Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Food Vendor's Employee Caught Smuggling Drugs Into Indiana State Prison At LaPorte

Letrice Drake
A supervisory employee for Aramark Correctional Services, a division of the food services giant that is under contract to provide meals for Indiana's prison inmates, was arrested last week trying to smuggle drugs into the Indiana State Prison at LaPorte. WNDU-TV reports that Letrice Drake was arrested for felony drug possession and trafficking after prison guards caught her trying to bring heroine, marijuana, suboxone and tobacco products found in a package wrapped with black electrical tape.

Drake is a 25-year old food services supervisor for Aramark from Gary who was hired by the company in March. Superintendent William K. Wilson, stated, “I am very proud of the staff and the great work we do on a daily basis. This is indicative of our commitment to maintain the safety and security of the facility. We will continue to aggressively pursue and eradicate these individuals who choose to compromise the integrity of our profession.” Campaign finance reports indicate that Aramark contributed $10,000 to Mike Pence's 2012 gubernatorial campaign.

The Michigan Department of Corrections fined Aramark Correctional Services $98,000 in March for violating its contract to provide services to its prison inmates by employing workers who fraternized with inmates, making unauthorized menu substitutions and failing to prepare the correct number of meals. According to Michigan officials, the state corrections' department found a dozen instances of Aramark employees being overly-familiar with prisoners. Union officials charged one employee with having sex with an inmate, although corrections officials said that allegation was exaggerated, claiming the employee was merely caught kissing the inmate. Aramark's 3-year contract with Michigan DOC is worth $145 million. The state eliminated about 370 food services jobs at the prisons in order to save $12 to $16 million a year under the privatization contract.

Aramark's problems haven't been confined to Indiana and Michigan. The company has been accused of overcharging state governments in Kentucky and Florida, as well as facing criticism for skimping on food portions and food safety issues. A Kentucky prison riot was blamed on inmates' displeasure with the low quality of food Aramark provided. An investigation by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges found that food served to inmates in the Burlington County Jail in New Jersey was substandard and spoiled and frequently made prisoners sick with diarrhea and vomiting. Hedges wrote in his report:
Aramark, whose website says it provides 1 million meals a day to prisoners, does what corporations are doing throughout the society: It lavishes campaign donations on pliable politicians, who in turn hand out state and federal contracts to political contributors, as well as write laws and regulations to benefit their corporate sponsors at the expense of the poor. Aramark fires unionized workers inside prisons and jails and replaces them with underpaid, nonunionized employees. And it makes sure the food is low enough in both quality and portion to produce huge profits.
The company has been the subject of numerous labor complaints involving allegations that it fired workers for reporting unsanitary food conditions and a variety of wage claim disputes according to various news reports. Aramark has been under contract for many years to provide food services to the Marion County Jail, a contract which is reportedly being renewed this year. Aramark has contributed $1,300 to Sheriff John Layton's campaign committee. It's interesting how Democratic officeholders always seem to get a pass by labor bosses when they screw public employees with these privatization deals; it's only when Republicans do it that it becomes an issue.


Anonymous said...

Like the war on oil with contracts for eight years....from what regime was that? On successive President of what party? or what wars?

Indy Rob said...

why would this be different with any other food vendor? Contract/price would be about the same, employees would be paid about the same, same temptations, same results.

Not a big surprise, employees are probably paid as little as possible, same result would occur with other companies.

Anonymous said...

Aramark also has the food service contracts at the state pyschiatric hospitals -- Larue D. Carter Memorial Hospital, Logansport, Madison. None of the staff would touch the food. It was substandard, often uncooked, and would make the patients ill. The menu choices were also inappropriate for heavily medicated patients prone to choking. Cheap peanut butter can kill you.