Saturday, November 18, 2017

Why Is Exploitation and Slavery Permitted in the United States?

Why Is Exploitation and Slavery Permitted in the United States?
by Angela Smith, HEAL National Coordinator

In recent news, individuals seeking help with drug addiction at local rehab facilities found themselves enslaved at a chicken processing plant in Missouri.[1]  This story is not unique, HEAL has received multiple reports from people being used for labor while seeking legitimate mental health services by unscrupulous profiteers who see their patients as nothing more than society's throwaways who will learn to contribute to society by creating profits for their overseers at the program/plantation.

HEAL has been investigating multiple complaints about similar practices at programs like Teen Challenge, Provo Canyon School, Q & A Associates, and Bethel Boys Academy for nearly 20 years.  We always recommend these violations be reported to labor regulators and the Department of Justice so they can be investigated and prosecuted.  Unfortunately, these violations are done under duress and often through coercive means.  If a victim reports, they are told they will never heal and never find legitimate work in the "real world".

People ask HEAL, if this is going on, why hasn't anything been done about it?  There are multiple factors involved.  The torture and coercion of clients to pay blind obedience to their masters at the program involves the tearing down, infantilization, learned-helplessness, and absolute desperation of the exploited individuals who are so traumatized by being tortured and enslaved that they can't psychologically process their own suffering and pain.  The fear is so outrageous that they remain silent in hopes to finally just be left alone. 

Those that do speak out are targeted for harassment, baseless lawsuits, and additional abuses (including death threats).  When you are dealing with people who have endless resources and friends in public office who are nothing but criminals in nice suits, and, you are a vulnerable member of society due to poverty, exploitation, or disability, you may decide the risk outweighs the benefit for yourself personally to take a stand.  This is why it is important to care about more than yourself if you want to change things.  Unfortunately, often these programs turn all their clients into snitches and junior overseers abusing those who are new to the program.  And, they want their clients to be totally self-involved, only worried about their own "advancement" in the system, with no regard for their fellow victims. 

But, there are more sinister reasons at play.  These programs either own or contract with other businesses to farm out the labor of their clients while receiving the rewards for that forced labor.  And, they use cult-like, coercive thought reform techniques to achieve obedience and subjugate their "clients".  They get away with it because there is little to no legitimate regulation of these facilities and programs. 

You will find in most states, if not all, that faith-based providers are exempt from any regulatory requirements.  In many states, even secular facilities are not effectively regulated.  Here's how the game is played...  There is a private residential school operating in Arizona that solely claims to be a private residential school in the eyes of the law.  Arizona does not regulate nor require any state oversight of such a program.  [2]  HEAL has called Utah regulators to complain about abuse at residential treatment programs operating in Utah.  Utah regulators have told us they rely on criteria such as whether or not a program is accredited by the Joint Commission or is eligible for federal Medicaid funding to determine whether or not it meets the state's requirements.  The Joint Commission relies on self-reporting and self-assessment and refers complaints back to the state regulators.  And, Medicaid relies on the Joint Commission.  So, it is a bit of a big run around.

Now, today, I was researching Timber Ridge School in Virginia at the request of a parent who contacted HEAL for assistance.  Timber Ridge School is accredited by the Council On Accreditation (COA), another private agency, like the Joint Commission that relies on fees charges to the programs they accredit to sustain themselves.  In addition, they also rely on the "good faith" of those they accredit to honestly self-report and self-assess when filling out COA forms and surveys to be rubberstamped for approval.  The most COA reports charging annually for a private facility or program to be accredited is $355,411.[3]  Now, that's just what they charge one program annually.  If someone told you they were "acting in good faith" and sent you a survey/report saying that they agree and meet your standards with a check for $355,000, would take their word for it?  HEAL wouldn't.  But, we have ethical standards which are grossly lacking in corporate America.  Apparently, most everyone else would.

So, we know COA takes tons of cash from the programs they "accredit" and which the government permits to act as a private "regulator" of the industry they serve.  They do not serve the public interest nor the public good, and, this is why we need to demand public oversight and accountability of all such entities and stop allowing private agencies to take blood money to keep silent about abuses while the public interest and public good is sacrificed.  But, how does the COA get approved as a recognized accreditation agency and how do they avoid accountability to public regulators as a result?

The COA has a lot of money.  Clearly, if they accredit thousands of programs and receive as much as $355,411 annually from any individual private program they accredit, they have lots of money.  What do they do with it?  And, whose interest is being served?  Well, COA partners with the National Association of Private Special Education Centers (NAPSEC).[4]  And, if you look at the California Lobbying Directory for 2017-2018, you will find the California Association of Private Special Education Schools (CAPSES).[5]  CAPSES was initially a part of NAPSEC and still claims some affiliation and partnership.[6]  So, do you think it is likely that COA through their partnerships is funneling money to lobbying firms to benefit the programs they accredit?  They consider the programs they accredit their clients, remember.

Beyond that, COA's board of trustees include Robert B. Shanks, Vice President of Legal International and Washington Operations for the Raytheon Company.[7]  Raytheon is a defense contractor.  So, you explain why on the board of a health accreditation agency is a Vice President of a defense contractor...  Waiting... 

Raytheon Company has been targeted for divestment because of its contribution to human rights violations around the globe.[8]  Now, a company that engages in such practices certainly isn't who you want on the board of a health care accreditation agency unless you support torture, abuse, and slavery, right?  

"Amnesty International identified the use of Raytheon-supplied "bunker buster" bombs in the targeting of civilian homes, among other targets, during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. According to OCHA, 2192 Palestinians were killed during the 50 days of Protective Edge, including numerous whole families. More than 20,000 housing units were destroyed, leaving more than 100,000 people homeless."  Source:

So, you see, we have a real problem.  Whether it is Raytheon or RAND Corporation or some other arm of the global corporate system of oppression, we are seeing gross human rights violations and a US government that would rather act like private contractors doing the bidding of their corporate masters for profit than protect the public interest and the American people. 

You need to be informed and protect yourself and your family from exploitation and modern slavery.  You can do this by not buying into the system and not subjecting your children and loved ones to exploitative private entities that lie to trick you so they can take your money and exploit your family.  You also need to take responsibility for being an informed citizen and voting accordingly.  Both major parties, the Democrats and Republicans, are guilty as sin.  We have to break the 2-party system.  Vote third party or run for office yourself.  Even if it is a local position, you can act as a voice for change in the corrupt system that is trying to turn the whole planet into a for profit wasteland while killing everyone they can in the process.

So, deception and exploitation by usurpers of the people's power is the reason more is not being done to stop fraud, exploitation, and abuse in residential programs for vulnerable populations including children and youth.  The only ones who can stop this are the ones who are willing to seek the truth, share it with everyone, and take real action.  Are you up to the challenge?  HEAL does our best.

[2] (p. 20)
[5] (p. 397)
[6] and