It’s almost a sure bet when you are confronted with the name of an organization with word Christian in it, especially when it’s the first word in the name that you will find something awful behind it. Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery, proof of that, and the story behind it smacks of a criminal operation, that is if the allegations only turn out to be half as horrendous as the testimony suggests they are.
The story comes from Reveal. and it’s shocking, it details abuses perpetrated, allegedly by a group of, wait for it, “Christian businessmen”. When Christian means the opposite of what you were taught it church. These individuals, businessmen hatched a plan for rehabilitating drug offenders, and non-drug offenders alike. The rehabilitation took the form of working the inmates forced into the program in Simmons chicken processing plants and other like for no money. That is to say money was paid but no to the worker. CAAIR got the money and kept it. The hours were and are long, all week long.
The program did have benefits but they never benefited the people that were sent there. It benefited the judges that sentenced the penny ante offenders, since the state mandated by law that drug offenders receive rehabilitative services while incarcerated. The Benefit to the county and state was twofold since the county didn’t pay a cent to CAAIR. CAAIR made out like a bandit, and that’s allegedly what they are/were. They took the workers wages every dime of it and used it to fatten their bottom line.
They used the prison/slave labor to build the dormitories on the “campus”, to remodel the master bedroom in Janet Wilkerson’s home. Janet is one of those fine upstanding businessmen that created this hell on earth.
Simmons Foods now is so reliant on CAAIR for some shifts that the plants likely would shut down if the men didn’t show up, according to former staff members and plant supervisors. Credit: Shane Bevel for Reveal
The men also perform free labor for CAAIR’s founders, family and friends. A group of men said they helped remodel the Wilkersons’ master bedroom. Another said he helped one of their daughters pack boxes and move. Still others worked on an egg farm owned by the Wilkersons’ other daughter. The program told the courts that it was community service, according to employees.
The Oklahoma state law requires the rehabilitation centers to be licensed, and to have certified, licensed employees on staff. CAAIR has only one such individual at the time the story was written. Surprisingly it’s not licensed, but it keeps getting no inmates with little to no trouble.
When the Oklahoma Legislature created the state’s drug court requirements 20 years ago, it was part of a growing realization nationwide of the costs – both financial and human – of handing down long prison sentences for drug-related charges.
In drug court, judges are required to put defendants through treatment rather than prison. Follow the rules, and defendants can have their cases dismissed.
Lawmakers wanted to ensure the quality of treatment, so they wrote an important provision into state law: Drug courts must use treatment providers inspected and certified by the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
But affordable treatment is in short supply. Drug court defendants have waited up to nine months for a bed in a residential treatment facility, meanwhile relapsing or languishing in jail. As a result, some courts turn to uncertified programs such as CAAIR, even though it might violate the law, according to the law’s authors. . .
. . . In Pontotoc County, Judge Thomas Landrith sometimes uses CAAIR in place of certified treatment. He said there’s never a wait list, and it costs the courts and state nothing.
Tulsa’s drug court, which sends the most defendants to CAAIR, said the law permits judges to use uncertified programs, as long as it’s not for treatment.
“The referral is to assist the participants in developing good job skills, life skills, work ethics and personal care skills,” said Vicki Cox, court administrator. “Participants are not sent to CAAIR for drug or alcohol treatment.”
But Reveal found that Tulsa’s drug court staff repeatedly described CAAIR as treatment in court records. Cox dismissed that as a record-keeping error.
Yep just a small record-keeping error, nothing to see here folks just move along. Unless I miss my guess, Miss Vicki Cox, doesn’t seem to care at all about the gross violations of State and Federal Law. Just a little book keeping problem. The article goes on to say no judge has let a small thing like the squeezing of court funding stop him or her from sentencing “offender” to shit holes like CAAIR. Not one has even had their wrist slapped for doing so.
So why is this and other programs so successful for all but the offender?
For one it’s cheap labor for many companies, and two, the companies that utilizes (enables) these labor camps have great difficulties filling positions that require long hours of back breaking labor at substandard wages. Really low pay many of the companies cannot find workers desperate enough to work for what little they offer and especially second and third shifts. Who are those low wage leaders? Fortune 500 companies. Really? Yes.
The beneficiaries of these programs span the country, from Fortune 500 companies to factories and local businesses. The defendants work at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Oklahoma, a construction firm in Alabama, a nursing home in North Carolina.
Perhaps no rehab better exemplifies this allegiance to big business than CAAIR. It was started in 2007 by chicken company executives struggling to find workers. By forming a Christian rehab, they could supply plants with a cheap and captive labor force while helping men overcome their addictions. (no evidence was offered to show addictions were overcome, or they that was even an issue)
At CAAIR, about 200 men live on a sprawling, grassy compound in northeastern Oklahoma, and most work full time at Simmons Foods Inc., a company with annual revenue of $1.4 billion. They slaughter and process chickens for some of America’s largest retailers and restaurants, including Walmart, KFC and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. They also make pet food for PetSmart and Rachael Ray’s Nutrish brand. (a list of companies that are now dead to me).
Chicken processing plants are notoriously dangerous and understaffed. The hours are long, the pay is low and the conditions are brutal.
Men in the CAAIR program said their hands became gnarled after days spent hanging thousands of chickens from metal shackles. One man said he was burned with acid while hosing down a trailer. Others were maimed by machines or contracted serious bacterial infections.
Those who were hurt and could no longer work often were kicked out of CAAIR and sent to prison, court records show. Most men worked through the pain, fearing the same fate.
“They work you to death. They work you every single day,” said Nate Turner, who graduated from CAAIR in 2015. “It’s a work camp. They know people are desperate to get out of jail, and they’ll do whatever they can do to stay out of prison.”
If you’re thinking that the benefits are rather lopsided you’re on the right track. What’s also lopsided is that those that are positioned and paid to oversee this and other schlock operations simply don’t have a moral compass. They lack empathy. Thankfully the ACLU is looking into “this little thing of ours”. Perhaps Miss Vicky and several judges will get a chance to experience some rehab of their own. Not in one of these hell holes but perhaps learning from the inmates how terrible the conditions are, and that they are partially to blame for what happened to these people.
But here’s the real kick in the ass, it comes from Jim Lovell: CAAIR’s vice president of program management, said there’s dignity in work. “If working 40 hours a week is a slave camp, then all of America is a slave camp,” he said.
Really Jim? No, I’m not going to let you get a way with straw manning this one. You see Jim, just like you millions of American’s get paid for the work they perform, unlike the poor unfortunates, that fall into your concentration camp. And that’s the difference paid labor, at will employment, organized labor, all pay the worker, and thats not slavery. It’s employment. When you Jim, and you do, steal their wages, that’s slavery pure and simple.