Criminal Justice

Inmates angry over prison meals pose safety threat; state tells vendor to shape up or face sanctions

The state of Michigan contracted with a private vendor to provide meals for prison inmates with the expectation of saving millions of dollars every year.

But issues over the type and amount of food provided by Aramark Correctional Services are now taking up officials’ time and even posing a threat to prison safety, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Disruptive behavior by prisoners at the state’s St. Louis Correctional Facility earlier this month was sparked by high-security prisoners unhappy about their chow, a prison spokesman told the newspaper. Tear gas was used to quell the disturbance and, learning afterward of the food issues, Randall Treacher, who serves as chief deputy director for the state department of corrections, wrote a letter to Aramark demanding improvements.

As of July 1, a three-year, $145 million contract will be strictly enforced, he wrote. That could mean financial penalties or even early termination of the contract if standard prison meals don’t comply with a standard statewide menu, the newspaper reports.

Spokeswoman Karen Cutler said Aramark has “made a. great deal of progress and continues to work diligently to address any issues that arise” after taking over as the supplier of meals to the state prison system in December.

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