Ohio: 2nd fine levied against prison food vendor

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 30, 2014 at 3:33 pm •  Published: July 30, 2014
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The state on Wednesday announced a second fine against the private vendor that took over the job of feeding inmates last year as the company defended its operations before a prisons oversight committee.

The $130,200 fine against Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services covered continued staffing shortages, unacceptable food substitutions and shortages and sanitation issues, including maggots observed in food service operations at five prisons this month and last, according to Ohio's July 23 letter to the company.

"There were and there are remaining concerns," Gary Mohr, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, told members of the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee.

Mohr emphasized that problems are largely limited to seven prisons. He said some of the fine will be used to increase the training Aramark employees receive. "What was going on was just not adequate," he said.

Mohr said Aramark has saved Ohio $13 million since September and likely prevented the state from having to close Hocking Correctional Facility in southeastern Ohio. The Aramark contract is on track to save Ohio more than $16 million next year, Mohr said.

The state levied a $142,000 fine against Aramark in April.

John Hanner, president of Aramark Correctional Services, defended his company's record in Ohio to the committee, saying food delays and substitutions have happened less than 1 percent of the time.

Afterward, he said the company is committed to improving its Ohio operations.

"Ninety-nine percent of the time our people are doing a great job," Hanner said. "These are Ohio citizens that we've hired. These people come to work every day and do a great job under trying circumstances."

The quality of food has gone down since Aramark began work last September and food service concerns are more significant than in the past ten years, Joanna Saul, chief of the oversight committee, said in earlier testimony Wednesday.

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