December 20, 2014

Elyria
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State prisons privatize meal service

COLUMBUS — Ohio is turning over the feeding of its approximately 50,000 prison inmates to a private company in an attempt to save $14 million annually in the face of looming budget deficits, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction announced Friday.
Philadelphia-based Aramark won the two-year contract with a bid to spend about $3.61 per day per inmate, the state said.
The announcement came almost exactly two years after Gov. John Kasich signed a bill into law meant to reduce the prison population to save millions. Instead, the state says the numbers are growing beyond its own estimates, one of several reasons it’s looking for new savings.
The state could house as many as 52,100 inmates by the end of the next two year budget cycle in June 2015, JoEllen Smith, a Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman, said Friday. That’s 1,200 above projections.
That’s also several thousand inmates above figures estimated by the state in 2011 as the overhaul law was being debated. That estimate said Ohio would house as few as 47,000 by inmates by 2015 if the bill passed.
The prison system is trying to figure out why the population is growing in spite of the law and what can be done about it, Smith said.