New report shows maggots weren’t the only problem in Michigan prisons

LANSING, MI (WLNS) – A group called Progress Michigan says maggots weren’t the only problem behind bars when the company Aramark handled food service for Michigan’s prisons.

A new report shows almost half of the reported problems surrounding the kitchens were never fixed.

The information is based on 25,000 pages of emails between the department of corrections and Aramark obtained by progress Michigan over eight months.

”There’s 1,791 examples of the fact that they failed to hold the contractor accountable,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director, Progress Michigan.

Gnats and flies on the serving line and inmates being issued tools, without having to sign them out.

According to a new report these are just a handful of the thousands of reported problems with former food service provider Aramark where in a period of eight months nearly half of issues like these happened time and time again.

Progress Michigan says Aramark never fixed them and proves contract overseers let things slide.

But the DOC says the report built off of thousands of DOC emails, proves just the opposite.

“We think that our contract monitors did an outstanding job at monitoring this contract. Evidence by the fact that there were some 25,000 pages of documents that were responsive to Progress Michigan’s FOIA request,” said Chris Gautz, MDOC spokesperson.

Gautz says the Department of Corrections addressed every issue and required Aramark to turn in an action plan on how they were going to solve the problem, and then followed up.

While Aramark was under contract, the state hired Ed Buss to help supervise.

Progress Michigan says in their report Buss was only found on one of the 2,500 pages of emails.

The Department of Corrections says the request only covered the time where Buss roughly started, and assured Buss was informed of problems while holding the position.

He also said the thousands of problems cited with Aramark were mostly minor issues like the temperature in the cooler being a few degrees off or inmates forgetting to put on beard nets.

Michigan severed its contract with Aramark last month for billing concerns, hiring a new vendor, Trinity.

But Progress Michigan says the problems may persist.

“Simply changing the vendor without changing the culture that allowed such egregious actions will do nothing but cost tax payers money,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director, Progress Michigan.

But MDOC says they don’t believe history will repeat itself.

“We feel very confident in the relationship we have with trinity that things are going to go well and they’re going to perform to the contract,” said Chris Gautz, MDOC spokesperson.

Corrections officials say Aramark was fined $200,000 for violating their contract and those contract clauses will also apply to the new food provider.

Trinity will officially complete their transition into Michigan prisons in September.

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