By: Jesse Fruhwirth
December 6th, 2012
The Utah Democratic Party is on the verge of choosing a private-prison profiteer to be a party officer. Management and Training Corporation vice chair Jane Marquardt is the hands-down favorite to win the race for party vice chair (yep, same job title), which will be held Saturday. We want your help in the next two days to persuade the party that private prisons are shameful and prison profiteers should not be community leaders!
While there are many reasons including mass incarceration to oppose for-profit prisons as an entire industry and on principle alone, there are some particularly problematic factors about MTC.
- What torture? Lane McCotter, former director of Utah Department of Corrections in the 1990s, resigned after it was proven that a 29-year old schizophrenic inmate died after being strapped naked to a restraint chair for 16 hours. Rather than having to find a job in a completely new industry after being disgraced by his professional peers, McCotter was then hired by MTC as their business development director. In 2003, shortly after abuses were found to be rampant in a New Mexico prison under MTC and McCotter’s supervision, he was asked by the US Department of Justice to reestablish Iraq’s prisons, including the infamous Abu Ghraib. According to UK’s Guardian, “McCotter left Iraq to resume his executive job at MTC in September 2003, a month before the worst documented atrocities against Iraqi prisoners occurred.” Terry Stewart, another MTC profiteer, is the former Arizona department of corrections chief and helped McCotter with Iraq’s prisons.
- Donations to racist policies: MTC has also favored racist immigration policies and politicians. MTC’s political action committee gave money to former Arizona Rep. Russell Pearce, the sponsor of Arizona’s immigration law SB1070 in the months leading up to his sponsorship of that law–Jane Marquardt herself donated to the PAC just months before that PAC donated to Pearce. SB 1070 was written by CCA and GeoGroup, the number 1 and number 2 private prison corporations, allegedly in conjunction with state lawmakers. SB 1070 is one of the most palpable examples of how private-prison industry frequently aligns and its money is used to hire lobbyists to demand more prisoners and bribe/donate to politicians to stoke racist fears in the public for more immigration detentions.
- Low Standards and Cheap Profits: A 2010 jail-break at an MTC prison lead to two people’s deaths. The Arizona Department of Corrections review of the tragedy reports that MTC prison staff didn’t know how to work the alarm, “staff are not proficient with weapons,” and perhaps most concerning, “it appears that very little action was taken to prepare the physical plant and the staff for the transition (from Minimum security custody) to Medium (Security) Custody in April 2010.” You know, because properly housing dangerous people is really expensive and there are profits to be found in keeping expenses low.
It’s time that people wake up that Jane Marquardt and prison profiteers can NOT buy our respect and should not be allowed to buy political influence. Indeed, Utah Democrats this week need to hear that prison profiteers should be ostracized from polite society–disinvite her from your holiday parties, Democrats, and certainly don’t elect her to be among party leadership.
You can help: Contact newly elected Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams. He is highly influential and popular and has endorsed Jane Marquardt, even appearing in a campaign video for her. Tell Mayor McAdams that prison profiteers are not community leaders–they are parasites that suck the life from our families and our communities. We’ve got two days to change his mind!
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams 801-618-1946
Also, call MTC, ask for Scott Marquardt–that’s Jane’s brother and boss–he’s the chair of MTC. Tell him that no one from a private prison company should be running for leadership of a community organization. Tell him we want Divestment from Private Prisons–not prison profiteers in positions of political power.
Management and Training Corporation 801-693-2600
Also, you can litter her campaign Facebook page with messages. Let her supporters know what you think of private prison profits!