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VOL. 39 | NO. 42 | Friday, October 16, 2015

Audit finds financial mismanagement in prison food program

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NASHVILLE (AP) - State auditors say financial mismanagement has put the future of a Tennessee prison food program in jeopardy.

The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/1PzZVyo) the comptroller's audit outlines problems with the Tennessee Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction Board, or TRICOR. That's a state inmate rehabilitation service that's independent from the Correction Department but provides millions of inmate-prepared meals to Tennessee prisons.

According to the audit, TRICOR lost $4 million because it doesn't have a written contract with the department for meals. So while TRICOR wants the state to pay $3.59 per meal, the department has only been paying $2.99. In July, it agreed to pay $3.15 but that still is not enough to cover costs, TRICOR says.

TRICOR admits firing its chief financial officer and controller earlier this year because they were "not performing their duties and overseeing their responsibilities to a satisfact ory level," according to TRICOR's response to the audit. TRICOR denies any intentional wrongdoing.

The audit outlines allegations TRICOR staff tried to mislead its board about the agency's finances.

"We have serious concerns about whether TRICOR's management has the ability to report accurate financial information," the audit states.

The audit also raises concerns about the quality and size of meals provided. The state has tried to save money by giving prisoners less food. TRICOR has tried to depict the change as a benefit but also acknowledges a chance for "prison unrest" because of a "drastic change in the food service program."

And the agency says it is impossible to provide healthy meals at the cost the department wants to pay.

TRICOR says it is evaluating "less nutrient dense" menus in order to reduce costs.

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