Michigan hired an outside contractor to run its prison kitchens and next may privatize an entire corrections facility in an accelerating drive to control the state’s $2 billion prison budget, reports the Detroit News. The corrections system is being reworked as Gov. Rick Snyder tries to stretch state budget dollars and the Republican-controlled Legislature argues taking bids and contracting out prison services to private firms results in lower costs and better performance.
Democrats are powerless to stop prison privatization but contend it's risky and may end up costing the state in unintended ways. “Putting people out of work is never a winning strategy,” said Sen. Bert Johnson. “There's a negative impact on local economies when people lose their jobs.” The impending takeover of prison food services by Aramark Corp. puts 300-400 state workers on the bubble. The new contractor may hire up to half of them. Philadelphia-based Aramark won a three-year state contract by bidding $64 million to provide daily meals for the state's 43,300 prisoners.