Oklahoma Vice: ACLU wants to talk to work camp participants after allegations of abuse
American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in Arkansas and Oklahoma are investigating reports of abuse at the Jay-based work camp Christian Alcoholics and Addicts in Recovery, or CAAIR.
The Oklahoman first reported earlier this month on Oklahoma courts sending drug-addicted defendants to work gutting chickens for the Arkansas-based company Simmons Foods Inc. through CAAIR and a similar program in Tahlequah called the DARP Foundation. Clients in the CAAIR and DARP programs work at the poultry plants in exchange for room and board and a chance to avoid prison.
- Related to this story
- Article: Some Oklahoma courts approve work at a poultry plant as drug sentencing alternative
- Article: Oklahoma drug court to review use of work-based diversion program
- Article: Controversial work-camp recovery program has its critics, but supporters say it works
- Article: ACLU claims Oklahomans forced to live in squalid conditions at court-sanctioned work camp
- Article: Former clients say work camp offers no counseling for people battling addiction
- Video: Does working at poultry plants fight addiction?
According to Reveal, CAAIR admitted to keeping workers’ compensation insurance payments from workers who were injured in the poultry plans.
“CAAIR is so pale an imitation of actual rehabilitation that it cannot be considered rehabilitation at all. By sentencing people with addiction to unpaid labor, courts are effectively conscripting the people they claim to be helping into indentured servitude," Brady Henderson, Legal Director, ACLU of Oklahoma said in a statement. "This practice is a clear violation of multiple laws, is likely unconstitutional, and is certainly morally reprehensible. The ACLU is undertaking a serious investigation into these crimes and encourages any victims of this unlawful scheme to contact us immediately."
So far, former CAAIR clients have filed two federal lawsuits against CAAIR and Simmons, claiming they were essentially treated as slaves.