Problems May End Michigan Private Inmate Food Service Contract


Food shortages and angry prisoners. Maggots in the kitchen and on the chow line. Workers caught smuggling contraband or engaging in sex acts with inmates. The Detroit Free Press says those are among the problems that have plagued Michigan prisons since December when the state, in a move aimed at saving more than $12 million a year, switched from using state workers to feed prisoners to a private contractor, Aramark Correctional Services of Philadelphia.

Turmoil with the contract is detailed in 3,000 pages of state records obtained by the Free Press under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act: An Aramark director showed up drunk and failed a Breathalyzer. Another worker was caught trying to smuggle marijuana. Others have failed drug tests, kissed prisoners, threatened to assault inmates, or announced intentions to “go postal” inside a facility. “I'm at my wit's end,” Kevin Weissenborn, the state manager in charge of policing the Aramark contract, e-mailed a warden. Gov. Rick Snyder is now considering scrapping the $145-million, three-year contract before the summer heat intensifies unhappiness over prison food and possibly threatens security and safety.

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