Inmate surveys show plummeting approval ratings of prison food in Kentucky since the state outsourced the work to a private company in 2005, creating unhappy prisoners that some believe have become a security problem.
In 2003, state inmates rated the food 5.84 on a scale of 1 to 10. By early 2009, that number had dropped to 3.24. The decline in inmate satisfaction was particularly steep at Northpoint Training Center in Boyle County, where prisoners rioted and burned much of the complex on Aug. 21.
State Rep. Brent Yonts, who has filed legislation that would cancel Aramark Correctional Services' $12 million annual contract with the state, said corrections officers, other lawmakers and inmates have all told him that unrest "over food" figured into the Northpoint riot.
In 2003, inmates at Northpoint rated the food a 6.13, but that number had dipped to 2.66 by early 2009.
Officials at the Philadelphia-based Aramark have said there's no evidence that the Northpoint riot was caused by anything but gang violence and anger over prison yard restrictions. Their food played no role in the riot, they said..
Kentucky officials have not yet said what led to the incident in which inmates burned and damaged buildings, several of which were a total loss. Eight guards and eight inmates suffered minor injuries.
The legislature's Budget Review Subcommittee on Justice and Judiciary is expected to get an update Thursday about conditions at Northpoint.
Inmates across the state who were surveyed often commented on small portions, cleanliness and food shortages.
"Get rid of Aramark, bring back the state," an inmate at Roederer Correctional Complex in LaGrange wrote in an anonymous 2009 survey obtained by the Herald-Leader under the Open Records Act.
Read more at Kentucky.com