“Progressive” Prison Profiteer

by NATHAN GOODMAN

Last Saturday, members of the Salt Lake City Prison Divestment Campaign told Utah’s Democratic Party the truth about Jane Marquardt, who sought a position as vice chair of the Utah Democratic Party’s Central Committee. You see, Jane holds another vice chair position: Vice chair of the board at Management and Training Corporation (MTC), America’s third largest operator of for-profit prisons.

While Marquardt is praised by establishment liberal organizations like Human Rights Campaign and Equality Utah for supporting LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) rights, her company profits from the disproportionate caging and abuse of LGBT people, especially transgender women. LGBT youth are disproportionately likely to be homeless, putting them at increased risk of criminalization. Furthermore, the poverty inflicted on members of the LGBT community through employment and housing discrimination increases their risk of incarceration. Transgender people have their risk of incarceration further exacerbated by being profiled for “prostitution” charges and sometimes even locked up for using public restrooms. There is also homophobic and transphobic discrimination in America’s immigration system, leading LGBT immigrants to be disproportionately sent to immigration detention centers, which MTC profits from.

Once locked in prison or an immigration detention center, LGBT inmates face horrific abuses. A 2007 study found that “[s]exual assault is 13 times more prevalent among transgender inmates, with 59 percent reporting being sexually assaulted.” The same study found that 67% of LGBT inmates reported being sexually assaulted. That’s 15 times the rate for their straight and cisgender counterparts.

Transgender inmates are also often placed in solitary confinement due to their gender identity. Voices across the political spectrum recognize solitary confinement as a form of torture. Yes, Jane Marquardt, a leading Democrat and “LGBT rights activist,” profits from the torture of transgender people.

There have also been abuses unique to facilities Marquardt’s company operated. An investigative report by PBS’s FRONTLINE found that MTC’s Willacy Detention Center was a site of rampant sexual abuse, and that guards were covering it up. When activists from the Prison Divestment Campaign told Jane Marquardt in a cordial meeting that this had happened in her facilities, she looked shocked and said “That would be terrible if that were happening in our facilities!” When we told her it was and handed her a copy of FRONTLINE’s report, she changed the subject.

MTC has not just been corrupt in their operation of prisons, but in their political donations. They donate money to politicians whom they expect will open new for-profit prisons. Furthermore, they donated to supporters of Arizona’s infamous anti-immigrant bill SB 1070, which would send new unwilling immigrant customers to their cages.

When activists called out Marquardt for profiting from human rights abuses, Democrats were appalled not at Jane’s profiteering, but that anyone would be so rude as to shout about it. Yet the Democratic Party claims to stand for immigrants, the poor, people of color, and the LGBT community, all of which are groups that Jane Marquardt’s company cages and abuses for profit.

People who care about equality and human rights should see this as a wake up call. They should abandon the Democratic Party, and instead resist the corrupt system that enables Jane Marquardt to profit by caging human beings.

Nathan Goodman is a writer and activist living in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has been involved in LGBT, feminist, anti-war, and prisonersolidarity organizing. In addition to writing at the Center for a Stateless Society, he blogs at Dissenting Leftist. He is a member of the Prison Divestment Project.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Geoffrey McDonald
Obama’s Overtime Tweak: What is the Fair Price of a Missed Life?
Brian Cloughley
Hypocrisy, Obama-Style
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland
Tom Clifford
Guns of August: the Gulf War Revisited
Renee Lovelace
I Dream of Ghana
Colin Todhunter
GMOs: Where Does Science Begin and Lobbying End?
Ben Debney
Modern Newspeak Dictionary, pt. II
Christopher Brauchli
Guns Don’t Kill People, Immigrants Do and Other Congressional Words of Wisdom
S. Mubashir Noor
India’s UNSC Endgame
Norman Ball
Ten Questions for Lee Drutman: Author of “The Business of America is Lobbying”
Masturah Alatas
Six Critics in Search of an Author
Mark Hand
Cinéma Engagé: Filmmaker Chronicles Texas Fracking Wars
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Patrick Hiller
The Icebreaker and #ShellNo: How Activists Determine the Course
Charles Larson
Tango Bends Its Gender: Carolina De Robertis’s “The Gods of Tango”
July 30, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
How One Safari Nut, the CIA and Neoliberal Environmentalists Plotted to Destroy Mozambique
Bill Blunden
The NSA’s 9/11 Cover-Up: General Hayden Told a Lie, and It’s a Whopper