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Food conditions still issue in Michigan’s prisons

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Michigan’s attempts to privatize prison food services is still running into problems. The legislature approved outsourcing prison food service in 2012 to cut costs. But it canceled its first contract with Aramark in 2015, after numerous problems.

 

Reports obtained by the liberal watchdog group Progress Michigan show the prisons are still having problems with spoiled food and outside staff.

 

Progress Michigan also wants the legislature to stop outsourcing services. Spokesperson Sam Inglot said this “failed experiment” needs to end.

 

“Basically it’s more of the same,” he said. “There have been problems with this privatized, outsourced prison food contract from the beginning. Aramark had problems and Trinity is displaying a lot of very similar food issues.”

 

Michigan Department of Corrections spokesperson Chris Gautz said the legislature controls whether they use state employees or an outside provider.  

 

“It’s no secret that we’ve had issues with food service venders that we’ve had since the legislature pushed us into this type of contract,” Gautz said. “That said, we have been working to hold to account our outside vendors.”

 

Gautz said the department has a contract monitoring unit that holds the food service to specific standards or risk fines. He said so far the current provider, Trinity, has been fined almost 2.5 million dollars since 2015.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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