Michigan’s Failed Effort to Privatize Prison Kitchens and the Future of Institutional Food

Source: Tom Perkins, Civil Eats, August 20, 2018
The stated purpose of Michigan’s privatization plan was to save the state money on operating costs—replacing union workers earning $15-$25 per hour with low-wage Aramark workers earning $11-$13. But critics point out that disabling the union positions in prison kitchens served as an added benefit. In 2013, the MDOC signed a three-year, $145 million contract with Aramark despite the fact that a union—the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 25—offered to match that price. The union-busting point was driven home in 2015, when the department dumped Aramark and switched to Tampa-based Trinity Food Services, with which it signed a three-year, $158 million contract—a more expensive contract than what AFSCME had offered. …


Despite problems, Michigan is hiring Trinity employees to work in its prison kitchens
Source: Tom Perkins, Detroit Metro Times, June 19, 2018

For several years, private food service employees in Michigan’s prison kitchens have been a consistent problem. … Despite that, the Michigan Department of Corrections is now hiring some of Trinity’s employees, and they will be unionized state workers within the next several months. … The employees will be a part of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union. Nick Ciaramitaro, legislative director for AFSCME Council 25, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. …

Michigan’s $56.8B budget tackles prisons, potholes and pot
Source: Emily Lawler, MLive, June 12, 2018

The House and Senate on Tuesday voted to approve a $56.8 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2019, putting more money toward things like roads and regulating medical marijuana facilities while saving $19.2 million by closing a prison. … In his budget proposal earlier this year, Snyder moved to get rid of the contractor altogether and go back to state workers. The legislature followed suit, putting an extra $13.2 million into food services and authorized 352 new full-time equivalent employee positions.    Overall the Department of Corrections gets $2 billion in the budget. …

Prison guards: Michigan is deliberately hiding extent of prison kitchen horror show
Source: Tom Perkins, Detroit Metro Times, May 23, 2018

Since Michigan privatized its prison kitchens in 2014, problems with Trinity and Aramark’s employees have been well documented. But of all the issues, one that corrections officers say hasn’t received much attention is also perhaps the most dangerous — gangs are trying to exploit Trinity’s weaknesses to exert control over the food supply. … Officers say the kitchens are vulnerable because Trinity is understaffing them, undertraining employees, and underpaying employees. They allege that the Tampa-based company has unwittingly hired gang members along with inmates’ family members and ex inmates. But Trinity’s problems extend well beyond gangs. Documents show some Trinity employees have supplied drugs to inmates, or taken drugs or drank on the job. Trinity employees have had sexual contact with inmates so many times that one officer tells us, “We can tell which new [Trinity] employees will walk out of the prison with a boyfriend.” …

Problem-plagued prison food contractor gets extra $35M from Michigan
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, May 15, 2018

Michigan’s problem-plagued prison food contractor will receive a check for $35 million as its workers leave the chow halls to make way for the return of state employees, records show. The state and Trinity Services Group are parting ways on July 31 as the state ends a nearly five-year privatization experiment with Trinity and its predecessor, Aramark Correctional Services. Both contracts were marked by problems with inadequate staffing, maggots and other sanitation issues, smuggling of drugs and other contraband, and sex acts between food workers and prisoners. Under a new contract proposed for 2019, Trinity will be paid $35 million — or nearly two thirds of an annual payment — to cover food for the next year and use of the company’s software system for forecasting, tracking and purchasing food and supplies, Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz told the Free Press on Tuesday. …

Push to end privatized prison food clears first hurdle
Source: Jonathan Oosting, Detroit News, April 10, 2018

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. But legislators and the Michigan Department of Corrections are at odds over a separate budget provision that would require the state to close its third prison since 2016 due to a steadily declining population. 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. …

Gov. Rick Snyder: State to end problem-plagued privatization experiment with prison food
Source: Paul Egan and Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, February 7, 2018

Gov. Rick Snyder announced Wednesday that the state will end a four-year experiment with privatizing its prison food service after years of maggots in food, smuggling by kitchen employees, kitchen workers having sex with inmates, inadequate staffing levels and other problems documented by the Free Press in a series of articles. … The Free Press, using Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act, documented a litany of problems, including meal shortages, maggots in the kitchen, the smuggling of drugs and other contraband by kitchen employees, kitchen workers engaging in sex acts with prisoners and even attempting to hire one inmate to have another inmate assaulted.  Nick Ciaramitaro, legislative director for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25, whose members used to staff the prison kitchen, said many of the more than 300 former workers have moved on to other jobs or retired, but he expects there will be a core workforce available to train new hires.  “It was a shocker,” Ciaramitaro said of Snyder’s announcement.  “I give him credit. It’s one thing to try something — it’s another thing to admit that it didn’t work.” …

… The state and Aramark Correctional Services of Philadelphia opted to end their $145.1-million contract about 18 months early in 2015 after the state balked at billing changes requested by Aramark. The state switched to a $158.8-million contract with Florida-based Trinity Services Group, but problems continued. Corrections Department Director Heidi Washington said the state plans to bring about 350 state workers back into the prison kitchens when the Trinity contract expires July 31. The state and Trinity have mutually agreed to part ways after Trinity sought price increases, she said. …

Michigan Department of Corrections, Trinity Services Group mutually agree to end contract
Source: Upper Michigan Source, February 7, 2018

The Michigan Department of Corrections will return to state-run food service operations this summer after coming to a mutual agreement with Trinity Services Group to end the partnership when the contract expires. The change, which would bring about 350 state workers back to correctional facility kitchens, was announced in Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget recommendation presentation Wednesday. … Budget language first approved in 2012 required the open bidding of food service operations to reduce correctional costs. The boilerplate language requiring the open bidding of food service is no longer in place, but the change would still require the Legislature to appropriate sufficient funds for these operations moving forward.

Opinion: Maggots, food shortages and contraband — this week in Michigan prison scandals
Source: Nancy Kaffer, Detroit Free Press, November 6, 2017

Maggots in the prison food. Again.  You know, I’m starting to think that a state government can’t outsource a service for $11 million less than it paid for in-house work and expect to deliver a quality product.   In three separate recent incidents, inmates at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility near Jackson, found moldy food, crunchy dirt in mashed potatoes, and maggots or other foreign substances in or near food, provided by outside contractor Trinity Services Group of Florida per incident reports obtained by a state worker through the Freedom of Information Act and reported in Monday’s Detroit Free Press. That’s on top of reported food shortages, inadequate staffing, unapproved substitutions, a change to the way the company gets paid (from number of prisoners eating to just the number of prisoners) and 176 Trinity workers barred from prison premises for transgressions like smuggling drugs, contraband or overfamiliarity with prisoners. …

Michigan’s prison food contract: A motive to serve yucky meals?
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, October 31, 2017

Michigan’s prison food contractor — already hit with millions of dollars in fines for performance issues and facing controversy over employees smuggling drugs and having sex with inmates — may now have a financial incentive to serve lousy food.  That’s because Florida-based Trinity Services Group merged last summer with another big out-of-state company that sells packaged food to Michigan prisoners who can afford to stay away from the chow hall and buy food to eat in their cells.  A few months after that merger, the state agreed to change its prison food contract and start paying Trinity based on the total number of prisoners incarcerated, instead of the number who show up for meals, which was the previous basis for payment.  That’s bad news for Michigan prisoners, because Florida-based Trinity Services Group no longer has an incentive — and in fact has a disincentive — to serve food that prisoners want to eat, critics say. …

Michigan prison food woes drag on
Source: Michael Gerstein, Detroit News, May 10, 2017

Food problems continue to plague Michigan prisons in 2017 after Gov. Rick Snyder replaced a previous private vendor over similar issues, state documents show.  Inmates at the Upper Peninsula Kinross Correctional Facility picked through “maggot infested potatoes” to find still-intact spuds for prison meals, according to documents the Lansing-based liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan obtained from the Michigan Department of Corrections through an open records request. … The report shows that the potatoes were discovered less than two months before a costly riot broke out amid prisoners’ complaints about food quality.  “We have had food issues or prisoner complaints at a variety of our prisons. Kinross doesn’t stand out to me as being particularly worse off than any other facilities that have food service there,” said Chris Gautz, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections. …

Prison food vendor in line for $4M contract boost
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, March 30, 2017

Three of the five prison food workers at Cotton Correctional Facility near Jackson walked off the job Wednesday after they were disciplined — the same day a House budget subcommittee approved a $4-million increase for the contractor that hired them, Florida-based Trinity Services Group. Trinity replaced problem-plagued Aramark Correctional Services in September 2015. Though complaints have declined under Trinity, the company has been hit with nearly $2.5 million in contract penalties for inadequate staffing levels and other problems since it took over. … [Corrections Department spokesman Chris] Gautz said that even if the $4 million increase is included in the final 2018 budget passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, the contract will still be saving the state more than $11 million a year over what it cost to provide the same service with state employees.  But Nick Ciaramitaro, legislative director of AFSCME Council 25, which represented the former state prison food workers, said the state’s estimated savings are based, in part, on the cost of unfunded pension liabilities that the state will have to pay, with or without a contractor.  Wednesday’s incident at Cotton is another example of a hidden cost, in which corrections officers have to be taken away from their normal security duties to work in the kitchen, Ciaramitaro said. … Food provided by Trinity — which has not responded to calls or e-mails from the Free Press — was among the complaints cited by inmates at Kinross Correctional Facility in a September disturbance that damaged the Upper Peninsula prison and cost the state nearly $900,000. Gautz said that through the end of December, the Corrections Department had issued 114 “stop orders,” barring from prison property former Trinity employees fired for offenses such as over-familiarity with prisoners or smuggling of contraband. …

Mich. prison contractor fined $2M over service issues
Source: Jonathan Oosting, The Detroit News, January 22, 2017

Michigan has fined its new private prison food service contractor more than $2 million for unplanned meal substitutions, delays, staffing shortages and other contract violations since late 2015, the state Department of Corrections confirmed Friday. Florida-based Trinity Food Services signed a three-year, $158 million contract in July 2015 after the state terminated its initial deal with Aramark Correctional Services over problems, including maggots found in kitchen areas and worker sex acts with prisoners. The Trinity fines include roughly $900,000 for meal substitutions, meaning Trinity was not able to provide food items it promised and instead served alternatives. The company was also fined roughly $357,000 for meal service delays and around $356,000 for staffing vacancies. … Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration had fined Aramark $200,000 before ending the contract about two years after the Republican-led Legislature required the state to privatize prison food service in an attempt to save money. The new deal struck with Trinity includes stricter language requiring fines for various violations. The state deducts the fines from its monthly payments to the company…. But critics say the Trinity fines are the latest evidence that contracting out prison food service to private companies has been a bad deal for Michigan, which laid off state workers in hopes of cutting costs. …

Food worker caught kissing inmate in kitchen cooler
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, September 8, 2016

A food worker has been fired and banned from state prison properties after she was caught making out with an inmate inside a kitchen cooler on Tuesday, a Corrections Department spokesman confirmed Thursday. After a corrections officer discovered the pair, prison officials determined the Trinity Services Group worker had also sent photographs to the inmate and had communicated with him using the JPay prison e-mail system, in violation of department rules, spokesman Chris Gautz said. … The incident happened at the Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center near Jackson, where new inmates are housed temporarily until they are assigned to prisons where they will serve their sentences. The worker was fired and given a “stop order,” preventing her from getting a job at another Michigan prison. Officials say such incidents of over-familiarity with kitchen workers and inmates — which are seen as major security risks —  have declined since August 2015, when Florida-based Trinity replaced Aramark Correctional Services, which is based in Philadelphia, as the state’s prison food contractor. But they haven’t stopped. In roughly one year since Trinity took over the prison food service, stop orders have been issued to 98 of its employees, and 71 of those cases involved over-familiarity, which includes not only sexual acts but behavior such as passing notes or even talking privately, in certain cases, Gautz said. In the same time frame, 141 stop orders had been issued to Aramark employees, he said. …

Michigan prison food worker fired after he’s found with suspected drugs
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, September 6, 2016

A food service worker at Cotton Correctional Facility near Jackson was fired and turned over to the Michigan State Police on Thursday after a search as he reported to work that day turned up suspected drugs, a Corrections Department spokesman confirmed Tuesday. … The discovery of suspected drugs on a Trinity Food Services worker is the latest in a series of such incidents since the state privatized its prison food service in December 2013. The suspected drug smuggling incident involving a Trinity Food Services worker is the latest in a series of such incidents since the State of Michigan privatized its prison food service in December 2013. … The number of smuggling incidents involving kitchen employees has declined, but not ceased, since Florida-based Trinity replaced Aramark Correctional Services of Philadelphia in September 2015. In May, a Trinity worker at the Ionia Correctional Facility was fired and the MSP opened an investigation after he was allegedly found in possession of heroin and methamphetamine. …

On the menu? Prison food worker found with heroin, meth
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, May 11, 2016

A prison food service worker at the Ionia Correctional Facility was fired Tuesday and is under investigation by the Michigan State Police after he was allegedly found in possession of heroin and methamphetamine. Corrections officers say they are concerned the same problems of smuggling and over-familiarity that were frequent under the department’s former food contractor, Aramark Correctional Services, are continuing under the replacement contractor, Trinity Food Services. … Lloyd said incidents of drug smuggling and kitchen workers becoming overly familiar with inmates are continuing under Trinity, which replaced Aramark as the prison food contractor in September. … Gautz said that in the first 10 months of service with Trinity, there have been 66 “stop orders” issued, in which employees are fired and banned from prison property. In the first 10 months under Aramark, there were 113 stop orders, he said. … Aramark began the prison food privatization in December 2013, replacing about 370 state workers.

Prisoner sues Aramark after rocks in taco lead to chipped teeth
Source: Angie Jackson, MLive, April 13, 2016

An Upper Peninsula prison inmate is suing Aramark for allegedly serving rocks in a taco, which he says caused him to crack and chip his teeth. … The alleged incident happened in 2014, when Aramark Correctional Services was the state’s prison food contractor. … Spates is representing himself in the lawsuit filed Monday, April 11, in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids. He is asking for $10,000 for cosmetic surgery and $25,000 in punitive damages. … Spates said he was eating lunch in the cafeteria on May 4, 2014, when he bit down hard on three rocks, creating “a loud crunch and cracking sound.” He swallowed one rock. One of his front teeth cracked in half down to the gums and four others were chipped, he said in the lawsuit. Corrections officers took two rocks as evidence.

Inmates protest food quality at 2nd northern Michigan prison
Source: Associated Press, March 31, 2016

Inmates at a second prison in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula have participated in a peaceful protest over the quality of food provided by a state contractor, an official said. Demonstrations at Chippewa Correctional Facility took place Saturday through Monday, said Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz. They followed protests on March 20-21 at Kinross Correctional Facility, another Kincheloe-area prison. … Lamont Heard, a Kinross inmate serving a life sentence for murder, told the Free Press in a telephone interview that the demonstrations were about food as well as complaints about a lack of ventilation and problems with overflowing toilets.

Report links prison food privatization to gangs
Source: Jonathan Oosting, Detroit News, March 30, 2016

Privatized prison food service and inexperienced kitchen workers have opened the state to more inmate theft, trafficking and even gang activity, according to a new University of Michigan report that the state disputes. The report from the UM’s Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy is based on focus groups interviews with corrections officers in April and May 2015. The state has since replaced its contractor, Aramark, but researcher Roland Zullo said Wednesday that the UM findings point to an “underlying weakness” in the the state’s practice of hiring private firms to provide some prison services. … The report suggests the state’s cost-cutting privatization move left Aramark with “little choice but to recruit under-qualified employees, many of whom committed violations of prison protocol and were released from duty.” Inexperienced contract workers would “understandably” turn to inmates working in the kitchen for advice, opening themselves to prisoner manipulation, the report argues.

Prisoners protest food under new contractor Trinity
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, March 22, 2016

After months of relative quiet under a new contractor, new protests over food erupted at a Michigan prison over the weekend and early this week, a Corrections Department spokesman confirmed Tuesday. About 1,000 of the Kinross Correctional Facility’s   approximately 1,300 inmates staged a silent protest Sunday, before a similar number refused to eat meals on Monday, Chris Gautz told the Free Press. The prison is near Kincheloe in the Upper Peninsula. … The warden met with Trinity officials Monday, who brought in extra staff and said they were addressing some issues about the way some new menu items were being prepared, Gautz said. Among the prisoner complaints was that one particular menu item was too watered down or soupy, he said. Breakfast at Kinross was normal on Tuesday, but Gautz wasn’t sure if the issues were fully resolved but he said the protest was likely an isolated incident. … Since it took over in August, Trinity has had 59 of its kitchen employees fired and subjected to “stop orders,” banning them from prison property, for a variety of infractions, Gautz said. Most of those related to over-familiarity, which can range to telephoning or writing a letter to a prisoner to engaging in sex acts, he said. … Trinity’s contract included several financial sweeteners and is estimated to cost the state $158.8 million over three years.

Michigan prisoners protest food quality
Source: Jonathan Oosting, Detroit News, March 22, 2016

The protest at the Kinross Correctional Facility in Chippewa County was “ an isolated incident,” said department spokesman Chris Gautz, indicating that the state’s three-year $158 million contract with Trinity Services Group has otherwise gone well. Roughly 1,000 prisoners staged a silent protest Sunday night, leaving the yard area of the prison about 20 minutes ahead of schedule and returning to their housing units, according to Gautz. … A large number of prisoners skipped breakfast the next morning, Gautz said. Only 60 prisoners came to lunch and 30 came to dinner, meals that are typically attended by roughly 1,200 prisoners. Gautz said Trinity added some new items to the prison menu a few weeks ago, and some of the prisoner-population staff at Kinross had difficulty “maintaining consistency” with the new recipes. The company brought in supervisors and managers to work with prisoner staff at Kinross after weekend complaints, he said, and meal attendance attendance had largely returned to normal by breakfast on Tuesday morning. …

Audit finds $3.4M discrepancy in prison meal counts
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, December 4, 2015

The Michigan Department of Corrections paid its former food services contractor, Aramark Correctional Services, $3.4 million for meals the department could not verify were served and in some cases paid the contractor for serving more meals than there were inmates to consume them, according to a preliminary auditor general’s report released Friday. And the uncertainty over the number of meals served — a key metric in determining how much the food contractor gets paid — continues under the current contractor, Trinity Services Group, which in September replaced Aramark in serving meals to about 43,000 Michigan prisoners, according to the report by Auditor General Doug Ringler. … The dispute over meal counts and billing was the reason the state cited for early termination of Philadelphia-based Aramark’s three-year, $145-million contract, by “mutual agreement.” The state did not cite as reasons a host of other problems that plagued the contract, many of which were first reported by the Free Press, including meal shortages, unauthorized menu item substitutions, maggots and other sanitation issues, smuggling of drugs and other contraband by Aramark employees, incidents of sex acts between Aramark workers and inmates, and a ‘hired hit’ incident in which an Aramark supervisor attempted to hire an inmate to arrange for an assault. A former Aramark worker was convicted in that case on Thursday.

What It’s Like to Eat Some of the Worst Prison Food in America
Source: Stephen Katz, Vice, September 25, 2015

Putting aside the possibility we were eating actual trash—a legitimate concern in Michigan—there’s no imagining the cartoonish dishes that landed in front of us, like bologna soup. I couldn’t have known beforehand that “meatballs” in fluorescent gray sauce would be cause for excitement because they were the best thing rolling out of the kitchen. There’s also no imagining the waves of despair that come with purchasing no-name, dehydrated beans off commissary and “cooking” them with tepid water in a fruit fly-infested shower that doubles as a laundry machine. … Over the last ten years, Aramark’s rotten food and low calorie counts sparked enough riots, hunger strikes, violence and protests that a growing number of voices in and around the prison industry are essentially labeling its recipe books a security threat.

Trinity takes over troubled Mich. prison food service
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, September 8, 2015

The director of the Michigan Department of Corrections is hoping for less turmoil in the prison chow halls starting today as Trinity Services Group replaces Aramark Correctional Services as the meal supplier for about 43,000 state inmates. … That hasn’t always been the case since Aramark took over in December of 2013, replacing about 370 state kitchen workers, based on projected cost savings of more than $14 million a year. Due to uneven staffing levels and uneven security training among Aramark staff, corrections officers have at times had a greater role in supervising the line to watch for theft of food and patting prisoners down. Washington said Trinity, which unlike Aramark only serves food in prisons and county jails, is more security-oriented. Although the company has taken on large numbers of former Aramark workers, it has retrained them all in Trinity methods, she said. … Trinity’s contract, at $158.8 million for three years, has a higher estimated cost than Aramark’s contract and sweeter terms such as clauses that protect the vendor from inflationary increases or increases in the minimum wage.

A Failed Privatization Experiment: Aramark and the Michigan Department of Corrections
Source: Progress Michigan, August 18, 2015

A report released today by Progress Michigan, a government watchdog group, shows that the Snyder administration and the Michigan Department of Corrections was just as complicit in the problems that plagued the scandal-ridden Aramark contract as the company itself. …. The report is based on documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Progress Michigan reviewed over 25,000 pages of emails between the Department of Corrections and Aramark. The contract issues were identified by the Department in Letters of Recommendation sent to Aramark. These documents show that the Department and the Snyder administration created a governing culture that allowed these persisent issues to become a reality across Michigan’s prisons.

Read full report.

Baraga prison prepares for new food service vendor
Source: Dan Roblee, Houghton Daily Mining Gazette, July 24, 2015

Like prisons throughout Michigan, Baraga Correctional Facility will be switching food service vendors from the much maligned Aramark Correctional Services to Trinity Services Group within the next few months. That’s good news to Ed Clements, chapter president of the Michigan Corrections Organization union for the maximum security prison, but he’s not necessarily sold on the new company, either. …. He said when state employees ran the kitchen, the food steward that managed them was required to have large-scale food service experience, and the rest of the workers received more effective training. Under Aramark, “these employees do computer-based training. They’re given a certain amount of time to get computer based training, to sit and read lessons,” he said.

Prison food bill to go up $13.7M with new vendor
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, July 18, 2015

The estimated cost of Michigan’s new prison food services contract with Trinity Services Group is $13.7 million more over three years than the problem-plagued Aramark Correctional Services contract it replaces. …. Though Gov. Rick Snyder’s decision to end the state’s problem-plagued relationship with Aramark was widely praised, the sweetened contract terms with Trinity raise new questions about the cost of the split, especially considering that Trinity also has been the subject of complaints on sanitation issues and providing inadequate meals in connection with contracts it holds in other states….Aramark’s $145.1-million contract required kitchen workers to be high school graduates with four years of food service experience. Under its $158.8-million deal, Trinity’s workers also must be high school grads, but no experience is needed….Nick Ciaramitaro, legislative director for Michigan AFSCME Council 25, which represented the 370 state prison kitchen workers Aramark replaced in 2013, said the state should have called for new bids and state workers should have been given a chance to compete on a new, three-year deal. “I don’t see the savings, and I think we’re playing with fire,” Ciaramitaro said Thursday. “Making the same mistake twice is not a good thing.”

Michigan union will try to stop new prison food contract
Source: David Eggert, Associated Press, Jul. 15, 2015

A Michigan union pledged to try to stop a three-year, $158 million prison food contract approved Tuesday, questioning the lack of a new bid and saying state employees should again be doing the work instead. …. Ed McNeil with Michigan AFSCME Council 25 said the Department of Technology, Management & Budget violated the law by not seeking new bids for the work once Aramark failed to fulfill the contract.

Union to challenge new prison food contract
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, July 14, 2015

A union representing state employees says it will challenge the State of Michigan’s decision to take the prison food contract away from one private company and give the contract to a second company without first calling for bids…..Today, Michigan AFSCME Council 25 said it will challenge as unlawful the $158-million three-year deal with Trinity, which would replace a $145-million, three-year contract with Aramark. “The reason why government has an open bid process is to insure the public is getting the lowest price and best value for the services provided,” Ed McNeil, special assistant to the president of Michigan AFSCME Council 25, said in a news release.

Michigan union criticizes new 3-year, $158 million prison food contract, will try to stop it
Source: David Eggert, Fox Business, July 14, 2015

AFSCME Trying To Stop Prison Food Service Change
Source: Associated Press, July 14, 2015

Michigan to end prison food deal with Aramark
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, July 13, 2015

The state of Michigan is parting ways with prison food vendor Aramark by “mutual agreement” and moving to a new contractor, Trinity Services Group, the state announced today. A transition will begin July 29 and is expected to be concluded on Sept. 9 — what would have been three months shy of the two-year anniversary of Aramark’s three-year, $145-million contract with the state of Michigan….Nick Ciaramitaro, legislative director for AFSCME Council 25, which represented the state prison kitchen workers, said the union is “very happy that they are recognizing the Aramark bid was an error and getting out from under it.” However, “how do you do this without rebidding, and why aren’t state employees being considered” to return to the prison kitchens, Ciaramitaro asked.

Michigan cuts short prison food contract with Aramark after problems, including $200,000 fine
Source: David Eggert, Associated Press, July 13, 2015

Snyder ends Aramark prison food contract
Source: Chad Livengood and Gray Heinlein, Detroit News, July 13, 2015

Editorial – To cut prison costs, reform sentencing and parole
Source: Detroit Free Press, July 14, 2015

Maggots prompt call for prison kitchen inspections
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, June 24, 2015

Michigan’s prison food contractor, Aramark Correctional Services, is targeted in a bipartisan bill to require food safety inspections of prison kitchens, following the most recent incident involving maggots in or around food. Reps. John Kivela, D-Marquette, and Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, want Aramark to pick up the cost of the inspections by local health departments. Currently, prison kitchens are exempt from the food safety inspections that restaurants receive, because they are not considered “food establishments” under the Michigan Food Law. House Bills 4748 and 4749 would change that. … It was the latest in a series of incidents since Philadelphia-based Aramark replaced about 370 state workers and began a three-year, $145-million contract to serve meals to Michigan’s 43,000 prisoners in December 2013.
Prison food contractor Aramark wants a raise
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, May 22, 2015

Aramark Correctional Services, the prison food contractor that faced a barrage of complaints in its first year on the job, is now seeking a possible increase in its $145-million state contract, an official said Thursday. So, the state has invited a competitor, Florida-based Trinity Services Group, in as part of a “benchmarking review,” to look at food service costs. ….. The three-year Aramark contract has been marked by controversy since it began in December 2013, when the company replaced about 370 state kitchen workers, based on projected cost savings of more than $14 million a year. The state fined Aramark $98,000 in March 2014 for food shortages, unauthorized menu substitutions and over-familiarity between kitchen workers and inmates, and another $200,000 in August 2014 after problems persisted. The state later confirmed it quietly waived the March fine soon after it was imposed, and Aramark never paid it. …. So far, 166 stop orders have been issued to Aramark employees fired for various infractions, barring them from all Michigan prison properties, said Corrections Department spokesman Chris Gautz. On Wednesday, a former Aramark supervisor was arraigned in Sault Ste. Marie on a felony charge related to allegations he tried to recruit an inmate at Kinross Correctional Facility to arrange for an assault on another inmate held at another Michigan prison. ….

Kitchen sex still an issue after 1 year of Aramark
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, December 14, 2014

One year after taking over food services in Michigan prisons, Aramark Correctional Services has improved its performance but still has too many workers breaking important prison rules, particularly in terms of inappropriate relationships with inmates, the state official overseeing the contract told the Free Press on Friday. Last week, the Michigan Department of Corrections confirmed six incidents since late September in which female Aramark employees were fired and banned from prison property as a result of sexual contact with inmates. It also confirmed an October incident in which a male Aramark worker was fired after retrieving meat from an otherwise empty trash bag and feeding it to prisoners….

Aramark employee charged with bringing marijuana into Gus Harrison prison
Source: Dennis Pelham, Daily Telegram, December 5, 2014

An Aramark employee fired after he was allegedly caught smuggling marijuana into the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility on Oct. 3 was arraigned Thursday in Lenawee County District Court. He is the first employee of the food service company charged with a crime inside the prison in Madison Township since the meal program was privatized nearly a year ago.

Prisoners in Marquette demonstrate over Aramark food
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, November 12, 2014

Prisoners at the high-security Marquette Branch Prison in the Upper Peninsula held a weekend demonstration over food complaints, a Corrections Department spokesman confirmed today. About 40 inmates said Saturday they would refuse to leave the prison yard unless the warden met with them over complaints about the food served by Aramark Correctional Services, the Philadelphia-based company that took over prison food services from state employees on Dec. 8, corrections spokesman Chris Gautz said.

State says it misstated facts on Aramark pay hikes
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, October 1, 2014

The state of Michigan retreated Wednesday on statements that Aramark Correctional Services, the state’s problem-plagued prison food contractor, will increase workers’ pay an average of $2 an hour as a way of improving staffing levels. Ed Buss, a former Indiana and Florida corrections director recently appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to monitor the contract, “misstated” the facts when he said Aramark wages would increase an average of $2 an hour statewide, said Caleb Buhs, a spokesman for the Department of Technology, Management and Budget….Nick Ciaramitaro, legislative director for AFSCME Council 25, said he only learned about the changes from a Free Press reporter and wanted to get more information before commenting. But he said he’s suspicious that Aramark will take on significant additional costs without trying to recover them from the state…

Aramark to beef up prison food staffing, hike pay
Source: Paul Egan, Lansing State Journal, October 1, 2014

Aramark Correctional Services, the state’s problem-plagued prison food contractor, will be required to increase workers’ pay an average of $2 an hour and increase its staffing level to 120%, all at the company’s cost, the state’s new contract overseer said Wednesday. But a spokeswoman for Aramark said Wednesday there was “some confusion” around the wage issue and it’s not accurate to say the company is increasing wages an average of $2 an hour for its Michigan prison food workers or that wages are being increased across the board….

Aramark Contract Still In Place
Source: Nick Perreault, WLNS, September 25, 2014

One hundred. That’s the running total of Aramark prisoner food employees given stop orders. They’ve also been banned from re-entering Michigan prisons. The reasons have varied from allegations of sleeping with inmates to sneaking contraband into prison. On Thursday 6 News Nick Perreault found out, there’s another one to add to the list. Michigan Corrections Organization director Mel Grieshaber says he’s heard reports of an Aramark employee accused of setting up the death of another prisoner.

Mich. prison worker suspected in attempted hired hit
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, September 25, 2014

A worker for a prison food service company contracted by Michigan’s correctional facilities that has been plagued by a series of misdeeds is suspected of murder for hire. An Aramark Correctional Services food service worker at Kinross Correctional Facility in the eastern Upper Peninsula is suspected of approaching an inmate there about arranging to have another inmate killed, a Michigan State Police official confirmed Wednesday. Det.-Sgt. Michael Schroeder of the Michigan State Police Sault Ste. Marie post told the Free Press Wednesday police have sent a warrant request to the Chippewa County Prosecutor’s Office following a lengthy investigation and are awaiting a response. An inmate complained in July that a food service worker approached him about arranging to kill an inmate held at another facility, in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, Schroeder said….

Aramark worker arrested after 5 inmates found with heroin, other drugs
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, September 16, 2014

An Aramark kitchen food worker is facing charges related to drug smuggling after five prisoners at St. Louis Correctional Facility were found with heroin, marijuana, cocaine and tobacco Monday, a Corrections Department spokesman confirmed. In all, 39 packets of the contraband drugs and tobacco were found in a series of searches that followed an investigation, Russ Marlan told the Free Press….

Schauer accuses governor of lying about canceled Aramark fine
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, September 12, 2014

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer on Friday accused the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder of lying to the people of Michigan about a $98,000 fine levied against the state’s prison food contractor. But a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections said “there was absolutely no deception at play” in not publicly revealing until Thursday that the fine levied against Aramark for poor performance in March was suspended and never paid. … Schauer said the e-mail exchange shows a top aide to the governor pressuring a department director to give special treatment to a contractor. He said after acknowledging the fine, the Snyder administration should not have let months go by without correcting the impression the fine was paid by Aramark. “The governor has to take responsibility, through his spokespeople, for continuing to contend … that Aramark paid a $98,000 fine,” Schauer said. Marlan said the fine was reported by the media as a result of a FOIA request and never announced by the department. …

Prisons director canceled $98,000 fine imposed on Aramark
Source: Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, September 11, 2014

The director of the Michigan Department of Corrections canceled a $98,000 fine levied in March against prison food contractor Aramark Correctional Services, a spokesman confirmed today. “It never was paid,” said Russ Marlan, a spokesman for the department. Director Dan Heyns “wanted to give them some time to solve the problems we were experiencing.” The Free Press published a series of articles on how the contract with Aramark, which began in December, has been marked by problems with food shortages, sanitation issues and Aramark workers getting too friendly with prisoners — in some cases smuggling in contraband or engaging in sex acts with prisoners. …. “That’s outrageous,” said Nick Ciaramitaro, legislative director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’ Council 25, which represented about 370 state employees who were displaced by the Aramark contract. “Things only got worse after the first fine.”

Michigan official feared ‘losing control’ of prison from food problems
Source: Gary Heinlein, Detroit News, September 11, 2014

Michigan’s Corrections Department director was worried about “losing control” of a prison six months ago because of a troubled food vendor, according to an email exchange released Thursday. In a brief email exchange from March, state prison head Daniel Heyns tells Gov. Rick Snyder’s Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore he will “tone down my attack dogs, delay or cancel any fines and give Aramark time to solve the problems.”…

State prisons director canceled nearly $100,000 Aramark fine
Source: Fox17, September 11, 2014

A $98,000 fine imposed on the state’s prison food contractor Aramark was canceled, according to a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections. MDOC spokesman Russ Marlan said that Director Daniel Heyns wanted to give the company time to solve some of the issues the state was having with them.That sentiment is also echoed in emails between Heyns and Gov. Rick Snyder’s Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore that were published Thursday by Progress Michigan. …

Ex-Florida prison chief monitors Michigan contract
Source: David Eggert, Associated Press, September 11, 2014

Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration has hired the former chief of prisons in Florida and Indiana to oversee Michigan’s troubled three-year, $145 million contract with a company supplying inmates with food. Edwin Buss began work Sept. 2 and will be paid $160,000 a year. His salary is being covered with a $200,000 fine that the state levied last month against Aramark Correctional Services for unapproved menu substitutions, inadequate staffing and employee misconduct, Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel told The Associated Press. …. Prison unions who oppose the privatization of food service had raised suspicions that Snyder was trying to shield emails and documents related to the food contract from public disclosure, since his office is not subject to public records requests. …. Buss, 48, most recently worked in Florida as chief development officer for Correctional Healthcare Companies Inc. The Tennessee-based company provides medical and mental health care to prison and jail inmates.

Our Views: Aramark jail service too ‘private’
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…