This story was originally published by Reveal and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
A nationally renowned drug rehab program in Texas and Louisiana has sent patients struggling with addiction to work for free for some of the biggest companies in America, likely in violation of federal labor law.
The Cenikor Foundation has dispatched tens of thousands of patients to work without pay at more than 300 for-profit companies over the years. In the name of rehabilitation, patients have moved boxes in a sweltering warehouse for Walmart, built an oil platform for Shell, and worked at an Exxon refinery along the Mississippi River.
“It’s like the closest thing to slavery,” said Logan Tullier, a former Cenikor participant who worked 10 hours per day at oil refineries, laying steel rebar in 115 degree-heat. “We were making them all the money.”
Cenikor’s success is built on a simple idea: that work helps people recover from addiction. All participants have to do is surrender their pay to cover the costs of the two-year program.
But the constant work leaves little time for counseling or treatment, transforming the rehab into little... Read more