In this decade, the private prison system is complete: corporations such as Coca Cola and KFC use prisoners as laborers, paying them nothing. It has been the dream of powerful corporations for about as long as indentured servitude has been a concept, and for as long as it has been frowned upon in this brief window of history where slavery is socially unacceptable.

A particularly revealing case of a corporation using private prison labor recently made headlines: stories involving the institution known as “CAAIR.”

CAAIR began in 2007, started by chicken corporation executives who couldn’t find workers willing to grind long hours pulling feathers and guts from slaughtered chickens. It stands for “Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery,” sometimes called the “Chicken Farm.”

It is a Christian rehab program for prisoners, that uses their free work to process chickens for one of America’s largest poultry corporations, who provide such entities as Wal-Mart and KFC with chicken.

There are few Christian values and certainly little rehabilitation at CAAIR: it’s more like slave labor disguised by good ole’ boy values, with judges citing the need to learn a work ethic to justify people being sentenced to work there.

If a prisoner works too slowly or tries to stop working due to an injury, they are threatened with prison time at the facility, according to people who experienced it. Many people have been injured on the job, with injuries ranging from disfigured hands from hanging chickens on metal shackles, to being burned with acid, to contracting infections and being injured with machinery.

One man who was sent there didn’t need rehab from any substance abuse, he simply violated his probation. “It was a slave camp,” Brad McGahey said. “I can’t believe the court sent me there.”

23 year old Brad McGahey was sent to a small rural Oklahoma courtroom in 2010, facing 1 year in prison for violating his probation.

“You need to learn a work ethic,” the judge condescendingly said. “I’m sending you to CAAIR.”

CAAIR is essentially a limb of a large poultry corporation: of Simmons Foods Inc., a corporation with a $1.4 billion annual revenue.

According to Read Frontier:

“They slaughter and process chickens for some of America’s largest retailers and restaurants, including Walmart, KFC and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. They also make pet food for PetSmart and Rachael Ray’s Nutrish brand.

Chicken processing plants are notoriously dangerous and understaffed. The hours are long, the pay is low and the conditions are brutal.”

“The programs promise freedom from addiction. Instead, they’ve turned thousands of men and women into indentured servants.

The beneficiaries of these programs span the country, from Fortune 500 companies to factories and local businesses. The defendants work at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Oklahoma, a construction firm in Alabama, a nursing home in North Carolina.”

So remember: the corporations as large as KFC, Wal-Mart, Coca Cola and others are so powerful and interconnected with the criminal injustice system that somehow they managed to get judges to sentence people to labor for them for free.

Can you imagine how much worse this relationship between corporate and governmental power can get? Lines are being drawn that could make the future a living hell for us.

(Image credit: Marel)