- Associated Press - Thursday, March 31, 2016

KINCHELOE, Mich. (AP) - Inmates at a second prison in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula have participated in a peaceful protest over the quality of food provided by a state contractor, an official said.

Demonstrations at Chippewa Correctional Facility took place Saturday through Monday, said Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz. They followed protests on March 20-21 at Kinross Correctional Facility, another Kincheloe-area prison.

Gautz told the Detroit Free Press (https://on.freep.com/1UEmRjb ) that food and other issues were the subject of the protest at Chippewa. He said nearly all prisoners in one wing refused to show up for meals.

“It’s definitely something the facilities took seriously,” Gautz said. “It is unusual in a high school or a prison, because there are different groups or cliques that form, to have everybody on the same page. It takes some coordination.”

Oldsmar, Florida-based Trinity Services Group replaced Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services as Michigan’s prison food contractor last year.

“The warden met with prisoners, talked with Trinity and sent out a message to the population on Monday addressing their concerns and about changes being made,” Gautz said. “Things were back to normal Tuesday morning after feeling their concerns had been met.”

A spokesman for Trinity said in an email Thursday that the company had no comment.

Lamont Heard, a Kinross inmate serving a life sentence for murder, told the Free Press in a telephone interview that the demonstrations were about food as well as complaints about a lack of ventilation and problems with overflowing toilets.

Gautz said officials are looking at making improvements.

Trinity’s three-year, $158 million prison food contract was approved in July after Gov. Rick Snyder announced that Michigan and Aramark had mutually agreed to end their troubled three-year, $145 million contract early. Aramark and the state cut ties after company-initiated talks about a possible billing increase and other issues.

Michigan had fined Aramark $200,000 for unapproved menu substitutions, worker misconduct and other issues.


Information from: Detroit Free Press, https://www.freep.com

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