A prison food worker at a Jackson-area prison was fired Wednesday after she and am inmate were caught having sex in the kitchen, a Corrections Department spokesman said Thursday.
The incident happened shortly before 7 p.m., just after dinner at the Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center, where new inmates are sent before they are assigned to a longer-term prison.
“The allegation is that she was observed having sex with a prisoner,” who worked in the kitchen, department spokesman Chris Gautz said.
The Trinity Services Group worker was fired for “over-familiarity,” and the Michigan State Police were notified, he said.
“Prisoners have no ability under the law to consent to sexual contact,” Gautz said. “The Trinity employee could face charges, but that is up to the MSP and local prosecutor.”
Gautz said such conduct is "serious and completely unacceptable," because it "jeopardizes the safety of the prisoner, our staff, and the security of the facility." He said "the indvidual was immediately removed from the facility and will no longer be llowed to work at the prison."
The 40-year-old inmate is serving a five to 15-year sentence for unarmed robbery, state records show.
It’s the latest in a long line of incidents involving over-familarity, smuggling, and other issues since the Corrections Department privatized its food service, as a cost-cutting measure, in 2013.
Such instances were rare when the prison kitchens were staffed with state employees, who received higher pay and benefits but experienced far less turnover.
The Free Press reported in September that a Trinity worker was fired after she was caught kissing -- but not having actual intercourse -- with an inmate inside a kitchen cooler, also at Egeler.
In 2014, four female prison food workers employed by Aramark Correctional Services at Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia were fired for having inappropriate sexual contact with male inmates inside a walk-in cooler, officials said.
Aramark of Philadelphia, which replaced about 370 state kitchen workers in December 2013, ended its three-year, problem-plagued contract early and was replaced by Florida-based Trinity in 2015. Trinity signed a three-year, $158.8-million contract, but is in line for a $4-million raise, based on inflationary increases and the number of meals served, officials said in March.
Since taking over the contract, Trinity has been hit with $2.1 million in fines for contract infractions such as unauthorized meal substitutions, delays in serving meals, inadequate staffing levels and sanitation issues, among other problems.
As of the end of March, Trinity employees had received 132 "stop orders," banning them from prison property for firing offenses such as smuggling or over-familiarity. At the same point in its contract, Aramark workers had received 177 stop orders, officials said.