Corrections: More Mich. than Aramark workers have been fired for smuggling drugs into prisons

Gary Heinlein
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — More state workers have been dismissed for trying to smuggle drugs into prisons than employees from food contractor Aramark Correctional Services, according to information released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Since Jan. 1, 2012, 10 state employees have lost their jobs for trying to smuggle contraband into state prisons, Corrections Department spokesman Russ Marlan said. It compares with two Aramark food services employees who have been accused of smuggling drugs into the state’s prisons since the food service giant took over operations in December.

Three state workers were fired and seven quit prior to being fired in the past two-and-a-half years, Marlan said. The Aramark-run food service is more than nine months old.

The Department of Corrections provided the information after saying Tuesday that drug smuggling is not unique to Aramark employees.

The development comes after legislative Democrats criticized the Snyder administration Tuesday after a male Aramark kitchen employee at a St. Louis prison was arrested by State Police following an investigation in which 39 packets of illegal drugs and tobacco were found in inmates’ possession. Marlan said the drugs included heroin, cocaine and marijuana.

Another Aramark employee worker was arrested in March after he allegedly was caught smuggling drugs into the G. Robert Cotton prison at Jackson. He later pleaded guilty.

About 90 Aramark employees have been banned from state prisons over an array of issues.

Gov. Rick Snyder said Tuesday the St. Louis food service worker arrest is a concern.

“There are a number of issues in the past,” he told reporters after a campaign event, “and the issue is how do we make sure those aren’t continuing issues.”

In July, Snyder said the administration would continue the Aramark contract, but the company agreed to pay a $200,000 fine. A portion of the money is to pay Edwin Buss, a former Indiana prisons chief hired to act as the independent overseer of the food service contract, according to the Snyder administration.