LANSING (WWJ/AP) - The state of Michigan is fining its prison food vendor $200,000 for "unacceptable" errors since food service was privatized late last year.
The fine announced Friday is the second imposed on Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services after a $98,000 fine earlier.
In a statement out Friday, Gov. Rick Snyder said the transition to Aramark has seen "errors on both sides of the relationship which are unacceptable and need to be corrected going forward," and that multiple corrective actions will be taken going forward to" ensure that our prison food service operations are implementing best practices and achieving the same success that Aramark has seen in working with other states."
Aramark has come under scrutiny for unapproved menu substitutions that potentially create "unsafe conditions" within Michigan's prisons, inadequate staffing, and workers having "inappropriate contact" with inmates.
In July, four female Aramark workers were fired after they were caught on surveillance video kissing and sexually touching male inmates inside a walk-in cooler at Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia.
Snyder says privatization is on the pace to save $14 million a year. He says Aramark will be required to redesign staffing procedures. The fine will be used to hire an independent contract oversight adviser who will work in the governor's office.
Mel Grieshaber — executive director of the Michigan Corrections Organization, which represents corrections prison officers — believes Aramark should be fired.
"It's ridiculous," Grieshaber told WWJ's Beth Fisher. "They were fined 98,000 in February or March and now $200,000 to...a multi-billion dollar company, a national company, that has a $145 million contract with the state."
"A $200,000 fine is peanuts," he said.
Snyder, however, seems optimistic about the future of the relationship between Aramark and the Department of Corrections.
"One of our main goals has always been to run state government and state services in the most efficient way possible," the governor said. "Aramark has provided services successfully to hundreds of correctional facilities across the country for nearly 40 years. I fully expect the DOC and Aramark to work in close partnership to ensure the same success here in Michigan."
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