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Rep. Carney Calls for Legislative Oversight of State Prison, Aramark Contract

Numerous contract violations warrant committee's review, says lawmaker
July 11, 2014
Democrat Newsroom

Today, State Rep. John Patrick Carney (D-Columbus) asked House Speaker Bill Batchelder to hold a hearing of bipartisan legislators to investigate the state’s controversial contract with private prison food vendor, Aramark Corporation. Rep. Carney’s letter follows multiple, recent reports of vendor contract breaches due to food shortages, improper employee behavior and unsanitary food conditions—including several separate instances of maggot infestations.

A copy of Rep. Carney’s letter to Speaker Batchelder can be seen below:

 July 10, 2014

Speaker Batchelder,

I am very troubled by the recent reports of maggots in state prison meals as a result of improper conduct by Aramark. My initial skepticism of the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC)’s decision to privatize food service delivery has proven accurate, as we are faced with more and more inconsistencies and violations on the part of Aramark’s food services to Ohio’s prisons.

Yesterday I submitted the attached letter to DRC Director Gary Mohr requesting public records about Aramark’s policies and services to Ohio’s prisons and documentation from several prisons concerning unsanitary living conditions. Given that more information emerged today indicating another maggot infestation in yet another prison, I am respectfully requesting hearings be held in the Finance Subcommittee on Transportation and Justice to investigate the severity of Aramark’s inability to meet the standards set forth in their $110 million contract with the state.

As I am sure you are aware, since their service began in September 2013, Aramark has faced much scrutiny over misconduct by its employees, resulting in 76 employees permanently banned from Ohio prisons. Additional contract violations resulted in a $142,000 fine for problems, including failure to hire enough workers to prepare and serve meals.

Yet, these fines have not solved the problems Aramark has created for Ohio prisons. Since the fine was implemented on April 18, 2014, we learned of food shortages at the Warren Correctional Institution and the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC) reported on the poor quality of food supplied by Aramark to the Chillicothe Correctional Institution. Now, we are discovering that Aramark is providing our prisons with unsanitary food and equipment, including maggots reported at the Noble Correctional Institution, the Ohio Reformatory for Women and the Trumbull Correctional Institution.

Aramark’s failure to provide safe and sanitary conditions in our prisons must be resolved. The taxpayers of Ohio deserve to know how their money is being spent, and as such, we must hold accountable the entities entrusted with taxpayer money. I trust that you will convene these hearings promptly to protect taxpayers’ dollars and hold Aramark responsible for its actions.

I thank you in advance for your timely response to this urgent request.

Sincerely,

Representative John Patrick Carney