Gov. Rick Snyder plans to end Michigan's use of a company to feed prisoners and return to hiring state workers to handle food service.
The Republican governor made the announcement while delivering his budget proposal to lawmakers Wednesday. He says his administration and Trinity Food Services have mutually agreed to not extend the contract, which ends July 31.
Trinity was hired in 2015 after the state terminated a $145 million contract with Aramark Correctional Services after the company came under scrutiny for unapproved menu substitutions, worker misconduct and other issues.
The state's initial outsourcing in 2013 led to the loss of 370 unionized state jobs replaced by lower-paid private workers.
Snyder says hiring state employees to do the work would not cost more money overall because the prison population is declining. He says the benefits of privatization do not outweigh the cost, and the experiment has not been "successful."
Anita Lloyd, Communications Director for the Michigan Corrections Organization released the following statement:
“MCO members and leaders had voiced serious safety concerns about Trinity and Aramark throughout their contracts. These concerns led MCO to start a national conversation with other corrections administrators and unions. Poor food quality and quantity has created problems in prisons around the country.
MCO members never backed off from our security concerns around food service changes. We frequently discussed it with legislators, the media, and MDOC administrators. Members banded together on this issue and spoke with one voice. This shows our advocacy and persistence can lead to positive safety changes when we work together.
There are many unanswered questions about this transition back to state workers. When we have concrete details, we will share them with members. MCO believes that when it comes to custody, security, and safety, front-line staff are a resource and should be included in the conversation.
Corrections is changing around the U.S. Innovations and new technologies are unveiled every day. As corrections officers and professionals, we should embrace these changes and point out where they work and where they don’t. Nationwide, we hope corrections administrators will invite more frontline staff and their unions to the table to help think through the possible solutions.”
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