Drug court trouble
Tulsa panel needs to get a handle on questions about the CAAIR facility
Recent news reports about a Delaware Countybased nonprofit that accepts Tulsa County drug court clients are disturbing and bear closer scrutiny.
Reveal, a project of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting, reports that most clients at CAAIR — Christian Alcoholics and Addicts in Recovery — are required to work at chicken processing plants without pay, except for room and board.
Reveal also reported that clients weren't offered substance abuse treatment beyond 12-step programs and Bible study; and, if hurt on the job, they were denied adequate medical care but CAAIR kept their workers compensation payments.
One resident of the area told the Tulsa World the CAAIR facility is referred to locally as the “slave farm,” which is a harsh term, but one that should get the attention of local drug court officials.
A spokeswoman for the Community Service Council of Tulsa, which administers the county's drug court program, said Tulsa County has had “very positive results” with CAAIR and hadn't received the sorts of complaints detailed in the Reveal report, but that it will reconsider its use of the facility going forward.
We support drug courts because they make sense. People whose criminal acts are driven by addictions don't need incarceration. They need help breaking their addictions, and they need to be put back into the working world. Thus, instead of being tax consumers who fill state and private prisons, they become self-reliant working taxpayers.
But that good principle does not cover working people without wages or workers compensation protections.
The Community Service Council of Tulsa needs to get this right before it damages a valuable program that should be a bright spot in Oklahoma's corrections mess, not an embarrassment.
CAAIR has a sprawling, grassy compound near Jay in northeastern Oklahoma. The one-year diversion program mainly relies on faith and work to treat addiction.