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:
- For-profit prison food vendor routinely runs out of food in Michigan prisons
- For-profit prison food vendor: “You want fries… errr… maggots with that?”
- Oh, look. More maggots found in prison food supplied by for-profit vendor Aramark
- In response to yet another scandal from for-profit prison food vendor, Gov. Snyder issues a strongly-worded sentence
- After repeated scandals, prison food vendor Aramark receives slap on the wrist, keeps its state contract
- SCANDAL: Snyder administration quietly canceled $98K fine for for-profit prison food vendor Aramark, then things got much worse
- PRIVATIZATION FAIL: Aramark employee arrested for bringing drugs – LOTS of drugs – to Michigan prisoners
- Aramark prison employee investigated for arranging murder-for-hire at Michigan prison, school pays price for hiring them
- Aramark overseer: Sex with inmates, drug smuggling, maggots in food areas were due to understaffing
- More scandal with for-profit prison food vendor Aramark, served raw meat to inmates
- Nothing to see here, just another Aramark employee busted smuggling drugs to prisoners
- For-profit prison food vendor Aramark served Michigan inmates rodent-chewed food
- Employees of for-profit prison food vendor Aramark served food that had been in the trash
- Despite Aramark privatized prison food scandal, Snyder administration doubles down on privatizing prison services
- Oh, Aramark, why can’t we quit you? More maggots found in prison food.
- Privatized prison food vendor employee caught having sex with an inmate. Again. And serving rotting food. Again.
- Oh, look. More maggots found in prisons with privatized, for-profit food service vendor
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.