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.

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  • Don Handy

    I believe Der Snyde is counting on most voters not caring about prisoners. Hopefully Michiganers are not so morally bankrupt as that.

  • Patti

    Snyder is a terrible governor and it is now clear he’s a terrible CEO too. No company would accept this many failures from its incompetent employees. No wonder he drove Gateway into the ground – just like he’s pushing Michigan’s economy into recession. Snyder needs to quit appeasing the 1% and restore these jobs to the people who know how to do them – State of Michigan employees.

    • judyms9

      Just got an email from Snyder’s office touting Michigan’s economy as the best in the nation with 75K jobs just waiting for people’s skills to catch up with them. Some kind of Svengali stuff going on with the gov, as he hopes to hypnotize us into accepting his repeating baloney.

  • TeacherPattiS

    Here, I’ll help with the “set of mutually agreed performance
    metrics to be used to objectively measure Aramark’s performance on a
    monthly basis”:

    1) Don’t have maggots in the food
    2) Don’t have sex with the inmates
    3) Don’t do drugs

    Jesus Christ people, if they can’t handle those relatively simple things, I can’t see them being able to handle any *really* complicated “metrics” like, say, providing balanced meals or something crazy like that.

  • Sharon Douglas

    I’m disturbed by the letter of the mother of an inmate and what he was served. There are Policy Directives that prisons have to follow to a T. And there are PD’s prisons have to follow regarding inmates meals. And they were developed to deter future riots and deaths in prisons over inmates food. Male inmates are to get a specific amount/weight of specific foods like protein would be at least 8 0z. Women inmates got less, which I always thought that was bullshit as we had ALOT of women inmates that were Shaq size and never got enough to eat in the chow hall. But the policies are very precise. And the inmates would make darn sure they got their allotted share even if they weren’t going to eat it. (principle) They could get a little more, but never less that policy directed. 1 hot dog does not meet PD standards. That is the way it was when I retired in ’07, and Food Service had not been privatized. We fought that tooth and nail and see we lost. But the policy should have remained the same. I believe that family could get a copy of the Policy as that one would not be ‘exempt’ like the Use of Force Policy is. The inmate should have access to that policy as well. And you should know that if inmates start suing over their meals, which they will and should, we the taxpayer will pay the price, NOT Aramark. These private companies usually have that in their contract, that even if they are the cause of any harm that causes any riots, death, destruction of state property, the state taxpayers will have to pay restitution, not the private for profit corporation. That’s why they do not care or concern themselves if they piss off and agitate the inmates. The Corrections Officer has to protect them from the inmates and quell any fights or riots they instigated. And when a state employee is caught having sex with an inmate, they are charged with rape as there is no such thing as ‘consent’ in a prison environment. And if they were caught bringing in drugs they got slammed with drug and smuggling offenses. They are held to a much higher standard than these non-state employees who are not held accountable for crap. Never understood that double standard.

    • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

      Thanks for this. VERY informative.

  • http://ramonasvoices.blogspot.com/ Ramona

    The one place where the government should be directly involved is in the prison system. They make the incarceration laws and they are responsible for the prisoner from the moment the cell door is locked behind them. Privatizing prisons has always been a stupid idea. The necessary oversight is given over to profiteers who will always be looking for ways to cut corners. It’s the nature of the capitalistic beast.

    Serving too-small quantities of something resembling food isn’t part of their punishment, and having sex with inmates isn’t part of anyone’s recreation. Those private keepers are scum and they need to be, well, incarcerated.

    One little nitpicky: It’s “personnel”, not “personal”. (Sorry. . .)

    • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

      Great comment. I’ve corrected the typo which I managed to duplicate by cutting and pasting : /

  • Carolyn 4444

    I think it’s probably a matter of chasing down whose wife’s brother’s cousin-in-law stands to gain financially from association with this obviously poor excuse for a business! As always…follow the money!!!

  • bryan

    What the hell is this about “mutually agreed” performance metrics?

    If these were state workers, the performance metrics would be handed down and there would be no negotiation leading to “mutually agreed” metrics. That, after all, would amount to something like “collective bargaining”, and God knows this legislature and Governor don’t believe in that.

    “Mutually agreed”, my okole! Tell Aramark to shape up or get the hell out!

    You know… the way a CEO would.

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