Drug War Gulags and Slaves

Drug war exceptions can be the rule in US law. Chief among domestic drug war violators are drug rehabilitation facilities that recruit and provide drug addicts to businesses where they work for no pay. The jobs can include plucking chickens on poultry farms, working 80-hour weeks in senior care centers, or laboring for wealthy corporations like Exxon, Shell, and Walmart, minus any labor or health protections, benefits or cash. The Center for Investigative Reporting has examined the legality of the practice:

…the regulatory agencies and laws don’t really matter. The judges don’t really care. They don’t look into this. They think they’re doing, what, God’s work, or—you know, because sometimes there’s a big Christian aura over the whole thing, and required church attendance, required Bible study. And now go out and pluck chickens on an assembly line. […]

…a common theme among all of these programs is that they tend to be unregulated. They’re not licensed, they don’t have medical staff or other aspects to their program that would typically have to fall under regulation in these states. On top of that, many of them are Christian-based or faith-based, and many Christian-based programs in the United States are eligible for licensing exemptions from state to state. […]

“We forget the founders faced a situation in society where we had a lot of people who were held in the stockade or something, because ‘Oh, you violated the terms of your employment,’ or what have you…” […]

The 13th Amendment basically outlawed slavery in the United States. And it states that involuntary servitude is not OK, except essentially as a punishment upon conviction of a crime. And so when you have participants who are getting sent by courts to these programs, ostensibly for rehab and treatment for their addictions, what lawyers have told us is there’s an argument that that violates the 13th Amendment. Because not only sometimes are there no convictions in these cases yet, but a lot of the time, even if there are convictions, the courts are saying: this is not for punishment. This is to rehabilitate you. This is to provide treatment so that you can recover from your addictions and become a productive member of society. […]

California requires licensing and regulation for non-medically assisted drug rehabs. Under the DHCS system, slaves and indentured servants are not allowed to compete in the job market no matter how disgusting the job. With the advent of marijuana legalization serving to spotlight these activities, non-medical rehabs in the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Texas are being investigated or sued for illegal labor practices.

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