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Problems pile up for Jackson-area prison as state puts it under quarantine

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Problems keep piling up at Parnall Correctional Facility near Jackson.

Last week, maggots were found on the serving line in the prison's cafeteria.

Over the weekend, inmates started getting sick with a stomach virus.

And the problems have gotten worse. Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan says the number of sick prisoners is now up to 150, and the prison's been put under quarantine.

"We did that to minimize the transfer of this illness to other correctional facilities,” Marlan said. “We move a lot of prisoners every day, and we want to decrease the risk of transferring this to our other 31 prisons."

Quarantine means “we're not transferring any prisoners into or out of that correctional facility, and we're not allowing visits," Marlan said.

There are about 1,800 inmates at the facility, and the virus has spread among prisoners in different housing units.

Marlan says there is no definitive link between the illness and the prison's food.

But the state's prison food service provider, Aramark, is under criticism for several problems since its contract started in December – including food shortages, understaffing, and smuggling banned items into prisons.

Marlan says the department is monitoring contract violations, and will review any problems later this month. He says the state's options include fines, and canceling the contract altogether.

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Radio’s Director of Enterprise & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.
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