Opposed to privatizing food service in state prisons

November 19, 2004

Dear Editor:

I am opposed to the privatization of functions within the Corrections Department and other state agencies. I think Gov. Ernie Fletcher is an honest man but may be getting bad advice from his staff and outside advisers.

Anyone who has ever worked for state government will tell you that every department in the state is saturated with political appointees, usually in the top positions. This may not be all bad in some areas, but it is devastating in the Department of Corrections, the Military Department and the state police.

Having spent several years working behind the fence in an adult institution, I have some knowledge of the working of a prison. First, it is important to understand that inmates are humans just like you and I. They have basic needs that must be met: shelter, food and medical service. Take away any of these three, and you eventually will have trouble.


Mr. Fletcher is in the process of privatizing food service in state prisons. Common sense will tell you that an outside concern expects to turn a profit in order to provide a service.

For the past several years, the food service has operating at a barebones cost. The menus have been supplemented with produce grown by inmates at the institutions. It stands to reason that a private concern will have to reduce the amount of food available or the cost of labor to make a profit. Either way, the inmates will be affected.

I am concerned with the appointment of management personnel who do not have firsthand experience working with inmates. This was very prevalent in the last administration when the deputy commissioner of adult institutions had never worked the first day behind a prison fence. Some of the same problems continue with this administration. Some of the top leadership in some of the institutions and in Frankfort fall into this category.

I hope I'm wrong and that the programs being put in place save a lot of our tax money. I just hope they are not purchased with the life a prison employee.

Jack L. Shepherd


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