Chop or get Locked Up

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[Abuse] [Prison Labor] [Arkansas]

Chop or get Locked Up

Here in the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC), us kaptives are forced to do arbitrary strenuous field labor known as "hoe squad" with no pay and under the threat of punitive-isolation for refusing to work. The work done on hoe squad is arbitrary and serves absolutely no purpose other than to physically exert us kaptives and so the pigs can try and get one of us to fall out from exhaustion so they can lock us up in isolation. On hoe squad we are forced to stand nuts to butts in a line, each with a hoe, and chop the ground as we move the line backwards, peeling the grass back as we go, creating a "wind-row" of grass and mud/dirt/rocks/etc. Then we have to pull back as we chop, rather than hitting it and letting it lay. This is very physically exerting as the wind-row gets extremely heavy. This sometimes causes you to miss some grass because you have to stay with the line and you are struggling to pull the wind-row back, which is most difficult for the kaptives in the middle of the line due to shifting. If you miss grass two or three times the pigs "call the truck" on you, meaning a pig in a truck pulls up, cuffs you, and takes you to isolation, even though your clothes are drenched in sweat, your hands are covered with blisters, and it is nearly quitting time for the day.

ADC spokesperson Dina Tyler advises the public that this work is voluntary and not forced, and that a kaptive who refuses to work will just not earn meritorious good time credits. But in order for a kaptive to not earn meritorious good time credits he/she must have h classification status reduced (class busted), and to have your class busted you must be convicted of a disciplinary report. Meritorious good time does not take time off of a sentence, it only makes a kaptive eligible for parole consideration sooner. Spokesperson Dina Tyler would also have the public believe us ADC kaptives are paid for our labor, but the only money we get is six dollars a year near Christmas time, with a deposit that reads "Happy Holidays."

It wasn't until recently (12 January 2015) that the ADC revised its Class Status and Promotion Eligibility policy (Administrative Directive 15-02 supersedes 11-62/13-130) to read that a kaptive may refuse a job assignment. However, that is only upon initial assignment before the classification committee. I have yet to hear of any kaptive invoking or attempting to invoke such refusal. But the ADC is known for failing to follow its own policies, and for causing interference with the administrative remedies of kaptives so as to prevent them from seeking judicial relief. So us Arkansas kaptives on hoe squad must continue to chop or get locked up, and hope to reach class promotion and assignment to a more desirable prison job.