When a judge sent Shane Norrid to an addiction rehab program rather than to jail, Norrid thought he’d get the help he needed. Norrid packed his bags and traveled to Decatur, Arkansas, to begin a program he believed would change his life for the better. Instead, he landed in a human trafficking scheme built on the false promise of addiction treatment.
Norrid and hundreds of other individuals ended up at the Drug and Alcohol Recovery Program (D.A.R.P.) either because they were sent there by a court or went voluntarily for drug or alcohol treatment during probation. Instead of receiving counseling and addiction recovery services, however, they worked grueling hours for no pay, lived in inhumane conditions, and received little to no actual addiction treatment.
The ACLU of Oklahoma filed suit this week in federal court on behalf of seven plaintiffs, including Norrid. Each one has harrowing stories of forced, unpaid labor, dangerous conditions, and cruel treatment while in the D.A.R.P. program. All of them lived with untreated addiction and were forced to work at facilities where there was an available supply of drugs and alcohol.
The suit alleges that D.A.R.P. has been running an unpaid labor camp disguised as a rehabilitation center for the last decade. The plaintiffs were subjected to long days of physically-demanding labor, mostly contracted out to private corporations, doing work such as welding, plastic product manufacturing, and chicken processing. Many of these businesses, who knowingly benefited from forced labor trafficking, are also named as defendants in the suit, including Hendren Plastics, Inc., R&R Engineering Co., Inc., Simmons Foods, Inc., and Western Alliance, Inc. All of the participants’ pay was turned over to D.A.R.P. or its president, Raymond Jones. If they did not complete the program by working hundreds or thousands of hours, they were threatened with prison time.
D.A.R.P. offered very few services that could be considered legitimate addiction treatment. Participants were sent to one Alcoholics Anonymous meeting a week in a nearby town. Otherwise, most of the “treatment” offered by the program was nothing more than participants reading from a Twelve Step book together before or after their work shifts, without the guidance of licensed counselors or addiction recovery professionals.