TRICOR stops providing prisoner meals, moves on

The leader of a recently criticized inmate rehabilitation organization tells The Tennessean that it will not be seriously impacted by termination of a contract for providing meals to Tennessee prisons.

The decision to eliminate the multi-million dollar program won’t be drastic for the Tennessee Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction, or TRICOR, said CEO Patricia Weiland. Instead, it’s one of a number of decisions aimed at improving the organization’s business model and bolstering a reputation earned through 17 years of success, Weiland argued.

“You asked why legislators should keep TRICOR going? My question is why would they even think of not?” Weiland said Friday, during an extensive interview with The Tennessean.
No lawmaker has questioned the mission of the organization, but they have questioned its financial management.

TRICOR provides jobs for people incarcerated in Tennessee. For the last five years TRICOR has employed roughly 60 inmates to run the Tennessee Cook Chill program — named for the process of producing and chilling food before it is shipped to its final destination — that has created millions of meals for the Tennessee Department of Correction.

The inmates working at Cook Chill account for a small portion of the roughly 1,250 to 1,350 offenders working in various TRICOR operations at any given time, Weiland said. TRICOR also employs 122 people as state workers, with a roughly $5.3 million annual payroll. Although the Cook Chill program will be eliminated, Weiland said TRICOR plans to move those 60 positions to other parts of its business.

“We were very successful before Cook Chill, we’ll be very successful after Cook Chill,” Weiland said.