From the November-December 2014 issue of News & Letters
Lapeer, Mich.—Since the publication of my article, “Prison privatization is a crime” in the Jan.-Feb. 2014 News & Letters, over 100 Aramark Correctional Services (ACS) employees have been fired and banned from Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) prisons for smuggling in drugs, cell phones and other contraband, sex with prisoners, and, most recently, paying one prisoner to kill another at a prison in Kincheloe. ACS has proven incapable of maintaining sanitary kitchens and food lines and has failed to follow the MDOC menu, consistently running out of food as it’s being served, failing to follow required cooking procedures, and making numerous menu item substitutions—all in violation of its three-year, $145 million contract with the MDOC.
This blatant ACS corporate culture of criminal acts and contractual malfeasance should come as no surprise to readers of my previous article. It has resulted in $98,000 in fines against ACS in March and another $200,000 in August. Also coming as no surprise are the numerous reports of prisoners becoming sick—179 in July at the Egeler Reception & Guidance Center, followed by another 182 at Parnall Correctional Facility, both in Jackson, Mich., attributed to being served spoiled and maggot-infested food.
Since the advent of MDOC’s contract with ACS, prisoners’ health has been in a general decline across the state. For an estimated annual savings of $12 million in food service but, with healthcare costing several hundred million annually, one wonders if there are any “savings” at all—especially as this “estimate” is based on MDOC Food Service’s revised pre-bid claim that it costs $2.15 to feed each prisoner per day, when previously they claimed it only cost $1.65. The $2.15 claim conveniently manifested itself just prior to ACS’s “bid,” the only bid, for the food service contract. Thus, the purported $12 million in savings to taxpayers is highly suspect, all the more so in light of the increased healthcare costs for hundreds of sick prisoners and the costs for 100-plus investigations of criminal and corrupt ACS employees or, as we like to call them in Michigan, scabs.
How high does this corruption reach? Pretty high, considering that it was only recently disclosed in emails between MDOC director Daniel Heyns and Governor Rick Snyder’s chief of staff, Dennis Muchmore, that $98,000 in fines levied in March against ACS for contract violations were cancelled, revealing that sickeningly sweet stench of a sweetheart contract at the expense of state taxpayers and the 370 fired MDOC food service workers. Adding to this stench, Gov. Snyder appointed Edwin Buss, a former executive of a private prison healthcare services corporation, to “independently” monitor the ACS contract. This fox guarding the henhouse will be paid $160,000 per year, with his first year’s pay coming out of the $200,000 fine levied against ACS in August. The whole affair almost smells worse than the food coming out of our chow halls these days!
—Rand W. Gould C-187131
Thumb Correctional Facility
3225 John Conley Dr., Lapeer, MI 48446