Corporatism, Privatization, Republican-Fail, Rick Snyder — April 11, 2018 at 12:36 pm

Privatized prison services in Michigan finally declared an utter failure after four years of indisputable proof


First we had this:

Then we had this:

And throughout it all we had food service employees having sex with inmates, rotten, rodent-chewed food being served to prison inmates, and drugs being smuggled into prisons by prison employees. Since 2014, I have written roughly 30 posts about the privatization of prison food services in Michigan and they all tell the same story:

Privatizing essential state services is a terrible, terrible idea.

Finally, after four long years of the obviousness of this concept staring us in the face, the state of Michigan is finally abandoning this failed experiment in handing over our prison kitchens and mess halls to private, for-profit corporations to get rich on. The experiment was supposed to prove that the state could save $16 million a year while improving services. What it really showed (which was not only predictable but actually PREDICTED) is that these for-profit corporations would cut corners and try to deliver services on the cheap so they could put more tax dollars in their pockets. And the people who paid the price for this failure are people with the least amount of political capital in the country: prisoners. Sadly, even “good” liberals often find it hard to feel sorry for prisoners. And when one prisoner sued after being served food unfit for consumption, the judge dismissed his complaint saying, “the food need not be tasty or aesthetically pleasing, so long as it suffices to allow the prisoner to maintain normal health.”

But that’s in our sad history now, part of Republican governor Rick Snyder’s embarrassing legacy:

A state House budget panel Tuesday unanimously approved Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to end controversial privatized food service in Michigan prisons, meaning the proposal to rehire state workers for kitchen jobs cleared an early hurdle. […]

Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature voted to privatize prison food service in 2012, a move that was projected to save the state $16 million a year as contract workers replaced more than 370 state employees.

Snyder announced plans to end the outsourcing in February after two vendor contracts were marred by food quality complaints, instances of maggot infestation and inappropriate contact between kitchen employees and prisoners, including sexual activity.

“We haven’t experienced the overall costs savings that we desired,” said Rep. Dave Pagel, R-Berrien Springs, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Corrections. “It’s something we gave a fair shot to. We tried, and it just hasn’t seemed to work.”

“Just hasn’t seemed to work” is comical understatement. Here are some of the headlines I’ve written since the summer of 2014:

Yeah, that “just hasn’t seemed to work”, alright.

Let this be a lesson to us on the folly of privatizing government services. It won’t be, but it should.