Corporatism, Rick Snyder — July 3, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Oh, look. More maggots found in prison food supplied by for-profit vendor Aramark


This is getting ridiculous

First we had dozens of employees from for-profit prison food vendor Aramark banned from prisons for inappropriate contact (sex) with prisoners, smuggling things and selling drugs to inmates, and other infractions. Then Aramark was cited for running out of food before all prisoners were fed. Then dozens of prisoners got sick with what looks like food poisoning the same week maggots were found in the food serving area. (Aramark claims the two problems were unrelated suggesting they have two different issues there.)

[UPDATE: There are now around 150 inmates sick at the Parnall Correctional Facility and the prison is under a partial quarantine.]

Now we learn that more maggots have been found at another prison facility where Aramark has the business:

For the second time in less than a week, maggots are causing upheaval at a Michigan prison, this time after they were found Tuesday in food at the Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson.

Warden Heidi Washington ordered Aramark Correctional Services to throw out all potatoes stored in the prison kitchen at Egeler after officials who work for the department alerted her to the discovery of maggots in the food, department spokesman Russ Marlan confirmed today.

“She immediately went to the kitchen area and observed the maggots in the potatoes,” Marlan said. “She ordered all of the potatoes thrown out (and) the entire kitchen cleaned with bleach. Aramark management was immediately made aware of the situation.” […]

Egeler is where prisoners are sent when they are first admitted to state prison. They sometimes stay for a few weeks before they are transfered to other prisons around the state.

Fortunately, Gov. Snyder thinks this is “inappropriate”. I mean that’s a big relief, right?

But he still doesn’t think that it was a bad idea to hire a for-profit company to feed inmates:

Snyder said it would be unfair to suggest that privatization does not work in a prison setting because of problems with one particular contractor, noting he does not use the term “privatization” himself.

“I view it as competitive bidding, so we should be looking at internal and external alternatives,” he said. “On food service, that was one area it looked like it would be appropriate in. We’re not talking about the actual corrections officer situation.”

Nothing could possibly go wrong in a prison when a vendor’s profit margin is on the line, right? The needs and rights of the inmates will ALWAYS triumph over making a healthy profit, right?

Apparently not.

Democratic candidate for governor Mark Schauer (along with many, many others) is calling for Gov. Snyder to fire Aramark:

Governor Snyder’s decision to outsource prison food service has proven to be a serious mistake that is wasting millions of taxpayer dollars and putting the lives of our corrections officers at risk. Aramark’s employees have repeatedly violated the terms of their contract, and their drunken and drug-dealing activities at Michigan prisons pose a very serious risk to public safety. The governor should terminate Aramark’s contract immediately to protect taxpayers and public safety.

An official for union whose members include the state employees who used to provide food services to prisons and who were fired in favor of the for-profit corporation Aramark is worried the food issue is going to get dangerous:

Mel Grieshaber, executive director of the Michigan Corrections Organization, the union representing corrections officers, said it’s time for the state to end the contract and send state employees back into the prison kitchens. Lack of Aramark staff numbers and training has resulted in corrections officers having to spend more time in the chow halls keeping order, he said.

“I can understand four or five weeks getting acclimated, but it’s six months and it’s still going on,” Grieshaber said.

“They need to can them — get rid of them.”

He cited a recent e-mail he received from a senior corrections officer who said: “I have served 21 years as a corrections officer and I will tell you I have never seen this kind of unrest from the prison population over food.”

Howzabout some relentless positive action here, Governor? How much longer does this have to go on?

At least all of this egregious stuff is coming out BEFORE the election. It was bound to happen eventually but better now than later so that Michigan voters can decide if privatizing every state service that isn’t nailed down is actually a good idea that saves the state money. I’m willing to bet that one class action lawsuit from prisoners over any of this will cost the state more than they ever saved by going to a for-profit vendor.

It’s yet another failed experiment by Republican Rick Snyder.