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A closer look at Aramark and the troubles with privatization in prisons

Prison fence barbed wire
Kevin Rosseel
Michigan ranks fourth in the nation for prisoner rehabilitation

Sex with inmates - maggots in the food - smuggling drugs to inmates - undercooked or spoiled food.

When is enough "enough" with Aramark, the food service company hired seven months ago to feed inmates in Michigan prisons?

The privatization was supposed to save the state more than $12 million a year. But it's been a Pandora's box of troubles for state prison officials ever since Aramark took over last December.

Paul Egan of the Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau joined us today. He has reported on all the problems associated with the Aramark contract. Egan said that so far, things are not getting any better.

“There certainly wasn’t anything like the volume of cases we’re seeing right now where there’s been over 80 Aramark workers banned,” Egan said.

Egan pointed out the reason Aramark got the contract in the first place is that the Legislature wanted to save money. It's unclear whether that goal was achieved.

“The Aramark workers are still not able to pat down prisoners. The prison administration said they are going to have to put more prison officers into the kitchen to maintain security... In that area, it doesn’t appear so far Aramark has been able to do what they said they are going to do,” Egan said.

Egan added if the contract with Aramark can be canceled for cause, Aramark actually has to cover all the costs related to cancelation, including finding a replacement company. This may take a little longer because a certain procedure has to be followed. We may also see formal warning letters issued to Aramark.

"If things continue to happen, I won’t be surprised to see something happen before the end of the month," Egan said.

*Listen to our interview above.

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