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Did food service company deliver sex in addition to food to Michigan state prisons?

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The state Corrections Department may not be smiling but at least some prisoners are after having inappropriate contact with employees of a private company hired to provide food services behind prison walls. A union contends that included sex while the DOC contends that is an exaggeration although it does confirm one case of kissing.

Either way 29 Aramark employees have been banned from prison work for "over familiarity" which also apparently included writing love letters to crooks and attempting to smuggle cell phones behind prison walls.  It's a good bet none of that was agreed to in the state contract.

The company was hired after a contentious legislative debate to fire 373 unionized state employees in favor of this privatization experiment designed to save taxpayers over $12 million but some are asking, at what cost? The state corrections officer union and AFSCME were at the front of the line warning this company had it's own "rap sheet."

The Associated Press reports that in Kentucky, Ohio and Florida, the company charged for food it never served.

There are 127 OSHA inspection records on file concerning the firm.

At Fenway park, the company settled a class action suit for $1.5 million for allegedly pocketing tips.

And on the political front, the company is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council better known as ALEC, the group liberals love to hate.

So against that back drop during the legislative back and forth, the unions added  more spice to the soup.

They warned that how you handle food in the prison is one of the most important, if not the most important tool for keeping the peace or put more bluntly, to avoid disturbances.

And sure enough after the company took over in December, inmates staged a silent protest over the food conditions at Kinross and when prisoners at another facility were served a lettuce, celery and mayo sandwich, that caused an "environment of a hostile nature" according to a state review.

In another instance they ran out of pancakes and sausage forcing 120 inmates to dine on PBJ.  Now some will contend, no big deal.  Prisons are not the Ritz-Carlton and peanut and jelly is better than nothing but the state is worried that this is not an isolated occurrence.  Legal Affairs administrator for the department Daphne Johnson writes, the company is making "excessive" food substitutions to cover "food outages."  In other words the state is not getting what it paid for.

Told ya so, is the outcry from the unions.

The company, after being fined $98,000 by the state for non-performance violations of the contract, suggested that providing a new service "comes with foreseeable and unforeseeable challenges for both parties during the first several weeks of operation."  Problem is these unforeseeable challenges came long after the first few weeks.

One might be willing to cut them a little slack because moving into new locations does have some pitfalls, but Aramark has been at this game since 1959, not exactly a start-up.  Isn't safe to assume that 55 years into the mission that would have this transition stuff down to a science?    

On top of all the food problems at the Huron Valley facility for women, the new hires were given eight hours of computer training, according to the MIRS News Service which reviewed 500 pages of state inspections.  The report says they were then placed on the job "and knew nothing about policy, procedure and work rules…This lack of training is unacceptable, dangerous and creates safety and security issues," the state concluded.

The food shortages, large staff turnover, inadequately trained employees, a failure to control kitchen knives, not to mention the "over familiarity",  brought a promise from a company big wig that it will do better.

For its part the DOC says the jury is still out.  It's too early to determine if this is just growing pains or something more serious.

Pass the tomato sandwich please while taxpayers wait to find out which one it is.

 

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