Fowl play
October 4, 2017 11:10 PM   Subscribe

 
Holy fucking shit. I thought that I had hit peak outrage, but nope, something else comes along that is unbelievably fucked up.
posted by Literaryhero at 11:15 PM on October 4 [9 favorites]


I read the article after it was linked in the political catch-all thread and am glad to see it getting a discussion of its own because yes, holy shit..
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.
No, Jim, it's not the working 40 hours a week part that prompts the slavery comparisons. It's the part where you keep the wages their labor earns and threaten them with prison if they don't obey.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:29 PM on October 4 [91 favorites]


A juxtaposition: Jamilah King, writing for Mother Jones: “There’s a Pretty Good Chance Your American Flag Was Made by a Prisoner”
posted by Going To Maine at 11:30 PM on October 4 [8 favorites]


The ultimate goal for authoritarians is always free labor, performed under threat of violence. Always.
posted by The Whelk at 11:35 PM on October 4 [49 favorites]


Frig, Holes wasn't supposed to be an instruction manual!
posted by LSK at 11:57 PM on October 4 [9 favorites]


If "rehab" is the lie that gets the convicts to the farm, I wonder what fairy tale they're feeding the chickens.
posted by orange ball at 12:09 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


fucked up and bullshit. one of my people is at one of these plantations in a different state. 2 years at the for-profit vs 8 in state prison. annnd...they don't allow his (or anyone's) psych meds. the job is not a slaughterhouse, something much more mundane and safer. still...a lot like 'holes' if lars van trier made it.

the OK thing is just so far beyond the pale. my jaw dropped when i read the bit about stolen workmen's comp. i hope final legal outcome is decided at the 10th.

for fuck's sake, at least demand the unpaid wages of the un-convicted. last i checked, another word for un-convicted is innocent.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:09 AM on October 5 [14 favorites]


Fucking fucking fuck fuck fuck
posted by en forme de poire at 12:34 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


They tried to make me go to rehab
But I said cluck cluck cluck fuck fuck fuck
posted by Hermione Granger at 1:34 AM on October 5 [5 favorites]


Oh my fucking God.

That program, as well as everyone involved in it, need to burn.
posted by Samizdata at 2:13 AM on October 5 [4 favorites]


they don't allow his (or anyone's) psych meds

Why is that? It seems like it would go better for everyone if they didn't do this.
Probably it's because it's easier to ban all meds than it is to distinguish recreational drugs from them.
posted by thelonius at 2:17 AM on October 5 [5 favorites]


Why is that? It seems like it would go better for everyone if they didn't do this.

I assume because exercising control in a petty way that goes against common sense fuels their power trip.
posted by LSK at 2:43 AM on October 5 [20 favorites]


“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Noah Zatz, a professor specializing in labor law at UCLA, said when presented with Reveal’s findings. “That’s a very strong 13th Amendment violation case.”
. . .
Weekly Bible study is mandatory. For the first four months, so is church.
Oh, you Christians. Do you ever follow what that Jesus fellow said?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:29 AM on October 5 [41 favorites]


I wanted to come in here with just a throwaway joke of 'They tried to make me go to rehab, but I'said cluck cluck cluck' but ... holy shit ... this is sort of insane. I read this and... well... I can imagine at the start of things sitting back and thinking about how to teach someone a hard day's work - that they can still do that post substance issues AND council them on substance abuse sounds like a decent goal... but... This is straight up shadow factory second class citizen court loophole shit. I get pissed off when we do this stuff in US territories to non-nationals in industrial sweat shops - I feel the same way when we do this to folks just trying to avoid a prison sentence with NO real options.

If these folks were earning a fair wage, being paid, AND paying for participation in the program that would be one thing... but... This is forced labor, bunk housing, with the threat of imprisonment. This is torture. This is cruel and unusual punishment. This is like an ACLU nightmare.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:23 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


That is some f-d up shit.
(Edit) The contents of the article, not anyone’s comment.
posted by Gadgetenvy at 6:57 AM on October 5


How is it in any way possibly legal to have a state-run organization (legal system) force people to enter a program where church attendance is mandatory?

All the crazy slave labor shit aside - seriously - what the fuck is wrong with people that lets them think you can have the government force ANYONE into a religious-based program?

There's a lot more wrong here than a 13th amendment issue.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:02 AM on October 5 [10 favorites]


If anyone is surprised by this, they haven't been paying attention. Slavery for private profit has been a pillar of the American justice system since the abolition.

As far as church attendance goes, I suppose the argument from the State would be that they chose to enter the program and always had the option to accept the prison sentence instead.
posted by FakeFreyja at 7:05 AM on October 5 [15 favorites]


Of course this is happening in SW MO. *sigh*
posted by jferg at 7:09 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


> I suppose the argument from the State would be that they chose to enter the program

We offered them beatings or execution. They chose the beatings. Fair play!~
posted by I-Write-Essays at 7:20 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


I come from a strong tradition of work being therapeutic, and really, all that’s missing here is a catchy slogan. Might I suggest “Arbeit macht frei”?
posted by Slothrup at 7:49 AM on October 5 [14 favorites]


Between this and yesterday's story about state-sponsored elder abuse, I'm starting to have a clearer understanding of why folks have less faith in government than I do.
posted by explosion at 7:52 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


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 [Oklahoma] Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Over twenty years ago, I briefly worked for an Oklahoma treatment provider that received most of its funding from DMHSAS, and unless they've improved their operation immensely, I am not terribly surprised that they're ineffectual at keeping these sort of abuses from happening. Their data reporting system, by which we verified that we were in fact providing the services that we were contracted to, was pretty badly broken, and once they sent us a letter matter-of-factly stating that our funding would be cut off because we weren't providing the required number of service hours in our contract; in a state of some panic, I called them and pointed out that they were looking at the wrong number on our report, and it took them two white-knuckled weeks to get back to us to say, whoops, our bad. I was not terribly surprised to find out that the treatment center had gone out of business not long after I'd left. (They had other problems, but what social service agency doesn't?) I wonder if some of the people who might have gotten treatment there if they were still around ended up at this chicken plant instead.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:53 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


I am going to have to bring this up at work later. (I work at a mental halth non=for-profit that also offers inpatient detox and rehab.)
posted by Samizdata at 8:15 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


Between this and yesterday's story about state-sponsored elder abuse, I'm starting to have a clearer understanding of why folks have less faith in government than I do.

For-profit privatization of incarceration (and other social services, like education) is always a net negative because profit motives pervert the outcomes. (Edited to add "for profit" - there are good nonprofits out there.)

This is a trivial example compared to the article, but unemployment insurance in Wisconsin is managed by a private company. They are supposed to provide reimbursement for training programs and I have been working my way through the process since July. I was supposed to get a decision in September but I have not been able to get hold of someone for two weeks. W2 ("welfare") and Quest ("food stamps") are also (mis-)managed by private companies and the recipients are likely a lot more desperate than I am. (Also, I'm always the only white person in the waiting room. As usual, when Black people are disproportionately affected, no one cares.)
posted by AFABulous at 8:15 AM on October 5 [9 favorites]


It was started in 2007 by chicken company executives struggling to find workers.

Hey, executives, maybe the problem is your company's business model rather than a mysterious lack of interest by job candidates. Would YOU do this work in these conditions for what you're paying? Would you let your teenage kid work there? Jesus.
posted by desuetude at 8:27 AM on October 5 [13 favorites]


Exactly, "struggling to find workers" **ALWAYS** omits the last part of that sentence "at the conditions and pay we're offering".

Improve conditions or improve pay and you'll be able to find wokers.

Instead they go for slave labor, which isn't really surprising. Depressing, but not surprising. The very worst part of the 13th Amendment was the part that allowed indentured servitude as a punishment for crimes, it was a way to loophole in slavery and it has worked exactly as its authors intended.
posted by sotonohito at 8:31 AM on October 5 [19 favorites]


I'm curious about the racial breakdown of the "workers," although I think I know the answer. Everyone should watch the documentary 13th on Netflix, which explains how a lot of this exploitation came to be. Private companies need more workers, private prisons need more inmates = increased incentives to write bullshit laws and arrest people on bullshit charges.
posted by AFABulous at 8:34 AM on October 5 [4 favorites]


I can't even think of what to say. This makes me furious. FURIOUS.
posted by bluejayway at 8:46 AM on October 5


I'm curious about the racial breakdown of the "workers," although I think I know the answer.

"Most men sent to CAAIR are addicted to alcohol, meth, heroin or pain pills. They are usually young, white and can’t afford stays in private rehab programs."
posted by retrograde at 8:53 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


Private companies need more workers, private prisons need more inmates = increased incentives to write bullshit laws and arrest people on bullshit charges.

At the expense of the tax payer.

I realize am a lefty, but I think we should never allow prisons to be profit centers. Ever. I also think taking away a person's liberties should always be a last resort. Period. We need to reform drug laws and treat them as a health issue, not a criminal one, and we need to have the decisions on legality made scientifically, not politically.

I bet we could have one tenth of the people in prison that we do if we stopped putting people in jail for non-violent crimes or crimes that only hurt the offender.

It's too easy to exploit the poor or vulnerable (not criminals in this case, but an eerily similar story).
posted by cjorgensen at 8:59 AM on October 5 [5 favorites]


I realize am a lefty, but I think we should never allow prisons to be profit centers. Ever.

I would go further and say that prisons should not be allowed to recoup costs through labor or even forcibly use prisoners for public services. When we, as a society, decide to imprison somebody we should all bear the cost.

Also, does this scheme remind anyone else of the Warden's scheme in Shawshank Redemption?
posted by FakeFreyja at 9:46 AM on October 5 [7 favorites]


Janet Wilkerson had a problem. As vice president of human resources for Peterson Farms Inc., she was having trouble filling the overnight shift at her chicken processing plants. The hours were long. The pay was low. And there never seemed to be enough workers.

And like a typical HR ghoul, Janet didn't even consider offering higher wages or benefits.
posted by TrialByMedia at 9:46 AM on October 5 [9 favorites]


This is awful.
posted by Secretariat at 10:00 AM on October 5


Just more evidence for my theory that businesses that trumpet their religious nature are not to be trusted.
posted by TedW at 10:03 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


I would go further and say that prisons should not be allowed to recoup costs through labor or even forcibly use prisoners for public services. When we, as a society, decide to imprison somebody we should all bear the cost.

I won't go that far. Crimes that put someone in prison should be of the sort that they are general offenses against society as-a-whole. So I have no problem with the idea that someone's debt to society includes labor that upkeeps their prison, or even provides a public service. OTOH, I have a big problem with the idea that someone can be forced into servitude in order to make sure Popeye's can run another "$5 Big Box" promotion.
posted by parliboy at 10:08 AM on October 5


“For profit prisons shouldn’t exist” is not a lefty stance, it’s a basic moral and ethical stance anyone can understand. If you let people make money from locking people up they will find reasons to lock everybody up.
posted by The Whelk at 10:08 AM on October 5 [21 favorites]


Between this and yesterday's story about state-sponsored elder abuse, I'm starting to have a clearer understanding of why folks have less faith in government than I do.

I don't want to completely dismiss this reaction, but it's important to recognize that both this article and the article yesterday deal with state governments constructed and funded along Republican principles, which leaves them capable of being little else but providers of leverage for powerful private interests. Good state government is expensive and needs its citizens to recognize its legitimacy as well. Most Southern state governments are little more than a string of incompetent petty feudlings slavishly extracting resources from the poor to hand over to their real masters.

(Not to argue that Democratic state governments are glorious models of perfection, but you have a better chance of accomplishing something worthwhile with government if you fund the government and believe the government has some purpose beyond Keeping Those People In Their Place. Southern government is what you get when people stop believing in the value of government altogether.)

So when you read a story like this and lose faith in government...on the one hand, it's always important to keep in mind the limitations and potential vulnerabilities of government, but on the other, you're thinking just the way the Koches want you to.
posted by praemunire at 10:16 AM on October 5 [5 favorites]


praemunire: "on the one hand, it's always important to keep in mind the limitations and potential vulnerabilities of government"

Also, there may sometimes be the potential for stuff like this, "WA Attorney General Sues Private Prison Company Over $1 Per Day Wages at Immigrant Jail " (The Stranger, 2017/09/20):
After months of protests and hunger strikes at the Northwest Detention Center, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today his office is suing the detention center for its practice of paying inmates $1 a day or less for work inside the jail.

The lawsuit alleges both that GEO Group is violating state minimum wage laws and that it is unjustly profiting off of how little it’s paying inmates to do work for which it would otherwise have to pay employees the minimum wage. Ferguson said today he believes his is the first state attorney general’s office to ever bring “claims like this.”
It's unclear to me if this suit has the potential to succeed but I hope it does.
posted by mhum at 10:37 AM on October 5 [6 favorites]


Shamefully, I never knew how badly these bastards were treating people, despite knowing of them. What I don't understand is how people think that the law just doesn't apply to them. I mean, this place is in violation of Oklahoma statutes left and right.

Funny that the DAs of the state, who are equally complicit in sending people to programs like this, aren't making any grandiose announcements and drumming up publicity against the people who are systematically killing and disfiguring the poor like they inevitably do when the roles are reversed.
posted by wierdo at 10:45 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


The Washington AG is unusually aggressive and forward-thinking for being one of the smaller, less-well-funded AGs.
posted by praemunire at 10:56 AM on October 5


Shamefully, I never knew how badly these bastards were treating people, despite knowing of them. What I don't understand is how people think that the law just doesn't apply to them. I mean, this place is in violation of Oklahoma statutes left and right.
They may well feel that the law doesn't apply to them because nobody is willing to apply it.

I am highly inclined to believe that the claimed "Christian" nature of the program, far from being incidental, is a crucial part of the operation. Many Christian religious organizations do operate social service organizations which provide legitimately benevolent programs to their communities but governments, particular in conservative areas, are pretty gun shy about oversight and interference with any program that seems to be affiliated with a Christian church.

Also, if you want a bitter laugh.. try making it through this alternate-world version: "California judge offers man a choice -- prison or Muslim drug rehabilitation program," and think what a storm of national outrage and hair-tearing would result. But it doesn't, of course, because (a) that would never happen, (b) this is a (supposedly) Christian-affiliated program, and (c) it's taking place in jurisdictions (MO, OK) for which we already have exceedingly low expectations concerning the rights of those accused of crimes.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:06 PM on October 5 [7 favorites]


There are a lot of state-funded programs in the south with mandatory church attendence, ranging from "built into the program" to "the managers are attending church, so all of the members will be attending church, because we can't leave people unsupervised" and the reaction to questions or complaints is always, "who could possibly have a problem with people going to church?"

It's rampant in group foster homes and homeless centers; of course it's also applied to criminals. Everyone knows that the "unfortunates" and "misled" need more church in their lives.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:44 PM on October 5 [3 favorites]


Too bad we can't watch Janet Wilkerson can't come face-to-face with her Jesus in judgement.
Then we could all point and laugh as she dances her way to hell.
posted by BlueHorse at 2:51 PM on October 5




I didn't see a link elsewhere in the thread of OKC's paper of record's interpretation of the situation.
posted by kwaller at 8:16 PM on October 5


So, yeah, living in Missouri I just shared this on the Book of the Face. Waiting for someone I know who think us big city liberals just don't care about the plight of poor white people in rural areas to tell me how fucking great this program is.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:56 PM on October 5


Heh, it just occurred to me (thanks to Kid Charlemagne's comment) that normally you find very few white people of any income working in these chicken plants. Back when I was first living in the area, it was almost all Mexican immigrants. Just as I was leaving, people from Nicaragua and Honduras began arriving and working there and the Marshall Islanders who had come after the Mexicans were beginning to leave.

Basically, nobody who has other options works at the processing plants. Not because they mind hard work, but because it's shitty, boring, disgusting, and you have to work with sharp stuff and production equipment that can easily disable you. Far better to make tools, canning jars, tortillas, car parts, nails, or even in some other part of the chicken industry, like maybe a hatchery. Since they also refuse to raise wages enough to make up for conditions, they have super high turnover and often have difficulty filling positions despite fairly openly employing people who lack a US work visa.

So yeah, it shouldn't have surprised me one bit that Simmons especially, but any of them really, consider it "necessary" to use coerced labor, paid or no. I doubt in the main that they gave much if any thought to whether the work were actually getting paid or not, though it sounds like Simmons is/was more directly involved. Either way, from their perspective, it's nearly the only way to get workers that consistently show up.

The sad thing is that I can totally imagine a version of a program like this that could actually work in a relatively non-exploitative way, but then it wouldn't pay the people running it more than they were getting paid as high level managers at a chicken company or give them free labor to remodel their house.

Also, given how common it has been in Oklahoma for private prisons to bribe or come very close to bribing judges to sentence inmates to their facilities, I would be unsurprised if it turns out there is money changing hands to get "participants" assigned to a particular facility.
posted by wierdo at 5:42 AM on October 6 [3 favorites]


« Older The Right To Bear Arms Against Slave Revolts   |   But what do we need to know for the exam? Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments