Things That Matter

Here’s How US Banks Are Jeopardizing The Financial Future Of Private Prisons

Activists have been protesting to end the for-profit prison system. While there hasn’t been a lot of movement there, there is finally some news that shows the mounting pressure is working. Two major private prison companies, GEO Group and CivicCore have lost all of their major bank partners shutting down crucial credit lines. People are celebrating the announcement.

Infamous private prison companies CivicCore and GEO Group are in a lot of financial trouble.

Credit: @RAICESTEXAS / Twitter

According to Forbes, GEO Group and CivicCore are losing $2.4 billion in credit lines from the banks who were still doing business with them. For reference, that is 87.4 percent of all of their future funding. This is major news as the private prison system has relied on the investment and funding from these banks.

The two companies are behind the growth of the private prisons and detention centers littered throughout the country.

Credit: @ewarren / Twitter

JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, SunTrust, BNP Paribas, Fifth Third Bancorp, Barclays, and PNC have all pledged not to renew their business with the two incarceration-based companies. Private prisons are a rather new phenomenon in the U.S. and has led to questionable practices. Many critics question the business model that strives to increase the population and time of those incarcerated to make money.

People are celebrating this news as a move in the right direction.

Credit: @MonaVieBeachBum / Twitter

While the big banks have walked away, some smaller regional banks are still supporting the companies for now. Those banks include Regions (based in Birmingham, Alabama), Citizens Bank ( based in Providence, Rhode Island), Pinnacle Bank (based in Nashville, Tennessee)First Tennessee Bank (based in Memphis, Tennessee), and Synovus Bank (based in Columbus, Georgia).

Some folks took to Twitter to share dismay int he banks stepping away from the companies, but their arguments fell flat.

Credit: @Tocqueville001 / Twitter

It’s interesting that some people want private businesses to do what they want only when it benefits their views. It is hard to argue that these private companies should be sued for ending their business when you want private prison businesses to thrive.

The bottom line is that people do not want to know that people are financially profiting off of keeping people in prison.

Credit: @teefnolan / Twitter

Polls show the Americans favor rehabilitation over tough penalties and punishments. The mood is so favorable toward rehabilitation that even President Trump spoke about criminal justice reform.

Now, it seems activists might move their focus at for-profit bail companies.

Credit: @UdiACLU / Twitter

The for-profit cash bail bond industry is notoriously racist and classist. The concept of making people pay cash to be released from jail as they await their court date disproportionately impacts low-income communities of color.

READ: US Immigration Officials Are Using Google Translate To Read Migrant’s Social Media Posts Instead Of Hiring Actual Translators

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Protests Against ICE Detention Centers Reached New Heights As Airplanes Typed Messages In The Sky Across The U.S.

Things That Matter

Protests Against ICE Detention Centers Reached New Heights As Airplanes Typed Messages In The Sky Across The U.S.

Dee Gonzalez / In Plain Sight

A global pandemic is still gripping the United States – along with much of the world. But still many Americans headed outside over the long holiday weekend and, before the evening fireworks, were greeted by powerful anti-ICE messages written in the skies.

The skywriting campaign comes as much of the world’s attention is focused on Covid-19 and organizers hope to redirect some attention on the thousands of migrants who remain locked up in detention centers across the country.

Activists took to the skies at more than 80 sites across the country with a powerful message against U.S. immigration policy.

Over the July 4th weekend, two fleets of skytyping airplanes created artist-generated messages across the U.S. The fleet of aircraft targeted 80 different ICE detention facilities, immigration court houses, processing centers, and former internment camps. Written with water vapor, the messages are designed to be seen and read for miles.

Each message ended with #XMAP, which, when plugged into social media, directs users to an online interactive map that offers a view of the closest ICE facilities to the user.

Visitors to the event’s website are encouraged to donate to local funds like the Black Immigrant Bail Fund and join the #FreeThemAll campaign, which advocates for the release of detainees from crowded facilities, where social distancing is often impossible right now.

The ambitious project took a year to plan, and is one component of an artist-led protest against immigrant detention and America’s mass incarceration problem. With “In Plain Sight,” organizers are hoping to educate viewers—and to encourage the abolition of facilities such as these.

“I think the public is somewhat aware of what’s happening in detention centers—they’ve seen the images of kids in cages—but they don’t know the full scale,” said Cassils, in an interview with Quartz.

The team aimed to set a national record with its #XMAP campaign.

Credit: In Plain Sight

The artists reached out to the only skywriting company in the country (which owns the patent on skywriting) and learned that the largest campaign executed over U.S. soil involved about 80 sites and three fleets of planes. That established the project’s framework, and from there they went about the task of bringing on collaborators, many of whom have experiences with immigration and the detainment of oppressed minority groups.

The artists they tapped vary in age, gender identity, and nationality; some are formerly incarcerated, or are descended from the descendants of Holocaust survivors. Black, Japanese-American, First Nations and Indigenous perspectives are present, speaking to the historical intersections of xenophobia, migration, and incarceration.

The protests were seen throughout Southern California – from LA to San Diego.

Credit: In Plain Sight

In Southern California, the demonstration kicked off on the 4th of July at 9:30 a.m. above the Adelanto Detention Center, before traveling to downtown L.A., where 15-character messages will be left in the late morning airspace above immigration facilities, county and federal lockups and courthouses. The planes then traveled to the Arcadia and Pomona locations of internment camps where Japanese Americans where held prisoner during World War II.

Later in the afternoon, planes were seeing typing messages in the sky above the Terminal Island detention center, before traveling further south to Orange County and San Diego, where messages were left above courts and immigration offices.

The campaign also popped up in El Paso, TX, where a massacre last year left many Latinos dead.

Credit: In Plain Sight

Binational, El Paso-based artist Margarita Cabrera activated the El Paso-Juárez portion of the performance with her message “UPLIFT: NI UNX MAS” at the Bridge of the Americas.

“Uplift” refers to uplifting immigrant communities, as well as the border fence and other immigration detention facilities. “Ni unx más” was inspired by Mexican poet and activist Susana Chávez’s 1995 phrase “ni una muerta más,” or “not one more [woman] dead.” The phrase protests femicides in Mexico, particularly in Juárez. Cabrera used X to be gender-neutral. 

“This is a call to abolish this systematic violence and the incarceration and detention of our immigrants,” Cabrera told the El Paso Times. “We’re creating a sky activation, but we’re also grounding it with local events.”

Across the border in New Mexico, “ESTOY AQUI” and “SOBREVIVIRE” were respectively written over the Otero County Processing Center and Otero County Prison Facility. The messages draw from songs respectively by Shakira and Mexican pop star Monica Naranjo. Designed by artists Carlos Motta and Felipe Baeza, the full message, “I am here, I will survive,” is intended for both detainees and outside onlookers.

“We wanted to address those in the detention sites and acknowledge the fact that they are there, that we know they are there, and that they will be fine eventually even if their conditions are precarious and they are going through a difficult time right now,” Motta told the El Paso Times.

And in New York City, several major monuments became canvases for the activists’ message.

Credit: In Plain Sight

In New York City, the words “My pain is so big” were written over a detention center in downtown Brooklyn.

“To be human,” wappeared over Rikers Island and “Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia,” the name of the first immigrant to die from Covid-19 in detention was projected at the Statue of Liberty monument in Ellis Island.

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Prisoner Starts His Own Cooking Show On TikTok And, Like, How

Culture

Prisoner Starts His Own Cooking Show On TikTok And, Like, How

@blockboyjmomey / TikTok

Another day, another prisoner blowing up on TikTok. Jeron Combs, 31, is the latest TikTok prisoner sensation with his cooking show. You read that right. The man is creating foods in his prison cell and broadcasting it to the rest of the world via TikTok.

Jeron Combs, aka @blockboyjmomey on TikTok, is a cooking sensations.

Credit: @blockboyjmomey / TikTok

One of his most popular videos is the burrito that he was able to put together in his prison cell. The 31-year-old, who is in prison for first-degree murder and attempted murder, took his 1.3 million TikTok followers through a step-by-step guide to create the burritos.

We can’t be sure but it does seems like he cooks for all of those around him.

Credit: @blockboyjmomey / TikTok

We don’t know how many burritos he made but it is clear he is cooking for more than just he and his cellmate. Unless he and his cellmate are hungry enough to eat all of those burritos.

He has managed to use his metal bed frame to double as a griddle to cook the food.

Credit: @blockboyjmomey / TikTok

His bed frame is literally used to heat up his food and to make those burritos hot and fresh. Not going to lie, they look pretty delicious.

He even shows how he is able to heat up his bed frame to create the griddle: a hot plate.

Credit: @blockboyjmomey / TikTok

Genius, tbh. However, how was he able to get everything that he needed in order to create his griddle bed? Also, how did he set up a TikTok account and manage to post regularly? His burrito video has more than 4 million views alone.

For some, this is what the Internet is for.

Social media has a way of always outdoing itself with wild content. Like, this is not the first nor will it be the last prisoner to use TikTok or any other social media platform to flex. Who can forget the prisoner who posted to Instagram about the Popeye’s chicken sandwich?

For others, this is some wholesome content.

Sure, the video itself is pretty fine. However, do not forget that the man is in prison for murder. So, while the prison burrito might be a fun gimmick, it is still odd to celebrate.

A whole other group of people is just made their boy got exposed.

What do you think about the prison burrito video?

READ: The Internet Wants To Know How A Prisoner Got A Popeyes Sandwich And Posted It To His IG Story

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