Feedback: Reader Responses

Last week's cover story about Michigan's and Ohio's prison kitchens ("Something still stinks in Michigan and Ohio's prison kitchens," Feb. 17) prompted an email from a reader identified as E. Cissell, who wrote:

I completely agree with this week's feature story. I personally have served time in Michigan's Oakland County Jail (OCJ), about nine months or so, intermittently, spanning from the years 2008 through 2013.

Aramark also ran OCJ's kitchen.

My first few times going to OCJ weren't that bad as far as food quality and portions. But the more and more I visited, the more things worsened. Seriously, the problem grew at an exponential rate. My last stay there, the dinner consisted of two lousy, skimpy sandwiches and, if I recall correctly, a tea (which was referred to as "Katrina water") along with one fruit. The meal quality and portions were by far subpar to that of a daily balanced caloric intake.

During my summer '10 stint, I earned a spot working in the kitchen — which was a complete blessing due to the fact you could eat as much as you wanted per shift! Often the meals were overcooked too, due to a complete lack of quality control, lack of inmate-kitchen staff training, and lack of integrity. Frequent were the steamed vegetables equivalent to a sort of mush. Sanitation, ha, well, it too lacked standards. There were roaches. They were everywhere. Drop a piece of biscuit and watch them flock. Drop a cookie and watch them fight. They lived in the oven, floors, walls, almost ubiquitous in nature. I even found a roach in my food once. Some of the dishwashers would just forcefully push the trays through the machine. There were also rats, which we would catch when we could in pop bottles that you could get from commissary. We would place some peanut butter (also from commissary) in the bottle and wait until the rat climbed out of the wall and into the bottle. That helped pass the time.

Please understand, that for those of us who were "privileged" enough to afford it, the commissary was the only other secondary source of food.

The story also prompted some commentary online. A user named Harry Palmer posted:

Maybe the problem wasn't that food service being provided by "expensive" state employees. Maybe it'd be better for the state to reduce the number of prisoners they're feeding.

It also spurred some interesting commentary on our Facebook page. Drew Prosch-Jensen used the story's quote from Michigan Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Gautz to make a point:

"We've had a lot of positive feedback in terms of quality, and feedback in terms of fewer number of complaints."

Do all Michigan government spokespeople sound like this since "business" took over the state government? I mean, this is the same crap-sounding BS that they fed us about Flint for a year-and-a-half.

Reader Bryan W. Conway made a point many others did, a small and sarcastic one:

Try not going to prison and your food quality and choices will improve.

Reader Dan DeSloover pointed out:

The point is that there are people who are completely responsible for other people. Or if you prefer, there are people that are entirely dependent on other people for everything.

That the people responsible have shirked their responsibility, all the way up the chain? And all the while the masters have become rich and fat off of starving and poisoning people? When did that become a fashion?

I don't think that the average person gets it. Public money was poured into private coffers in order to feed prisoners. Private industry pulled food money off of the top in the name of profit and fed the prisoners leftover, rotten crap instead of food.

One more time, elite assholes tied to Snyder shorted prisoners sufficient sustenance and at the same time provided rotten food to prisoners: your own brothers and sisters according to the teachings of Jesus.

No judgment there; any guilt you feel is your own.

We saw an interesting reaction to our slideshow "23 dishes you have to eat in Detroit before you die." Michele Dawn Saint Thomas posted:

Ya know, I am sick and tired of this "before you die" stuff. Here is a better idea, why not say: 23 dishes you can enjoy in Detroit? Or that makes you appreciate life in the Motor City?