Taxpayers spend $83.4 million a year feeding Michigan’s 51,000 prison inmates, and could save nearly half that amount by hiring a private food service company, says a state audit reported by the Detroit News. The State Auditor General’s office says, even more money could be saved by cutting back on fresh produce and milk, trimming overall calories, and preventing convicts from stealing additional meals. The review found that it costs nearly $5 per day to feed each inmate: $2.48 in food, plus $2.50 to pay the state employees who supervise food service.
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard is among those pressuring Gov. Jennifer Granholm and state lawmakers to trim prison spending so other state programs — such as higher education and revenue sharing with local governments — will stop being shortchanged. Prisons eat up one-fifth of the state’s general fund spending: $2 billion a year. Russ Marlan, corrections department spokesman, believes $2.48 per day for inmate food is a bargain. “I know some people think inmates should get bread and water and live in tents with dirt floors,” he said. “But I know I couldn’t feed myself for $2.48 a day.”