Source: Grand Haven Tribune, August 25, 2014
Gov. Rick Snyder recently announced that his office would soon be monitoring the $145 million contract with Aramark Correctional Services that, up until that point, was under the watchful eye of the Michigan Department of Corrections — sort of. … As taxpayers who pay for the contract with Aramark, we have the right to know how that contract is being serviced, and that only those services within the contract are being rendered. Obviously, that hasn’t been the case. The state has fined Aramark nearly $300,000, or 0.002 percent of the $145 million the contract is worth, but there are no plans to cancel the pact. Most would agree that fine isn’t very impactful. …
EDITORIAL: Outsourcing isn’t the problem
Source: Detroit News, August 16, 2014
In response to the problems with Michigan’s privatized prison food service company, Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services, Gov. Rick Snyder has fined the firm $200,000 …. Yet it was not a mistake to privatize the food service. The state is saving $14 million a year by outsourcing it. Reverting to the old system of state employed staff members is not the answer. Getting Aramark to clean up its act or replacing it with another food vender is a better option.
Michigan fines prison food vendor $200,000
Source: David Eggert, Associated Press, August 8, 2014
Michigan officials imposed a $200,000 fine Friday against the food vendor for the state’s prison system, citing unapproved menu substitutions, inadequate staffing and employee misconduct. The state Corrections Department stopped short of ending its contract with Aramark Correctional Services, which it absolved of blame for maggots found recently in a Jackson prison’s food service area.
Aramark to learn fate of prison food contract in two weeks
Source: Paul Egan, Gannett Michigan, August 3, 2014
News Michigan’s beleaguered prison food contractor should find out in the next two weeks whether it faces further financial penalties or even dismissal after its first eight months were marred by food shortages, kitchen maggots and high turnover as employees were caught smuggling contraband and engaging in sex acts with inmates. Many Democrats and a few Republican lawmakers are urging Gov. Rick Snyder to terminate Aramark Correctional Service’s contract and return state employees to the kitchens, saying safety and security must take precedence over estimated contract savings of about $16 million a year. Smuggling and fraternization potentially endanger prison staff, and problems with food quantity and quality — including maggots found around food in at least two Michigan prisons — have raised inmate tension levels. …
Why did Aramark get the prison food contract? Here’s some insight
Source: Steve Miller, MLive.com, July 23, 2014
Why did Aramark Correctional Services, now under fire for alleged infractions in its food
service contract with the state prison system, win a bid over its competitors? It came down to a single point on the state’s contract-award rating system, records show, allowing Aramark to get the contract over the other finalist, Florida-based Trinity Services Group. That single point eventually grew to four points after further consideration by a four-person panel charged with awarding the deal.
Even in its application for the contract, Aramark had problems…. Curiously, the state almost shelved the idea of privatizing food service for the state’s prisons when it determined that its savings would not be enough to justify it. At the last minute, though, several Republican lawmakers insisted that the deal be made. While it screams of money being exchanged, a search of campaign contributions finds nothing remarkable coming from the Aramark PAC going into the campaign coffers of its statehouse advocates. … In one email, Kevin Weissenborn, the Michigan Department of Corrections manager in charge of policing the Aramark contract, told a colleague in March that Aramark “claims we are not being a good partner, which only leaves me to wonder about their definition of a partnership.” It would have been nice to see just what Aramark officials involved with the contract were saying to each other, but its $145 million contract with the state protects Aramark from FOIA requests, directly stating that “[Aramark] is not required to respond to any state or federal FOIA requests by third parties” – meaning the public that is spending the $145 million…
Aramark prison workers caught in sexual romp with inmates, fired
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, July 16, 2014
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 with inmates inside a walk-in cooler, a Corrections Department official confirmed…. The firings came after officials reviewed recent surveillance video, Marlan said. Two of the kitchen workers were at work today and were escorted out. Two others were fired and not allowed into the prison when they showed up for work, he said. The firings also mean more than 80 Aramark workers have now been banned from prison property for various infractions since the company took over on Dec. 8, eliminating 370 state jobs…
You get what you pay when hiring private company for Michigan prisons: embarrassing failures
Source: Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Radio, July 14, 2014
…The problem is this: Inmates of state prisons are different from other people. They are, by definition, criminals, often wily ones, adept at beating the system. They need expert handling. Private companies save money by hiring workers at very low salaries. You get what you pay for. State Senator Bert Johnson turns out to have been a prophet here; last year he warned against privatizing prison food services, as weakening “the care and monitoring of Michigan’s incarcerated.” If anyone should know, it’s him. He did time as a young man before turning his life around. The senator openly admits he once made a bad mistake. On this issue, it would be nice to see the state admit it made one too. …
Senate majority leader says Michigan should rebid Aramark prison contract
Source: Paul Egan and Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, July 10, 2014
Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said Thursday the state should rebid its contract for prison food services, given ongoing problems with the existing contractor, as unions stepped up pressure on Gov. Rick Snyder to return the work to state government employees. “I’d put it back up for bid,” Richardville, R-Monroe, said of the seven-month-old contract with Aramark Correctional Services of Philadelphia, during a taping of the public affairs program “Off the Record” on WKAR-TV. ….
More calls for state to end food service contract with Aramark in Michigan prisons
Source: WTVB, July 11, 2014
Leaders from the union representing the state employees who used to run food services in Michigan’s prison system and the corrections officers union again called for the Governor to end the contract with the company that took over the program. Nick Ciaramitaro, the legislative director of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 25, warned the Governor that “he is playing with dynamite” if he does not nix the Aramark deal. He contends the problems will continue to mount unless the jobs “are brought back in house.” The MIRS News Service reports that Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville Thursday told the television program Off the Record the state “definitely needs to revisit the contract,” although he stopped short of calling for termination. If that does happen Richardville said he thinks the contract should be re-bid. Addressing the contract is “a top priority,” as he concluded, “there is no way that this should be happening.” …
Governor Snyder Considering Terminating Aramark Contract For MI Prisons
Source: Tim Skubick, WLNS, July 9, 2014
The Snyder administration has not made a final decision, but there are indications that the governor is considering terminating a food service contract in the state prison system. 6 News Capitol Correspondent Tim Skubick has an update on this continuing story. The governor is not happy with the Aramark Company and its handling of food services behind prison walls. … So is the governor thinking about terminating the contract? He did not say yes, but he clearly did not say no….The legislature, not the governor decided to fire 370 state employees who did the food services prior to the private company coming in. The state prison director even told lawmakers not to do it….
Inmates sick after maggots found on serving line at prison
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, July 1, 2014
About 30 prisoners at a Michigan correctional facility are being treated for symptoms consistent with food poisoning after maggots and fly larvae were discovered in one of the meal serving lines, an official confirmed Monday. But a spokeswoman for Aramark Correctional Services, Michigan’s prison food contractor, said there is no evidence linking the discovery of the maggots to the outbreak of illness….
Maggots, Fly Larvae Found in Jackson Prison
Source: Lorne Fultonberg, WILX, June 30, 2014
Approximately 30 inmates from the Parnall Correctional Facility in Jackson are suffering from a gastrointestinal illness, which could be related to maggots and fly larvae found in a food line, said Russ Marlan, spokesman for the Department of Corrections. The prison discovered fly larvae and maggots Friday night about two inches from where the serving trays sat, Marlan said. The next day, dozens of inmates were complaining of vomiting, upset stomachs and diarrhea. The food and dining facilities are managed by Aramark which took over the food service contract in December, eliminating 370 jobs in the process. Since December, Aramark has fired an employee for being drunk on the job and another was caught smuggling marijuana into the prison….
Private Contractor For Michigan Prisons Repeatedly Failed To Give Inmates Enough Food
Source: Alan Pyke, ThinkProgress, June 30, 2014
Less than a year after Michigan shifted responsibility for feeding its prisoners to a private contract with international food services conglomerate Aramark, the state Department of Corrections (DOC) is warning the company that it may yank the contract if chronic food shortages and security violations don’t cease….
Aramark prison food supervisor fired for being drunk on job
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, May 12, 2014
The top Aramark Correctional Services official at Parnell Correctional Facility in Jackson was fired last week for being drunk on the job, a Corrections Department spokesman confirmed Monday. Aramark’s food service director at Parnell was given a Breathalyzer test by Aramark last Tuesday after officials received an anonymous tip, Russ Marlan told the Free Press. When she failed the test, the woman was fired and banned from the state prison system, he said. Marlan said there have been 58 Aramark employees fired and banned from the state prison system in the five months since the state privatized prison food service in December with a three-year, $145-million contract….
Michigan prison food vendor survives union challenge in 2-2 vote
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, May 7, 2014
Michigan’s Civil Service Commission deadlocked 2-2 on a union challenge to the state’s privatization of its prison food service, meaning a three-year, $145-million contract with Aramark Correctional Services of Philadelphia will remain in place. It’s likely the fight over the contract will now move to the state courts, a union spokesman said. In an opinion released Wednesday, http://www.freep.com/assets/freep/pdf/C422124257.PDF Commission Chairman Thomas (Mac) Wardrop and Commissioner James Barrett rejected the appeal by Michigan AFSCME Council 25 and the Michigan Association of Governmental Employees. Commissioners Charles Blockett Jr. and Robert Swanson wanted to grant the appeal and turn the issue over to the state Employment Relations Board for further proceedings. ….
Michigan unions cite safety as lawmakers consider more privatization
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, May 7, 2014
Unions representing state employees asked the Michigan Civil Service Commission today to consider not just price, but quality, when approving deals to lay off state employees and privatize government services. The commission took no action after state officials testified that quality assurances are built into privatization contracts….
Safety, Quality of Privatized Services Remain Top Concerns for State Union Employees
Source: Josh Sidorowicz, WILX, May 7, 2014
Unions representing state employees urged the Michigan Civil Service Commission Wednesday to consider quality, not just the bottom line, when looking to privatize government state services. During public remarks at a commission meeting Wednesday morning, several unions representing state employees testified about the need for more quality assurance and transparency when it comes to privatization contracts. Mel Grieshaber, the executive director of the Michigan Department of Corrections cited the Aramark food service contract, that privatized the state’s food service for inmates, as one of the most recent examples of outsourcing that has sacrificed quality and safety to save money….
Michigan prison food employees violate policies more often than other workers, department says
Source: Brian Smith, mlive.com, April 15, 2014
Employees of the private contractor in charge of food service in Michigan’s prisons are violating corrections department policy more often than other prison workers. The Michigan Department of Corrections has issued 51 “stop orders” banning Aramark workers from the state’s correctional facilities for a number of issues, department spokesman Russ Marlan said….Marlan said that the number of orders issued ejecting Aramark employees from working in Michigan prisons since the contract began is abnormal….
Food worker accused of trying to smuggle marijuana into Jackson prison
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, March 20, 2014
An Aramark Correctional Services worker is accused of trying to smuggle bags of marijuana into a state prison in Jackson in the latest in a series of problems since the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder opted to eliminate 370 state jobs and pay a contractor to provide prison meals, starting last December. And while state Corrections Department officials say they aren’t ready to pull the plug on the $145-million, three-year deal yet, they said in a Feb. 27 letter to Aramark they have “grounds for insecurity” and expect a swift turnaround….
Union decries mistakes by company hired to feed prisoners
Source: Tim Skubick, MLive.com, March 16, 2014
The state Corrections Department may not be smiling but at least some prisoners are after having inappropriate contact with employees of a private company hired to provide food services behind prison walls. A union contends that included sex while the DOC contends that is an exaggeration, although it does confirm one case of kissing. Either way 29 Aramark employees have been banned from prison work for “over familiarity” which also apparently included writing love letters to crooks and attempting to smuggle cell phones behind prison walls. … The state corrections officer union and AFSCME were at the front of the line warning this company had it’s own “rap sheet.” The Associated Press reports that in Kentucky, Ohio and Florida, the company charged for food it never served. …. On top of all the food problems at the Huron Valley facility for women, the new hires were given eight hours of computer training, according to the MIRS News Service, which reviewed 500 pages of state inspections. The report says they were then placed on the job “and knew nothing about policy, procedure and work rules…This lack of training is unacceptable, dangerous and creates safety and security issues,” the state concluded. ….
Michigan fines Aramark $98,000 for prison food rule violations
Source: Darren A. Nichols, Detroit News, March 11, 2014
A food service provider, already under fire for its handling of food and dealing with inmates, has been fined $98,000 for violating its contract, according to two state Department of Corrections letters released Tuesday. Aramark Corp., which took over Michigan prison food service operations late last year that eliminated union jobs, was fined after not getting approval to make meal substitutions 52 times, failing to make the appropriate number of meals 240 times and allowing 12 instances of poor staff conduct, according to two state letters addressed to the company dated March 6. During a six-week period starting Jan. 17, the company made 52 meal substitutions without appropriate authorization and another 188 substitutions were made. Aramark was charged $26,000 for 52 unauthorized meals and $60,000 for not supplying the appropriate number of meals to prisoners. The Philadelphia service giant also was penalized for 12 instances from Jan. 17 to Feb. 28 of staff violating rules over how to deal with prisoners….
Michigan prison food vendor fined $98,000 for worker fraternization, menu problems
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, March 11, 2014
The Michigan Department of Corrections has fined its new prison food vendor, Aramark Correctional Services, $98,000 for violating its contract by employing workers who fraternized with prisoners and by making unauthorized menu substitutions and not preparing the correct number of meals, the department said Tuesday….
Michigan prisoners leave cells in protest over meals, menu options
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, February 18, 2014
About 200 prisoners at Kinross Correctional Facility in Kincheloe left their cells and demonstrated Monday over their food – two months after the Department of Corrections eliminated 370 state jobs and privatized its food service. …
Michigan prisons fine private food service contractor for violations
Source: Michigan Radio, March 11, 2014
The Michigan Department of Corrections has fined Aramark, the company that handles food operations in state prisons. The MDOC notified Aramark of the fines, totaling almost $100,000, by two letters sent in the last two weeks.The MDOC said Aramark violated its contract by substituting meals, and by failing to prepare the right number of meals. The fines have been assessed for 52 unauthorized meal substitutions and 240 instances of improper meal counts….
Mich. lawmakers question if security cutbacks, food privatization played role in prison escape
Source: Associated Press, February 4, 2014
Some Michigan lawmakers are questioning whether security cutbacks and the recent privatization of prison food service factored into a killer’s escape from an Ionia prison. Democratic Sen. Glenn Anderson of Westland said Tuesday it was “foolish” for Michigan to scale back perimeter patrols and eliminate manned gun towers in recent years to save money. Officials say Michael David Elliot escaped Sunday through fences equipped with motion sensors and electric current before being captured in Indiana. Anderson says security is weaker since majority Republicans handed food service operations over to a private contractor. Elliot escaped wearing a white kitchen uniform but didn’t work in the kitchen.
Did The Privatization Of Food Service In Michigan Prisons Contribute To Prison Break?
Source: WWJ, February 4, 2014
State officials probe union complaints on prison food workers
Source: Gary Heinlein, Detroit News, January 15, 2014
State corrections officials are looking into union complaints of alleged unsafe conduct by employees of a new prison food service vendor but dispute one serious charge — that an employee of the contractor had sex with an inmate. …. Michigan Corrections Organization President Tom Tylutki said the union has “multiple examples” of improper conduct by workers of the new private contractor. …
Union says untrained Aramark workers threaten Michigan prison security
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, January 15, 2014
An employee of contractor Aramark Correctional Services has been caught having sex with an inmate and prisoners who work in kitchens are getting easier access to knives, less than six weeks after state employees were laid off and prison food services were privatized, the head of the union representing corrections officers says in a letter to the department director. …
Michigan prison food switch brings mixed reviews
Source: Paul Egan, Lansing State Journal, December 16, 2013
One week after the launch of one of state government’s largest privatization moves in decades, prison officials said a contractor is doing a good job providing meals to Michigan’s 45,000 prisoners, but union leaders said the transition has been a rocky one. … The deal, estimated to save $12 million to $16 million a year, eliminates about 370 state jobs. Some workers retired, 166 former food service workers enrolled in an eight-week corrections officer school and are expected to stay with the department, eight got monitoring jobs related to the Aramark contract and about 100 were laid off, Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said. … Union officials said Aramark has not hired all the workers it needs, hasn’t fully trained those it has and has had to bring in managers from other facilities around the country. They said they’ve heard reports of food shortages, employee turnover and contraband entering the prisons, among other issues….
Dianda wants Privatization of Prison Food Services ended
Source: ABC 10, November 15, 2013
State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) wrote an open letter today to Acting State Personnel Director Janet McClelland calling for an end to food service privatization in Michigan prisons. Dianda worked across the aisle to get the signatures of 13 other state representatives and three senators attached to the letter, which had bipartisan support. On Sept. 18, stakeholders from across the correctional services industry testified before the Michigan Civil Service Commission against administration plans to outsource prison food services. In his letter, Dianda highlighted the evidence presented. … Current in-state DOC vendors testified that outsourcing food provisions to out-of-state vendors would have devastating effects on their businesses and on Michigan’s economy as a whole, while correctional officers and managerial staff raised concerns that the proposed change would lead to violence. In addition to those concerns, legislators raised bicameral and bipartisan concerns about the manner in which the bidding process was handled. Less than 24 hours after the extensive testimony and evidence was delivered, the governor announced that he intended to expedite the outsourcing of prison food services. Along with this announcement, the governor has said he wants not only to negotiate a contract with the private food service company Aramak, but to get that contract approved, signed and implemented before Dec.1 − before the next meeting of the Civil Service Commission. …
Prison food service moves step closer to privatization
Source: Paul Egan, press-citizen.com, September 24, 2013
A state administrative committee gave approval Tuesday to a three-year, $145-million contract with a prison food contractor that is expected to eliminate about 370 state government jobs. The recommended approval from the finance and claims committee of the contract with Aramark Correctional Services of Pennsylvania is expected to go to the full State Administrative Board for approval on Monday….
State opts to privatize prison food service, saving taxpayers $12 million a year
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, April 30, 2013
In a reversal, officials said today they will privatize food service for 45,000 state prisoners by awarding a nearly $50 million yearly contract to catering giant Aramark. The move would eliminate the jobs of about 370 state workers who currently prepare and serve meals, but is estimated to save taxpayers more than $12 million a year. The state put the food service out to bid last year, but an analysis by officials from the Department of Technology, Management and Budget and the Department of Corrections concluded Aramark and a second company that bid would not save taxpayers enough money to justify privatization.
In a reversal, Michigan moves to privatize state prison food services
Source: Tim Martin, Mlive.com, April 30, 2013
… Roughly two months ago, the state had decided against privatizing prison food services, saying the contracts put out for bid didn’t achieve enough savings as required by state rules. But some Republican lawmakers raised objections about the original analysis. State officials redid the analysis and found some mistakes were made in the original review. State officials now have what they consider a more valid and accurate review and say they will go forward with a deal with Aramark….