GEO Group and CCA are two of the largest companies operating for-profit prisons in the United States.
The UC’s move comes after months of pressure from the Afrikan Black Coalition (ABC), a campus activist group that accused the university system of complicity in supporting the “prison industrial complex.”
ABC Political Director Yoel Haile called the university’s decision “historic and momentous” in a statement shared on the group’s website.
“Divesting $25 million is a good step towards shutting down private prisons by starving them of capital,” Haile said. “This victory belongs to the masses of our people languishing behind America’s mass incarceration system.”
The University of California is the first public education system to divest holdings in private prison companies. In June, a student activist campaign pushed Columbia University to become the first institute of higher education to divest from these corporations.
Pablo Paez, Geo Group's vice president of corporate relations, told the LA Times that criticisms of these companies "rely on politically motivated sources to advance the inaccurate notion that private prisons are somehow unaccountable."
"Our facilities adhere to strict contractual requirements and standards set by state and federal governments," Paez continued.