The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) has recommended the state sign a new two-year contract with the for-profit food vendor, Aramark. The ODRC did not announce the recommendation, which was actually completed last year. The Associated Press got wind of it only after “a records request said the prisons department was satisfied with Aramark’s performance and wanted to renew despite issues with the contract.”
Those “issues” refer to the long list of offenses and contract violations, including food shortages, contaminated food supplies and ‘improper relations’ between employees and inmates, for which Ohio fined Aramark $272,000 last year. Since then, Ohio prison officials say Aramark’s service has improved.
There are scant details on why the ODRC thinks Aramark is fit to continue serving Ohio prisons. According to the Sandusky Register, the evaluation form the AP obtained was little more than a series of check boxes, yes/no answers and standardized questions, “not a detailed analysis.” But one thing the evaluation did show was that state officials were impressed that Aramark’s cost-per-prisoner was similar to that of Indiana and Michigan, where they also have contracts.
The comparison to Michigan, in particular, is interesting because things are not exactly going smoothly there with regards to the state’s contract with Aramark. Continue reading