the company's 2014 credit facility of the same amount, consisting of a $900 million revolving line of credit and a $792 million term loan. As part of a syndicate of banks, Bank of America served as a lender under the original agreement, contributing an undisclosed amount of money to the deal.
- September 2015: CoreCivic issued $250 million of bonds, with a maturity date of 2022. As part of a syndicate of banks, Merrill Lynch underwrote $40 million worth of these bonds.
- April 2013: CoreCivic issued two sets of bonds—one set totaling $325 million, with a maturity date of 2020, and another set totaling $350 million, with a maturity date of 2023. As part of a syndicate of banks, Merrill Lynch underwrote both sets of bonds; however, SEC filings do not disclose the proportion of bonds underwritten by the bank.
The bank has also provided financing to Comprehensive Health Services—a subsidiary of private company Acuity International (formerly Caliburn International)—which operated the largest migrant youth detention center in the U.S. Acting as an administrative agent and lender, it helped finance a $455 million credit agreement with the company. This agreement expired in September 2022.
Discerning the Company's Role in Current Credit Agreements
- October 2017: CoreCivic issued $250 million of bonds, with a maturity date of 2027. As part of a syndicate of banks, Merrill Lynch underwrote an undisclosed proportion of these bonds.
- April 2016: GEO Group issued $350 million of bonds, with a maturity date of 2026. As part of a syndicate of banks, Merrill Lynch underwrote $49 million worth of these bonds.
- September 2014: GEO Group issued $250 million of bonds, with a maturity date of 2024. As part of a syndicate of banks, Merrill Lynch underwrote $48.1 million worth of these bonds.
- March 2013: GEO Group issued $300 million of bonds, with a maturity date of 2023. Merrill Lynch served as the representative of the initial purchasers of the bonds, facilitating the sale of the bonds to the buyers.
In August 2022, GEO Group completed an offer to exchange/purchase certain outstanding notes, revolving credit loans, and term loans from certain lenders. As part of this agreement, GEO Group exchanged its outstanding bonds due 2023, 2024, and 2026 for newly issued bonds due 2028. SEC filings do not publicly disclose whether Bank of America is still involved in any of these agreements.
In May 2022, CoreCivic entered into an amended credit agreement, effectively replacing its $1 billion credit facility with a $350 million agreement. Consisting of a $250 million revolving line of credit and a $100 million term loan, this agreement extends the previous credit facility's April 2023 maturity date to May 2026. SEC filings do not disclose whether Bank of America is still involved in this agreement.
Past Involvement in Banking and Financial Services in Prisons and Private Security Contracts With G4S
In addition to financing private prison companies, Bank of America previously provided prisons with 'release cards': prepaid debit cards that formerly incarcerated individuals use to access remaining funds sent by loved ones or earned through prison labor. Unlike consumer credit cards, release cards subject cardholders to "exorbitant" transaction and maintenance fees and are "completely unregulated." Bank of America has since reportedly ended its prison release card operations.
As of 2018, Bank of America was one of the largest commercial customers of G4S, a private prison operator and subsidiary of Allied Universal, the world's largest private security company. Under a contract that ended in 2020, G4S provided over 3,000 Bank of America branches with security guards, CCTV systems, and other security products and services.
Involvement in Cop City
Bank of America and Merrill Lynch are corporate backers of the Atlanta Police Foundation (APF), the nonprofit arm of the Atlanta Police Department that, with the City of Atlanta, is constructing a militarized police training compound—'Cop City'—on protected forest land. As of August 2023, President and Co-head of Merrill Wealth Management, Eric Schimpf, serves on the APF's Board of Trustees. In 2022, Bank of America donated at least $120,000 to the APF for the operation of one of its At-Promise "youth crime diversion" facilities.
- 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.