I usually plan out my meals with a lot of energy and joy. For me, preparing a great meal is almost as much fun as eating it. But a recent article made me really realize just how lucky I am to be in that position. The choice to eat healthy and flavorful meals isn’t something that everyone can partake in. And the article presented a group of people who are suffering from big business forcing choices onto them.
The article took a harsh look at a company called the Keefe Group. The Keefe Group sells food within prisons. The author is writing from the perspective of someone who’s living with their influence constantly hanging over his head. As a prisoner within the current jail system he’s had to deal with a lot of managerial issues. However, it’s really only the Keefe Group which seems to raise actual anger within him. The more I learned about the Keefe Group the more I could see why that’s the case.
The big problem is that the Keefe Group operates as a monopoly within prisons. They’re a food service company that is usually contracted with in order to serve auxiliary functions to the main meals. Basically, they’re there to provide a bit of extra snacking or flavor in between real meals. It’s clear from looking out at the world that this isn’t really how our culture works with empty calories though. Junk food usually is the biggest source of calories for most people during the day. Prisoners deprived of their favorite junk food and of distractions in general will usually get pretty desperate for empty calories. So desperate that they’re easy to separate from almost any percentage of their income. Prison work programs don’t pay much. But the Keefe Group is happy to push up their prices to match whatever someone can afford. The fact that the Keefe Group’s contracts don’t allow for competition means that they can do what every monopoly does. They push prices up to an absurd amount while lowering quality. The Keefe Group is well aware that competition cannot exist due to the nature of their contracts.
I think it’s plain that the Keefe Group needs to be pulled back a little. Possibly by bringing in competition or possibly by adding in some better prison funded dessert options. But no matter how it happens, it needs to occur for the sake of prisoner’s health.
Learn more: http://www.prisoncensorship.info/article/fight-keefe-food-group-corruption/
Keefe group is conducting a review of the prison system due to the pending conviction of a corrections officer for corruption charges. They feel the no-bid contracts need to be eliminated by the Mississippi Department of Corrections so better deals can be secured. The task force consists of five members and they are giving Governor Phil Bryant twelve initial recommendations. The group was appointed by Bryant following the federal corruption charges filed against businessman Cecil McCrory and the former Commissioner of Corrections Christopher Epps. The charges were regarding prison contracts and both men have pleaded not guilty. Visit The Dispatch to know more about Keefe Group.
If the recommendations of the task force are accepted six contracts will have to placed for competitive bids. Three of the six contracts are with the Management and Training Corporation in Utah who handles Mississippi prisons, two provide inmates with medical services and are with Health Assurance LLC based in Jackson and the final contract is for commissary services provided to prisons in Mississippi by The Keefe Group. The recommendation of the task force to have all contracts go through a bidding process. They also believe a committee needs to determine if the state should continue its practice of using private companies. Read more news on Tampa Bay Times
Epps was the commissioner for a period of twelve years. He resigned on November 5th from a job earning him $132,000 per year and the indictment from federal prosecutors was received the next day. Both Epps and the former state representative McCrory were charged. Prosecutors state beginning in 2007 Epps steered prison contracts towards companies McCrory was affiliated with. One of McCrory’s companies called G.T. Enterprises received a contract in 2007 for commissary services. In 2008 the services were taken over by The Keefe Group after their parent company purchased G.T. Enterprises.
The commissary system allows families to give inmates money to purchase items such as candy bars or combs. The items are generally delivered within a few days. At one point in time the commissary system was run without the use of a private contractor. The consensus of opinion is the commissary duty should be resumed by the department since the exorbitant prices have become burdensome for the inmates. Visit: https://www.kununu.com/us/keefe-group
I was surprised to see a website asking for participants in a class action suit against Global Tel-Link (GTL) that called for information from people who used the company’s inmate calling services to connect with a loved one in a California jail or prison. I had heard about the FCC’s decision to limit the rate for calls to 25 cents per minute, however, I didn’t realize that it only applied to interstate calls, not to intrastate phone calls. This hardly seems fair since it seems that inmates in California prisons would be making the majority of their calls to family that lived in California.
A press release in which GTL expressed concern at the new regulations made little sense. In a report by Law360, the company spokesperson said that inmates and their loved ones would have “the lowest quality of phone service or no phone service at all” because of the rate caps. Is GTL saying that they would lower the quality of their service, or are they implying that another carrier, one that would accept the lower rates, would take over their contracts?
The ACLU can’t imagine GTL providing service that is any worse than what they provide right now. Judging from the complaints posted online, people only use GTL because they have no other choice. To learn more, watch the YouTube video that explains the alleged wrong doings by Global Tel.