Corporatism, Rick Snyder — August 8, 2014 at 3:30 pm

After repeated scandals, prison food vendor Aramark receives slap on the wrist, keeps its state contract


First, let’s recap where we are regarding private for-profit prison food vendor Aramark:

Sex scandals. Passing drugs to inmates. Running out of prison food. Maggots in prison food. MORE maggots in prison food. And now more sex scandals. All of this from one for-profit vendor for food in Michigan prisons: Aramark. In all, over 80 of their employees have been banned from Michigan prisons because of inappropriate conduct.

Here’s the latest:

In a development a Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman said was “unprecedented,” four Aramark prison workers at Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia were fired today for having inappropriate sexual contact withinmates inside a walk-in cooler…

Governor Snyder has now moved beyond a “strongly worded sentence” to issue a firm but gentle slap on the wrist:

The state will fine Aramark an additional $200,000 and demand changes in its prison food service, Gov. Rick Snyder’s office announced Friday.

Aramark officials have yet to respond to this devastating wrist slapping. Perhaps they have iced their hand. Perhaps strong measures like wrapping it tenderly in gauze were taken. I’ll report back when we learn if they are expected to recover from the terrible blow to their wrist.

Gov. Snyder also said the state will “work with Aramark to establish a set of mutually agreed performance metrics to be used to objectively measure Aramark’s performance on a monthly basis”.

That should work ever so well because the incarceration of prisoners is EXACTLY like running a business where “performance metrics” designed to “objectively measure performance” are the key to turning things around.

I have some metrics for Gov. Snyder to consider:

  • Are Aramark personnel selling drugs to inmates? Score “1” for no, “0” for yes.
  • Are Aramark personnel having sex with inmates? Score “1” for no, “0” for yes.
  • Are there maggots in the food areas Aramark is responsible for? Score “1” for no, “0” for yes.
  • Is there enough food to actually feed the prisoners? Score “1” for no, “0” for yes.

Those are just a few things to consider to get you started. You’re welcome.

On a serious note, Gov. Snyder is a complete hypocrite in this situation. His modus operandi from the start has been to run the state like a business using his mad CEO skills to provide “leadership”. But the fact of the matter is no CEO with any sort of actual talent would keep a vendor that performed this abysmally. Nearly a fifth of their prison employees have been banned from Michigan prisons and the threat of a lawsuit is a real one given the unsanitary conditions in their kitchens and the fact that they have run out of food on some occasions. The $12-16 million that we are supposedly saving by eliminating 370 state employees and replacing them with the sort of people Aramark hires would be eaten up quickly if a class action lawsuit were fought to a successful conclusion for the plaintiffs.

This comment was left on Eclectablog recently from the mother of an inmate in the Saginaw Correction Facility:

To Whom it may concern,
Yesterday at the SCF, inmates were served a hot dog, two celery sticks, and two carrot sticks. I say sticks because it was not the whole stalk. There was no milk, no beans, rice, nothing. That is it. My son is an inmate there. He is 20 years old and has lost 10 lbs in the last 20 months. He is six foot and now weighs 142 lbs. He is hungry every day.

This is an outrage. I visit at least once a week, so I can feed him the stuff that passes for food in the vending machines. What is going on? I know they are trying to save money but at what cost?

I received a call from him yesterday, they had been on a two hour lock down. They have community bathrooms. So they had NO access to
bathrooms. Of course they are not given any warning or explanation when they have a lock down. So if you have to go, you just have to wait.
Really, that is unbelievable. What is going on?

Any CEO in his or her right mind would have jetisoned Aramark long before now.

But Governor Snyder can’t do that, of course. That would be an admission that his answer to every budget problem our state faces — privatization to for-profit corporations — is the failure that many of us predicted it would be.

And it’s not like we were some sort of miraculous predictors of the future. It’s pretty straight forward and logical that when you put profit on the line, corners will be cut to increase profits. Since prisoners are one of the most powerless constituencies in our country, their welfare, health, and safety are the “corners”.

This is a shameful and outrageous situation. Gov. Snyder should immediately fire Aramark and return food services to state employees. The relatively small amount of money that the move to Aramark represents isn’t worth the price our state is paying.

Fire Aramark, Gov. Snyder. Be a strong CEO. As you said in your stupid reelection campaign video, it’s a dirty nerdy job but someone’s gotta do it.

That someone is YOU.