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Oklahoma Vice: ACLU wants to talk to work camp participants after allegations of abuse

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Kevin Ledgerwood and Chance Hover, right, work out with weights at the Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery (CAAIR) rehab center in Jay. [Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman]
Kevin Ledgerwood and Chance Hover, right, work out with weights at the Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery (CAAIR) rehab center in Jay. [Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman]

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.

Another report by Reveal from the Center of Investigative Reporting uncovered allegations of worker's compensation fraud at CAAIR. 

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." 

The ACLU is asking people  to contact the affiliate for the state in which they were sentenced: www.acluok.org or   www.acluarkansas.org

So far, former CAAIR clients have filed two federal lawsuits against CAAIR and Simmons, claiming they were essentially treated as slaves. 

Related coverage

Some Oklahoma courts prescribe work at a poultry plant as alternative to incarceration

Related Photos
Kevin Ledgerwood and Chance Hover, right, work out with weights at the Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery (CAAIR) rehab center in Jay. [Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman]

Kevin Ledgerwood and Chance Hover, right, work out with weights at the Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery (CAAIR) rehab center in Jay. [Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-17d521d11c0aae7f4eac896ef38379e4.jpg" alt="Photo - Kevin Ledgerwood and Chance Hover, right, work out with weights at the Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery (CAAIR) rehab center in Jay. [Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman]" title="Kevin Ledgerwood and Chance Hover, right, work out with weights at the Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery (CAAIR) rehab center in Jay. [Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Kevin Ledgerwood and Chance Hover, right, work out with weights at the Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery (CAAIR) rehab center in Jay. [Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure>
Brianna Bailey

Brianna Bailey joined The Oklahoman in January 2013 as a business writer. During her time at The Oklahoman, she has walked across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to-south down Western Avenue, and once east-to-west, tracing the old U.S. Route 66.... Read more ›

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