by Willie Coe
Greetings, world! I am Willie Coe, a Georgia Department of Corrections POW. I am held captive on the Hays State Plantation in Trion, Georgia. This is an establishment for penal infractions and is operated by the Georgia DOC.
One major flaw is that its food service is operated by the immense Aramark Food Services, which is rooted in motels, airplanes, Amtrak etc., but most of all the prison industry. It is inconsistent with state regulations and violates almost every health, nutrition and sanitation guide to the T.
Aramark services the prison population, staff dining and visitation room through a program called iCare. It is an enormously huge conglomerate that has found its way to Georgia’s corrections industry along with the CCA, Securus Tech, JPay, Keefee and Access Secure Pak. Now that the foundation is set … let’s begin.
Aramark serves pre-cooked, freeze-dried, dehydrated, processed and mechanized meals and uses the DOC offenders to operate its company with free labor. The offenders cook, serve and clean under DOC’s supervision and Aramark maintains a skeletal staff of less than five employees in total, and one at any given time.
The prison recently had an audit, which it failed in its food service department. Why? Here are my own observations. Due to the fact that I’m a cook and this is my second time within two years at this facility, where last time I was a baker, and due to my outside restaurant experience, along with working in kitchens throughout my 15 and a half years of prison, I believe I’m qualified to make fair and accurate judgments:
1) No hairnets or face covers. 2) No gloves. 3) Grime filled tray machine. Toxic odor. 4) Clogged drains in tray room, pot sink, cook areas, serving lines and utility closet. 5) Molded and fungi-lined walls. 6) No sanitation cleanser in pot sink. 7) No light bulbs in coolers. 8) Broken hot boxes; only three of six work. 9) Trash piled at back doors, including slop buckets, for more than five hours at a time. 10) Aramark employees understaffed; a total of five with two being supervisors. 11) DOC prisoner workers untrained. 12) Falsely documented OJT paperwork. 13) One cook overseeing five to nine stoves. 14) Un-clean restroom. 15) No table or chairs in designated prisoner eating and drinking area. 16) Non-working aisles on serving lines. 17) Unwashed and stained cup racks and holders. 18) Roach infestation. 19) Calcium, lime and rust build up in tray room and pot sink. 20) Protocol regarding diets and vegan meals violated.
And there are many, many more infractions, too many to list here. This is just my observation. Worst of all, the prisoners are clueless to this hazardous environment because 95% of them are between 18 and 25 years of age and have never been employed in their lives.
Recently in early 2018, I read an article in Prison Legal News about Aramark’s contract with the Oregon Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to service the state’s entire population of a little over 50,000 offenders in 31 plantations for $60 million annually.
Aramark was sued by the department for embezzlement. They had been charging $1.33 per meal that only cost $1.21. Aramark paid Oregon a little over $250,000. My comrade Blaqman Seer has located information where other states have filed class action law suits against them as well.
I don’t know the status of Hays State Plantation vs. Philips State. I’ve heard they’re in Baldwin State now as well. It seems that they have their eyes set to sink their teeth into Georgia’s Red Clay. Rogers State is an actual prison industrial complex where offenders farm and till the land as a part of their sentence for zero dollars. This plantation provides beans, canned goods, milk etc. for every Level 1 through 5 prison within the state, including Hays. So what is Aramark really up to?
Ask them about the Tyson chickens and Ball Park franks, hot dog buns, chocolate chip cookies etc. that are ordered but never distributed to the population.
The kitchen is supervised by one to three Aramark staffers, assisted by nine to 16 prisoners with each of four cooks, two in the tray room, 12 in the pot sink – all these workers working seven days a week and 16 hours a day, which is totally against the labor laws of this state, not to mention the Corrections Standard Operational Procedure guidelines.
Though it isn’t by force, there just isn’t anyone on the roster capable of proper diligent work performance. The offenders wanting to work and submitting resumes are either being placed on hold or can’t meet the status quota. I just don’t know the reason. There need to be at least 20 personnel along with three Aramark staffers at all times, and one prison security guard.
On any given day I arrive at 2 a.m. and prep myself for cooking. I cook and clean as I go. I cook breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I do my own prep and sanitation, unless I pay someone a cheeseburger to aid and assist me. In between my duties, as I cook, I wash trays in the tray room, pots in the pot sink, serve the line, do trash runs, clean walls and coolers, sweep, mop, and rescue Aramark in any and all crisis moments – like when food is running low or juice is needed on the serving line or even making diet trays for diabetics or renals.
I clean and prep for the following day, train prisoners in various stations, make sack lunches, take out the trash and serve trays. I leave at closing, which is anywhere between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. I’m stripped searched and am not allowed to leave with even one sack lunch.
Let it be known that anything over eight hours is unconstitutional (I’m assuming). But it’s labeled as voluntary. The work is so constant and demanding that there’s no option but to complete the duty and be done with it.
I come into my dorm, take my shower and fall asleep instantly until 1:30 a.m. when I do this entire routine all over again. With no pay!! Every single day of the week. Unless I refuse, which has been happening a lot, often with myself. But when I do this, it’s so much chaos and disarray that I’m begged to report in. Sounds wild, doesn’t it?
My Offender Management Schedule (OMS) is kitchen worker from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Those are the hours where I can’t refuse without disciplinary action. But the reason I do this is to gather evidence, which I have obtained but I need and want more. And also because I’m serving a life sentence and the cell block is in constant chaos and turmoil.
I do it because of the 34 months that I spent locked behind cell doors and all of the terrible meals that I received due to another inmate being heartless. I do it because of my diligent, hardworking ethics.
I’m tired mentally and physically. So is everyone else around me – from prisoners to Aramark employees to security staff alike. Aramark has over-served its purpose here. Their services are no longer needed in this community.
Never in my 15 ½ years in the Georgia DOC have I witnessed such atrocious and manipulative use of prison labor. Georgia State Prison in Reidsville doesn’t event possess a kitchen and didn’t have as many technical difficulties as Aramark.
Aramark, please leave us alone. You don’t even pay for our hard labor and back breaking work that you earn hundreds of thousands of dollars off of.
I’ve done this for seven days a week for at least six months and counting. Enough is enough. We’re coming for you! Leave now! Goodbye!
With sincere indignation,
Send our brother some love and light: Willie B. Coe, 1122906, Hays SP, 777 Underwood Dr., Trion, GA 30753.