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Prison worker says he was fired for refusing to serve rotten potatoes

Prison bars
flickr user Thomas Hawk

A former prison food services worker says he was fired because he would not serve rotten potatoes to inmates. Steve Pine worked at the Kinross Correctional Facility in the Upper Peninsula until this past weekend. He was employed by Trinity Services Group, a private contractor that provides food services to state prisons.

Pine tells The Detroit Free Press that he refused an order to have inmates sort through the potatoes. He was afraid that would lead a disturbance like one that occurred at the prison last September. 

A spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections says complaining about food in front of inmates can create a security risk.

“Instances like this that could be dealt with one way, if they’re dealt with in an improper way they can lead to serious and sometimes grave  consequences in our facilities," said Chris Gautz.

He says the department monitors how well vendors comply with state contracts.

“In this case, you know, we’re just going to continue to work with Trinity and make sure that they understand what’s acceptable and what’s not,” Gautz said.

Gautz says the potatoes were never served to inmates. There have been multiple issues with food quality and staffing since Michigan privatized prison food services in 2012. 


Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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