PRISON LEGAL NEWS: by Gary Hunter; September 15, 2007
For-profit private prison operator Management & Training Corporation (MTC) has recently lost lucrative contracts to run prisons in the United States and Canada. While the private prison industry is dominated by industry giants Corrections Corporation of America, Geo Corporation and Cornell Corrections, a number of smaller private prison companies hold the remaining 20% of the private prison market. Not as well-known as their bigger colleagues, nonetheless, these companies suffer the same problems and shortcomings of their industry as a whole. The ongoing consolidation of the private prison industry by CCA and Geo Corp. also makes the ongoing existence of the smaller companies questionable. The smaller companies tend to lack the deep pockets, lobbying resources and economies of scale that make CCA and Geo Corp., the dominant players in the private prison industry. But none of that really matters to the prisoners housed in the smaller for-profit prisons nor to the people employed by them.
Before terminating its contract at New Mexico’s Santa Fe County jail in 2005, the company had been sued for a wrongful death, rape, suicide and illegal strip searches at the facility. The Canadian government also declined to renew MTC’s management contract for the Central North Correctional Center (CNCC) in 2006 following two prisoner deaths, multiple stabbings, employee protests, and a comparative study that found a physically identical, publicly-run facility was more cost effective and efficient. These incidents compound other problems the company has experienced over its troubled past.
MTC, based in Utah, was incorporated in 1980 after its parent company, Thiokol, began divesting itself of all non-aerospace interests. At the time Thiokol operated the Clearfield Job Corp center and similar projects; MTC emerged from Thiokol as the independent operator of four Job Corp contracts. Today MTC employs about 7,200 people and has been lauded by Utah Business magazine as the state’s largest private company.
MTC has a corrections division and another division that operates U.S. Dept. of Labor Job Corps training programs (the latter constitutes about 2/3 of the company’s business).
Robert, Dr. Bob, Marquardt, MTC’s founder, said, “I saw the model MTC is based on when I was eight.” At the time the young Marquardt was accompanying his aunt, who managed a women’s prison in Ohio.
“Those women were all active and learning new skills. The idea is that most people are educable. Some just don’t want to try out of fear of failure.”
Though Dr. Bob, 80, is still active in MTC as the company’s chairman, he has been succeeded by his son, Scott Marquardt, who serves as MTC’s president.
MTC opened its first prison in 1987. It currently operates a dozen facilities with a combined population of 8,400 prisoners in the U.S. and Australia. Dr. Bob has touted an unbelievably low recidivism rate close to 20 percent at some of the company’s prisons; there is, however, a darker and more dangerous side to MTC’s operations.
Ineptness in New Mexico
Dickie Ortega was being held at the MTC-managed Santa Fe County Adult Detention Facility in New Mexico when he died from internal bleeding and blunt force trauma to the head inflicted by gang members in the cell-block where he was housed.
Daniel Good, Jesus Aviles-Dominguez, Joe Cortiz, and Lawrence Gallegos were charged with murdering Ortega, who had been labeled a snitch by the Norteños gang. Hours earlier the gang had also severely beaten Brad Ortega, Dickie’s cousin, before another prisoner told them they had attacked the wrong person. Dickie Ortega had been beaten by the gang weeks earlier at the jail, a fact that he shared with jailers when he was being booked for his latest charge. But MTC guards ignored his protests and placed him in the pod with his enemies anyway.
On June 5, 2004, Dickie Ortega succumbed to lethal head and facial injuries and a crushed larynx. During the attack one attacker was overheard saying to another, “You were kicking his head like a basketball … the dude is puking blood.”
Attorneys Robert Rothstein and Mark Donatelli represented Ortega’s family in a wrongful death suit. Their complaint alleged a variety of problems at the facility including staff shortages, a lack of security precautions and gang members running the jail.
When an MTC guard observed Ortega’s prone body on the floor of his cell, gang members told him that Ortega was simply going through heroin withdrawal. The guard walked away, and later “admitted to being intimidated about the situation.”
MTC was apparently intimidated by the lawsuit filed by Ortega’s family, the company agreed to settle the case on March 27, 2007 under confidential terms. See: Martinez v. MTC, USDC NM, Case No. 2:06-cv-00567-RB-ACT.
Earlier, in 2002, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reported that the Santa Fe facility put prisoners at risk due to deficiencies that included: “blind spots from the unit control centers making it impossible for guards to see inside most cells, showers and multiple occupancy settings, a lack of video or camera surveillance in any of the units, and no intercoms or call buttons in the cells.” The report also found that “corrections officers were ‘overextended and … cited nine incidents of violent attacks on inmates occurring between Oct. 11, 2001 and March 2, 2002.'”
The following year, the DOJ reiterated its position that staff shortages and classification systems required correction “[t]o protect inmates from unreasonable risks of harm.” The DOJ also found MTC’s suicide prevention practices at the jail “seriously deficient” in its 2003 report.
Juan Ignacio-Sanchez, 22, was found dead in his jail cell on March 17, 2004 after hanging himself with his own shoelaces. His mother had called the facility to warn jail officials that her son “had been crying uncontrollably the night that he was arrested, was very depressed, tired and confused, and he had told the police that he was going to kill himself if he did not get help.”
His mother’s warnings were ignored. Before placing Ignacio-Sanchez in his cell the guards took his shoes but left him with the shoelaces.
“There was absolutely no valid correctional justification for allowing Ignacio-Sanchez to retain the shoelaces, particularly without the shoes,” stated documents in a subsequent lawsuit that accused the MTC-run jail of having inadequate suicide-prevention policies.
The following year, on August 24, 2005, Michael Martinez, 39, was found in his cell after hanging himself from a light fixture. Martinez was already in the medical ward at the time he took his own life.
Santa Fe County jail prisoner Christopher Roybal died due to a heroin overdose on Feb. 18, 2005; his family accused MTC guard Amos Romero of supplying the drugs. Romero was arrested after being caught in a sting operation taking what he believed were drugs into the jail; he later plead guilty to conspiracy charges. Roybal’s family filed a tort claim notice, and their lawsuit naming MTC was later removed to U.S. District Court. The case was remanded back to state court on May 9, 2007 and is still pending. See: Roybal v. MTC, Santa Fe District Court (NM), Case No. D-101-CV-200700382.
Veronica Sanchez was arrested for drunk driving on September 8, 2004. After being left unattended by MTC guards in the booking area, Sanchez entered what she thought was her cell. Instead, she had mistakenly entered a room holding male prisoners, where she was raped.
She was found by jail guards two hours later and taken to a hospital for an examination. Upon her return she was further humiliated by jail strip search policies that have since cost MTC and the county $8.5 million in a class action settlement.
Sanchez’s lawsuit over MTC?s security and operational deficiencies that led to her sexual assault was settled confidentially in May 2007. See: Sanchez v. MTC, USDC NM, Case No. 1:06-cv-00912-BRB-RHS.
Kristi Seibold and Elizabeth “Lisa” Leyba, among other plaintiffs, filed a lawsuit against the Santa Fe county jail after being subjected to unconstitutional strip search practices that were enforced by MTC employees.
During a sting operation in September 2004, Leyba was arrested for selling alcohol to a minor in a bar where she worked as a bartender. Leyba contended that the bouncer at the door was responsible for checking IDs.
When Leyba arrived at the jail a female guard made her strip completely naked and turn in a circle. Leyba complied, but not to the guard’s satisfaction. Leyba was required to turn in a circle again, this time more slowly. She was then forced to stand naked while the guard searched her clothes.
Kristi Seibold endured humiliating strip searches twice in the same year. In January 2004 she was arrested for refusing to surrender her dog to animal control authorities. In December 2004 she was arrested again for a traffic ticket she had already paid.
According to Seibold, a female jail guard ran her hands up and down her arms and legs during the search and left the door slightly open, which exposed her to outside observers while she was naked.
Attorney John Bienvenu of the Rothstein, Donatelli law firm said that guards pointed out a peephole in the door to the room where the searches took place, and admitted they would sometimes gather for a look. “I felt so exposed,” Seibold said. “I felt so violated in that they really took their time.”
“It was one of the last things I expected to have happen to me,” added Leyba. “I was humiliated. It still bothers me.”
Their class action lawsuit accused the county and MTC of conducting illegal strip searches at the jail for over three years. “I believe it was a deliberate policy to ignore the law,” said Bienvenu.
MTC denied the accusations but agreed to shell out $8 million in a settlement approved by the U.S. District Court on December 8, 2006. The county paid $500,000.
Attorneys Bienvenu, Robert Rothstein and Mark Donatelli were paid $2 million in fees. Leyba, Seibold and nine other lead plaintiffs received $42,750 apiece, and an estimated 13,000 former prisoners will each receive between $1,000 and $3,500. See: Leyba v. Santa Fe County Board of Commissioners, et al., USDC NM, Case No. 6:05-cv-00036-BB-ACT. Complete details were reported in the January, 2007 issue of PLN.
MTC announced on April 13, 2005 that it would prematurely terminate its two-year contract to operate the jail in Santa Fe, stating it was unprofitable.
Deviant Private Prison Guards
Wendell Montano, an MTC guard at the Santa Fe County Adult Detention Facility, apparently was not content to just watch female prisoners being strip searched through a peephole. Jail prisoner Victoria Griego alleged in a lawsuit that Montano sexually harassed her and other female prisoners.
According to Griego, Montano repeatedly asked her to show him her breasts, and on two occasions walked in on her while she was naked.
Griego claimed that in one incident she had a sheet up in her cell as she undressed and Montano walked in and just stared at her. When she told him to leave, Montano simply replied “sheesh” and walked off.
On another occasion Griego had her sheet up as she used the toilet in her cell. Montano again came in unannounced and watched her. In her suit, Griego claimed that “Montano was never accompanied by a female guard, as was required under [jail] policies and/or procedures.”
Her complaint also maintained that Griego was ordered several times by guards to “stand in a circle with other inmates and bend over and spread open her buttocks for viewing by defendants for no other purpose than training new employees.” Attorney Charles Firth added that at least three female employees at the jail had filed sexual harassment charges against Montano.
When the county regained control of the jail from MTC in October 2005, Montano was released from his position at the facility.
The Santa Fe County jail isn’t the only MTC facility in New Mexico with predatory guards. In 2003, Brian Orr, employed at the company’s New Mexico Detention Center in McKinley County, was charged with repeatedly sexually assaulting two female prisoners and photographing them in the nude.
Sheila Black and Christy Herden were transfer prisoners being held in New Mexico because the Wyoming Women’s Center (WWC) was overcrowded. WWC has experienced crowding problems for nearly a decade, and female prisoners from Wyoming have been sent to the McKinley County prison since 1999.
A lawsuit was filed on behalf of Black, Herden and a third female prisoner by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against MTC, the Board of Commissioners, Warden Gilbert Lewis and Orr.
“If proper safeguards had been in place, these assaults may never have occurred,” said Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico.
Linda Burt, who heads the ACLU’s Wyoming chapter, agreed. “We realize that prisons are not pleasant places. However, all prisoners are entitled to basic rights, and protection against predatory guards is one of those rights,” she said. The case settled for an undisclosed amount in January 2007. See: Black v. Orr, USDC NM, Case No. 1:05-cv-01286-WJ-KBM.
Orr fled the state after criminal charges were filed; the former MTC guard had resigned his position at the prison but failed to show for his arraignment in August 2005. He was later arrested on a fugitive warrant after being apprehended in Las Vegas.
Canadian Crises and Complications
The 1,184-bed Central North Correctional Center (CNCC) in Penetanguishene, Ontario was turned over to MTC by Canada’s Conservative government in 2001. The company immediately proceeded to reduce costs by minimizing medical care and reducing staff positions, actions that proved lethal for several prisoners.
A coroner’s report found that CNCC prisoner Jeffrey Elliott, 20, died from blood poisoning after he accidentally cut his hand on a food hatch while working in the prison’s kitchen in August 2003. He was denied adequate medical care. Tom Elliott, Jeffrey’s father, filed a wrongful death suit against MTC, Canadian officials and a private medical contractor, asking for $150,000 and the removal of MTC from management over the facility.
“It’s not a money issue, I’m not concerned about money,” said Elliott. “I will settle for nothing less than a public apology to let the public know that this wasn’t right.”
The elder Elliott professed his love for his son while admitting, “sometimes people do wrong. I don’t condone what he did but he shouldn’t have had to pay with his life.” He went on to say that he wanted to “make the public understand that it could be their son or daughter.”
On December 17, 2003 a CNCC guard, Dwight Stoneman, was badly beaten when he entered a pod to lock up a prisoner.
“I just turned slightly with my body to say [to the prisoner], ‘There’s the door,’ and when I did, I don’t remember anything else for probably three or four minutes,” said Stoneman. “During that time, I was taking all kinds of hits to the body and head. I was basically blacked out but standing up.”
Stoneman was assaulted while he was training a female guard on her first day at work. She was not injured.
“There shouldn’t have been just the two of us,” he stated. “There should have been probably four or five and this is the shortcoming of private prisons. They’ve got to economize some way and there’s only so many paper clips you can save. The only other area you can cut back on is either meals or the officers on duty.”
On June 27, 2005, an unnamed CNCC guard was stabbed in the neck by a prisoner during a confrontation. A second guard was threatened by the 18-year-old assailant, who was charged with attempted murder, assaulting a peace officer, threatening death and breach of probation.
The month before, a bullet and some razors were found at the prison, resulting in a unit-wide lockdown and a refusal to work by many of the guards. “The one thought is, if there’s a bullet, is there a gun,” said Sean Wilson, president of OPSEU Local 369. The bullet was found in the front administration area and the razors were discovered in the ensuing cell searches.
The work refusal by MTC’s guards forced the Canadian government to recognize a major shortcoming of privatization: Guards in publicly-run prisons are not allowed to strike. Employees at CNCC had participated in two earlier work refusal actions in October 2004 due to weapons being found at the prison and problems with the facility’s central control computer. It was never disclosed who placed the items in the prison or how they arrived.
Even local church groups turned against MTC. Rev. Canon Douglas Graydon, coordinator of the Chaplaincy for the Dioceses of Toronto, explained how MTC had managed to pare the chaplaincy services at CNCC to less than two chaplains for almost 1,200 prisoners.
“[Our] argument was that by reducing the level of service, they [MTC] were denying prisoners access to spiritual and religious care. By working in concert with a lot of organizations … we kept up the pressure and wouldn’t let the [newly elected Liberal] government forget its election promise? to return the prison’s management to the public domain,” said Rev. Graydon.
Canadian Correctional Service Minister Monte Kwinter explained, “We carefully studied [CNCC’s] overall performance compared with the publicly-operated Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) in Kawartha Lakes and concluded the CECC performed better in key areas such as security, health care and reducing offending rates. As a result, the government will allow the contract with the private operator to expire.”
The comparison study, conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers, indicated that CECC outperformed CNCC in eight out of ten categories. MTC didn’t contest the Canadian government’s decision not to renew its $170 million contact, although it released a statement on May 10, 2006 expressing disappointment and citing the cost savings it had achieved (albeit at the expense of safety and the lives of Jeffrey Elliott and another prisoner who was killed at the facility in 2004).
The company’s contract to operate CNCC expired in November 2006.
Sharon Dion, the chairperson of Citizens Against Private Prisons and a driving force behind driving MTC out of Canada, called the transfer of the prison back to the public sector “an enormous victory,” saying she “couldn’t be more pleased.”
Dion had been actively vocal against MTC since the murder of CNCC prisoner Minh Tu on May 5, 2004. Minh Tu was killed following an argument over a board game, even though several guards testified that prison officials had been warned, in a note, that a knife was at the facility and that a killing would take place.
Minh Tu’s death led to the prosecution of four CNCC prisoners. Nana Prempeh and David Clarke pleaded guilty to manslaughter; Jawad Mir pleaded guilty to murder after the fact; and Richard Quansah was sentenced in August 2006 to life in prison after being found guilty of first-degree murder. At least four other prisoners were stabbed at CNCC during MTC’s tenure, and one had his ear ripped off in a February 2005 attack. Two MTC guards were charged with drug offences in 2004.
Mr. Elliott, father of deceased CNCC prisoner Jeffrey Elliot, said he cried tears of joy the day the prison changed hands. “At least now there was a purpose for his son’s death,” he stated.
“A Facility for the Future”
Despite the company’s recent spate of problems, MTC still maintains a profit growth of about 4 percent a year. That’s because the company quickly learned one of the crucial secrets to success in the private prison industry: Build prisons in Texas.
Capitalizing on President Bush’s determination to staunch the flow of illegal immigrants at the Mexican border, MTC launched an ambitious plan to construct a tent prison in Raymondville, Texas. The $60.6 million Willacy County Processing Center consists of ten domed structures made out of flexible Kevlar. Each housing unit holds 500 prisoners, with a maximum population capacity of 2,000.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement office (ICE) began shipping prisoners to the facility in Raymondville even before it was completed.
“This is a significant step toward [President Bush’s] plan to ensure that all illegal aliens are apprehended along the U.S. border with Mexico and detained and returned to their home countries,” said Jaime Zuieback, an ICE spokeswoman.
The prison took less than two months to build. By March 2, 2007 it already held 1,691 detainees 1,250 men and 441 women. “The fast-track order came after President Bush provided Congress with his proposed [fiscal year] 2007 budget,” MTC said in a press release.
ICE official Marc Moore insisted that MTC was “running a quality operation that provides a safe, secure, healthy environment.” Moore based his claim on the fact that prisoners have not grieved such items as medical care, lack of clean clothes, or access to lawyers. However, reporters were not allowed to interview prisoners at the facility.
Willacy County officials were ecstatic. The MTC prison will provide hundreds of jobs for local residents and the county will receive $2.25 per day for the first 1,800 prisoners and $50.25 a day for every prisoner over 1,800.
Not everyone is happy, though. Jay Johnson Castro, a border activist from Del Rio, Texas, called MTC’s Raymondville facility a “concentration camp,” while members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams Borderlands Witness program have held vigils at the prison. On June 24, 2007, approximately 75 protestors converged on the MTC-run detention center, urging authorities to “shut down tent city.” Immigration attorney Jodi Goodwin said there have in fact been complaints by detainees related to medical care and limited access to outside contacts.
On August 2, 2007, a local TV station reported that the MTC facility was serving substandard, rotten food. In one case more than 50 prisoners complained that their meals were infested with maggots, which was duly documented by MTC guards. One detainee reportedly attempted suicide because he was depressed and hungry, according to a guard who wanted to remain anonymous.
The history behind how MTC obtained its contract to run the Willacy County detention facility is also fairly rotten.
MTC gave Texas state Senator Eddie Lucio a scare when the company was implicated in a federal bribery investigation in 2005. MTC and two other firms, Corplan Corrections and Aguirre Corp., were named in a bribery scheme in which former Willacy County Commissioners Israel Tamez and Jose Jimenez admitted to accepting more than $10,000 in bribes in exchange for favorable votes in a $14.5 million private prison project. Jimenez pleaded guilty but died before he was sentenced; Tamez received six months in prison, three years of supervised release and a $25,000 fine.
Senator Lucio had been working as a consultant for MTC at the time of the scandal but immediately cut all ties with the company when the investigation began. He then offered all of his consulting contracts to the Texas Attorney General’s office and Ethics Commission for scrutiny.
Both Lucio and MTC were cleared of any wrongdoing. “They’re an outstanding operation,” Lucio said afterwards of MTC, despite having quickly distanced himself from the company. Resuming his position as a consultant to the private prison vendor, Senator Lucio was instrumental in helping MTC garner the $60.6 million contract for the Willacy County facility. He did not disclose the amount of his consulting fee.
“President Bush is beefing up the border,” said Lucio. “[But] nothing is going to stop people from [crossing the border] to seek the American dream. I think more people are going to get caught. This is going to be a … facility for the future,” he boasted.
More MTC Failures and Some Successes
MTC is not the most aggressive private prison builder; the company has passed up several ventures simply because it wasn’t large enough to fund the projects. For example, in 2006 it had to forego a contract to build a facility for state prisoners in Florence, Colorado. MTC had originally designed the prison to hold 1,250 men and 750 women, but several last-minute changes made the project too costly for the company to handle.
MTC’s proposal eventually fell through and the contract went to competitor GEO Group to build a prison in Ault, Colorado [see related article, “Colorado Investigates Former Prison Director for Malfeasance Following State Audit,” this issue of PLN].
MTC also declined an offer to take over a facility in Willacy County, Texas. Despite high expectations based on the company’s operation of two other Willacy County-based lock-ups, including the Willacy County Processing Center, MTC said the county’s new $7.5 million jail would not be “cost effective” for the company to manage.
In Eagle Mountain, California, the community still has not recovered from a race riot at an MTC-run facility in which eight prisoners murdered two others.
On October 25, 2003, Master Hampton, 36, and Rodman Wallace, 39, both from Los Angeles County, were killed during an attack by five Latinos and three whites at the Eagle Mountain Correctional Facility. Hampton and Wallace were black.
Seven other prisoners, six black and one Asian, were injured. “I walked onto the yard when it was over, and it looked like Beirut,” said Lt. Warren Montgomery, a state prison guard who was called in to help quell the violence. Combative prisoners at Eagle Mountain reportedly used meat cleavers and knives from the prison’s kitchen during the riot, as well as 2 x 4’s and mop handles. The incident was taped by security cameras; most of MTC’s unarmed guards fled when the fighting started.
Defense attorney Arnold Lieman called the deaths avoidable. “Nobody from MTC was authorized to use force or weapons,” he noted. He pointed to the fact that the prison’s weapon arsenal was locked on the night that the disturbance occurred, and the only guard who had the key worked the day shift. MTC closed the converted supermarket-turned-prison two months after the deadly riot, citing state budget cuts.
Lawsuits filed by Hampton’s and Wallace’s heirs against the state and MTC settled for $537,500 and $50,000, according to Los Angeles attorney James Muller.
MTC’s employees haven’t fared well, either. On January 31, 2007 it was reported that MTC had to pay almost $486,000 in back wages to current and former staff members at the company’s Willacy Co. Regional Detention Facility in Texas, a prison under contract with the U.S. Marshals Service. An investigation by the U.S. Dept. of Labor found that MTC workers had been shortchanged on overtime pay from Oct. 2003 to Sept. 2005. The company denied any wrongdoing, and characterized the payments for back wages as “voluntary.”
MTC’s most recent failure came late last year when commissioners from Greg County, Texas decided not to renew the company’s contract to lease 300 beds at the Greg County Jail.
Sheriff Maxey Cerliano said his jail had “not experienced any problems contractually with MTC”; the county had simply made other arrangements. MTC’s contract with Greg County expired in February 2007.
In Idaho, however, MTC almost had a prison contract fall into its lap. Idaho legislators had approved $1.5 million to build a drug treatment center as the state looked for alternatives to reduce its overpopulated prisons. The state currently incarcerates nearly 7,000 prisoners, with an additional 12,000 on probation or parole.
Everything seemed ready to go until the language of the bill prevented bidders from collaborating on the building and management processes.
Florida-based CentraCorp Properties Trust and New Jersey-based Community Education Centers Inc. had assisted former DOC Director Tom Beauclair in selling the proposal to state lawmakers. But complications in the wording of the bill kept the two companies from submitting an acceptable bid. “We ran into a lot of technical legal issues just trying to combine these two processes,” said state purchasing administrator Jan Cox.
Even a reconstructed version of the bill failed to eliminate the problem.
In November 2006 MTC was the only bidder for the contract, and it appeared the company would win the bid by default. “I think we’re at a point where, having gone through this a second time, we probably don’t have time to back out and do it a third time,” said Cox. But that was just what the state did. The second round for the RFP was cancelled, and both MTC and competitor GEO Group entered bids during the third round. The state is presently reviewing the companies’ proposals.
Not all of MTC’s business-related news has been bad. In January 2007, the Federal Bureau of Prisons renewed MTC’s $121.7 million contract to continue operating the Giles W. Dalby Correctional Facility in Post, Texas for another four years. The company has been managing the illegal immigrant detention center since 1998 and plans to add another 500 beds.
In April 2007 MTC opened a new prison, the East Texas Intermediate Sanction Facility, which will hold over 1,100 minimum-security state prisoners. The company spent $16 million to construct the facility, which was built in less than a year.
And on April 27, 2007, MTC announced it had won a four-year, $143-million contract to operate the 2,048-bed federal Taft Correctional Institution in California. The low-security prison was previously run by GEO Group; MTC was scheduled to assume management at the facility on August 20, 2007.
Perhaps troubled by its ups and downs in the U.S. and Canadian prison markets, MTC has shifted its interests into uncharted territory. In 2004, MTC’s International Workforce Development division sent 70 employees to Iraq to set up employment centers and vocational training programs under a contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development. The job training primarily consisted of construction trades, information technology and tailoring.
MTC founder, Dr. Bob, Marquardt said the results of the company’s efforts in Iraq had opened doors for the company all over the world. “We set ourselves up in a totally new market developing countries. A lot of countries don’t even have the infrastructure to support jobs yet, but we can prepare people for when they do.”
MTC has since worked with vocational centers in Jordan, and in 2006 company officials visited vocational schools in the West Bank/Gaza to conduct research on job training needs in Palestine. MTC has further provided training services to the African Development Bank in Tunisia and has assisted with a UNICEF project in Sudan to develop education policy materials for the Sudanese government.
Such international efforts to provide vocational job training in developing nations certainly sound worthwhile, but MTC is better known for its prison operations.
In 2003, MTC executive Lane McCotter, a former director of the Utah Dept. of Corrections, was one of four advisors sent to Iraq by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to assist with rebuilding the country’s prison system. McCotter had resigned from the Utah DOC in 1997 following an incident in which a mentally ill prisoner died after being strapped naked to a restraint chair for 16 hours.
McCotter played a leading role in opening Abu Ghraib, the notorious prison in Baghdad that has become synonymous with misconduct and torture by U.S. military personnel, and helped train Iraqi prison guards.
McCotter left Iraq before any prisoners were housed at Abu Ghraib and was not implicated in the ensuing scandal.
How long will it take before MTC considers building and operating private prisons in Iraq, or providing job training to Iraqi citizens in the fine art of locking up other Iraqis “those who manage to survive the ongoing occupation, that is”?