While the Michigan Department of Corrections and Gov. Snyder weigh their options in deciding the fate of the controversial three-year, $145 million Aramark prison food service contract in the wake of a string of contractual breaches and findings of employee misconduct, leaders now have even more to consider.
Just yesterday, Ohio prison officials, who have been experiencing similar problems with the private food vendor, slapped the company with a second fine for non-compliance with their $110 million contract signed at about the same time as Michigan’s. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections sent a letter to Aramark levying a $130,200 fine citing maggots, staffing shortages, improper food substitutions, transport of contraband, and sanitation problems at five prisons in the state since the company received their first warning last April when they were fined $142,000.
The Daily Times reports the chief of the Ohio prison oversight committee, Joanna Saul, blamed the problems on underpaid employees:
“You’re making $10 to $11, you can bring in a pack of cigarettes and sell it for $300 — what are you going to choose?”
Ninety-six employees have been banned in Ohio. Michigan has given the boot to about eighty so far. Michigan also recently fined the vendor $98,000 for numerous problems — yet instead of improving, the service appears to be deteriorating. Weekly reports of employee misconduct and sanitation problems continue to plague the vendor.
Earlier this week, the Alger Correctional Facility had to pitch 4,000 pounds of potatoes after they were found to be infested with maggots.
Pressure is mounting as lawmakers and activists continue to urge the governor to dump the vendor before Michigan experiences a prison riot. The Correctional News reports that a decision will be within days.
Aramark has been attempting to deflect the criticism claiming it’s “an ongoing political and media circus about anti-privatization.”