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Controversial Ex-Prison Official Lane McCotter Appointed Utah J.P.

Lane McCotter, once the director of the Utah Department of Corrections, has been appointed to a justice of the peace bench in Utah. The McCotter era remains a high-point of prison violence in Utah's history cumulating in the death of a prisoner who had spent 16 hours strapped naked to a restraining chair in 1997. Forced out of office two months after the restraining chair incident, McCotter became a prison consultant and an executive for Management Training Corporation, a Utah-based private prison company. Meanwhile, Utah ceased using restraint chairs in its prisons and settled the civil rights lawsuits against McCotter and the prison system for $200,000.

McCotter started his first job as prison system director in the Texas prison system in 1985. By 1987, he was forced out of that position by allegations that he intentionally erased portions of a videotape showing the beating of a handcuffed, shackled prisoner. McCotter claimed the erasure was an accident. From there, McCotter went to work as director of the New Mexico prison system, where he stayed until 1991. In 1992, he took over as head of the Utah prison system.

McCotter was hired by the federal government in 2003. He and three other prison contractors were charged with the responsibility for rebuilding Iraq's prison system, including Abu Ghraib. McCotter personally directed the rebuilding of Abu Ghraib, along with Gary DeLand, another controversial former director of the Utah prison system. [PLN, Sept. 2004, p. 1]. They described Abu Ghraib as the only place we agreed as a team was truly closest to an American prison." Those reconstructed" Iraqi prisons became the scenes of inhumane, torturous treatment and rape of prisoners by U.S. military personnel and private information extraction" contractors. [PLN, Nov. 2004, p. 36]. Perhaps they were very close to American prisons in more ways than just architecture.

On March 16, 2005, the Wasatch County Council appointed McCotter to the post of justice of the peace on the recommendation of County Manager Mike Davis. Jay F. Price, Chairman of the Council, noted that the Council was aware of civil rights allegations" against McCotter, but ignored them.
I don't place much value in allegations," said Price.

Apparently allegations that form the basis for a civil rights lawsuit that the state settles are also not credible enough for Price.
McCotter assumed the bench formerly occupied by Michael Anthony Spanos on June 1, 2005, after completing a four-day justice of the peace qualifications course. One can only hope that he will be better at dispensing justice than he was at administering prisons.

Source: Salt Lake Tribune.

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