In the late 1970s, the drug rehab Cenikor was down and out. Founder Luke Austin had siphoned off almost all the program’s money, and participants were left eating cornmeal mush and green Jell-O to survive. 

Reporters Laura Starecheski and Shoshana Walter explain how Ken Barun, a former rehab participant, brought Cenikor back from the brink, with the help of NFL football pad inventor Byron Donzis.

Cenikor’s rehab workers started manufacturing the football pads, for no pay, and eventually would supply every single team in the NFL. During a 1983 campaign stop, this boot-strapping rehab caught the attention of President Ronald Reagan, who gave Cenikor his blessing. 

And later, when Reagan’s harsh drug enforcement policies filled jails and prisons with people who used drugs, a prison-to-rehab pipeline was born. 

Dig Deeper

• Listen: The American Rehab podcast series
• Read: Reveal’s reporting on All Work, No Pay.
• Learn: American Rehab resources


Reporting team: Shoshana Walter, Laura Starecheski and Ike Sriskandarajah

Chapter 5 reporting and production: Laura Starecheski and Katharine Mieszkowski

Edited by: Brett Myers

Production manager: Mwende Hinojosa

Production and mix assistance: Najib Aminy, Amy Mostafa, Katharine Mieszkowski and Claire Mullen

Original score, mix and sound design: Jim Briggs and Fernando Arruda.

Executive producer: Kevin Sullivan

Host: Al Letson

Special thanks: Sinduja Rangarajan, Dilcia Mercedes, Spencer Norris and WHYY in Philadelphia for production help

Original art by Eren K. Wilson

Reporting help from Amy Julia Harris; original art by Eren K. Wilson; web design by Gabriel Hongsdusit and Sarah Mirk; fact checking by Rosemarie Ho; editorial support from Andrew Donohue, Esther Kaplan and Narda Zacchino; production support from WHYY in Philadelphia; special thanks to Sarah Delia, Corey Jones, Volker Jannsen, Mooj Zadie, Charlie Kaier, Al Banks, Diana Martinez and Catty Donnelly, who was the voice of Luke Austin’s prison letters.

Support for Reveal is provided by the Reva and David Logan Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, Democracy Fund, and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.


Reveal transcripts are produced by a third-party transcription service and may contain errors. Please be aware that the official record for Reveal’s radio stories is the audio.

Al Letson:Hey, Reveal listeners, if you’ve been listening to American Rehab, you don’t need me to tell you about the importance of great investigative journalism. It really helps us when our listeners rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. It’s so easy to do and it helps others find our show. So, we’ve got a bonus. For the next 200 people who review us, Reveal tote bags. Like our T-shirts, they’re simple and elegant, dark blue with the word, “Facts” written across the front in bold type. So, here’s what you got to do. Text the word, “Review” to 474747, and we’ll give you instructions on how to get one while supplies last. Again, text the word “Review” to 474747. You can text, “Stop” at any time, and standard rates apply. And when you leave the review, if you want to tell them that Al Letson is your all time favorite host, I’m not going to be mad at that. Thank you so much for your review on Apple Podcasts. It makes a huge difference.
Laura Stareches…:Hey, this is reporter Laura Starecheski. Reveal is listener supported. To become a contributing member, text the word, “Reveal” to 474747. While they last, we’re offering a Reveal face mask with the word, “Facts” embroidered on it. Again, to get this special thank you gift, just text, “Reveal” to 474747. Standard data rates apply.
Al Letson:From the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, this is Reveal. I’m Al Letson. This is Chapter Five of American Rehab, Reagan with the Snap. When we left off in the summer of 1978, Cenikor founder Luke Austin had been ousted after he siphoned off most of the organization’s money to support a life of luxury for himself. Cenikor still had two facilities, its original headquarters in Colorado, and its newer operation in Houston, Texas. But the organization was broke. And the 75 or so people living in Houston were struggling. Some had been there for years, some were new, just starting to find a way out of addiction. And now, all of them were resorting to a diet of cornmeal mush and green jello just to survive. But as Laura Starecheski, of our American Rehab team, tells us, things are about to get a lot more corporate at Cenikor, with a little help from friends in high places.
Laura Stareches…:With Luke Austin out, Ken Barun was helping run the Houston facility. He’d been at Cenikor for six years, and now, he was trying to come up with a way to save the organization.
Ken Barun:We didn’t have a business plan. I’m telling you, I didn’t know what I was doing.
Laura Stareches…:After Luke Austin was caught spending Cenikor’s money on himself, after the brawl where he tried retaking control of the organization with tear gas and baseball bats, Cenikor gained a reputation, not a good one. Donors were balking at giving money, prominent board members left, and Ken took it upon himself to give the program some legitimacy, something that had been tough in the best of times.
Ken Barun:We had critics all the time, and I go, “Look, it’s working for me. It’s working for other people. You can criticize all you want, but none of the other programs to do it much better either.”
Laura Stareches…:Those other programs were few and far between. In Texas, in the late ’70s, even with all the Synanon inspired rehabs, there still just weren’t that many options for people seeking drug treatment. And to make Ken’s job even tougher, for all the years he’d been at Cenikor, he’d never really had control of the money.
Ken Barun:I never carried money in Cenikor, ever. I don’t think I had $10 in my pocket at any one time in eight or nine years. Nothing, nothing.
Laura Stareches…:But what Ken did have was a fundraising pitch. From the beginning, Cenikor participants were expected to pound the pavement and scrounge up donations. So, he stuck to it, explaining the program to anyone who could help.
Ken Barun:We got a therapeutic community, a program that people lived, we supported ourselves, we got donated food, donated clothing, donated cars. None of us got a salary, and that everybody has a job.
Laura Stareches…:Those jobs had been fairly small time in the Luke Austin years, landscaping gigs, the trucking business with one truck, the single Cenikor gas station. Now, it was time to think bigger. Cenikor started getting more contracts with outside businesses, sending groups of workers out to do construction, to work at a door factory. They sent 20 people at a time to a company that manufactured giant roof trusses for building homes. Ken also arranged a contract with the Houston Astrodome. Crews of Cenikor participants worked as landscapers. They would swarm the field and work around the clock when it needed to be turned over from baseball to football. And in 1980, Ken set up one more big contract.
Laura Stareches…:(singing). Houston Oilers, Number One. Yes we’re the Houston Oilers, Houston Oilers, Houston Oilers, Number One. You just can’t help singing along with that Oiler song. Anyway, the Houston Oiler’s quarterback was Dan Pastorini. He’d been the team’s first pick in the 1971 draft, a total star.
Speaker 4:Dan Pastorini bulls-eyed 26 times for 354 yards on the afternoon, and almost finessed Houston back to victory.
Laura Stareches…:Picture a strong jaw and a dirty blonde surfer shag, and that’s Pastorini. He dated Farrah Faucet. He posed for Playgirl. Pastorini had what one newspaper called a freakishly strong arm, but, he got hurt a lot.
Speaker 5:Pastorini is down. We watched Pastorini get carried out of the stadium earlier in the year on a stretcher. Dan is up now, but he really got leveled.
Laura Stareches…:After one of these injuries, in 1978, three broken ribs, Pastorini was in Houston Methodist Hospital lying there in bed, when two men walked in who he’d never seen before. Pastorini recounted this in an interview later with ABC news in Houston, one of these mysterious men was wearing a trench coat.
Dan Pastorini:He came by the room, carrying a brown paper sack, and a friend of his with a baseball bat. I thought they were going to pummel me to death and take me out of there.
Laura Stareches…:But the man in the trench coat was an inventor named Byron Donzis. Out of the paper sack came Byron’s latest invention.
Dan Pastorini:He just kind of nonchalantly takes this thing out and holds it over his ribs, and his buddy whacks him about three times. And I said, “I’d like to have one of those.”
Laura Stareches…:Byron called his invention a flak jacket. It was designed just for football players.
Dan Pastorini:Two days later, he shows up at practice, and he’s got the prototype, which was made from a Navy Seal life vest. And that worked. I mean, it was hot, but it was a very protective.
Laura Stareches…:In Pastorini’s next game, he faced off against 300 pound defensive lineman. Under his uniform, the flak jacket hugged his cracked ribs tight. NFL films called that game, “One of the 10 gutsiest performances in football.” The customized pads players wear today are still based on that original flak jacket.
Speaker 7:Protects their ribs, their sternum, and they still have full motion. Now, a quarterback would just as soon go without his jock, as he would his flak jacket.
Laura Stareches…:Pastorini and Byron Donzis earned a footnote in NFL history, but there’s one big detail left out of that footnote. Cenikor. When Byron Donzis was starting out, he had a prototype and a patent, but that’s all. Byron was more of an inventor than a businessman. That’s where Cenikor comes in. Ken Barun made a pitch that Cenikor had what he didn’t, workers.
Ken Barun:Why don’t we start making that stuff here? We can make it for you. It was all custom made, and he was making it in his basement.
Laura Stareches…:When Ken set up the contract with Byron, he cleared the entire 10th floor of Cenikor’s Houston hotel and created a makeshift flak jacket factory.
Ken Barun:Look, I didn’t go for any codes. I didn’t go to the city. I didn’t ask for permission. We just set up this kind of manufacturing system, we’ve got ovens, we’re melting plastic, we’re doing all kinds of crazy stuff.
Speaker 8:The folks you see assembling the Donzis gear are participating in a Houston drug rehabilitation program called the Cenikor Foundation, a group of people Byron is proud to be associated with.
Laura Stareches…:We found this old news footage, which looks and sounds like it was recorded on a jumpy VCR tape. It’s from a TV show called PM magazine, broadcast in Beaumont, Texas in 1981. You can see the Cenikor workers standing at work benches, peering through big 1980s glasses, cutting plastic into shapes, using cardboard templates labeled “large rib” and “sternum plate.” Byron explained the program.
Byron Donzis:Some 40 of them worked with us in manufacturing by hand, sewing, molding, forming, cutting everything by hand, and watching over it to make sure that the quality is there.
Laura Stareches…:Cenikor started by supplying the Houston Oilers. From there, they ended up making flak jackets and other pads for all 28 teams in the NFL, and 800 college teams.
Ken Barun:Making football equipment was perfect. We manufactured this stuff. We received it, we shipped it out of the there, so people learned shipping, receiving. Then guys would do sales, but it was a hoot of a job to do sales. I did a lot of sales. I went to Hawaii twice to sell to the University of Hawaii.
Laura Stareches…:Sometimes these lucky Cenikor sales people even got sideline passes to games. These brothers and sisters of Cenikor had gone from living in a rundown hotel, wearing donated jeans and eating cornmeal mush, to wearing donated suits and jet setting around the country. By 1983, Cenikor was making millions of dollars a year. It was pulling in big donations from corporations like Shell and Boeing. Ken had taken over as President, and the leadership started getting salaries for the first time. Cenikor was still not paying any wages to its participants, the workers, by the way. This was the moment when someone else got interested in what was going on at Cenikor, someone who would send its star rising even higher. One day, Ken’s phone rang and the voice on the other end said he was calling from the White House.
Ken Barun:So I said, “No, you’re not calling from the White House.” He said, “Yeah. I’ll give you my number. You can call me back.” So (202) 456-1414, at the White House, “Can I speak to Mike Castine?”
Laura Stareches…:Mike Castine worked for President Ronald Reagan. He was the Deputy Director of something called the Office of Private Sector Initiatives.
Ken Barun:Hold on, put him right through. Oh geez, what are you calling about? He explains to me, “We’re looking for a place for the President to visit. Could we come by and visit?” And I said, “Sure, you can come by and visit. Crazy, but come by.”
Laura Stareches…:Reagan was looking for places to speak, to show America what his Federal drug policy was all about, which is how, in 1983, Reagan came to visit Cenikor’s old hotel in downtown Houston. In the photos from that day, you can see a banner that reads “Cenikor Enterprises” and a young woman wearing a Cenikor T-shirt in front of a sewing machine, and a stack of flak jackets. Ken Barun got to introduce the President.
Ken Barun:I appreciate him being here because we’ve worked so very, very hard for 15 years to get the recognition that we feel Cenikor deserves, and this man has recognized that. Ladies and gentlemen, members of the press and distinguished guests, the President of the United States.
President Ronal…:Thank you all very much for a very heartwarming welcome. I’m very proud and happy to be here. I have seen some of the products and the things that you’re doing here, and I might just buy some of that football equipment that I saw, and use it with the Congress. So long as you don’t sell them any.
Laura Stareches…:Ken even helped the President test the flak jacket himself, reenacting that product demo from Dan Pastorini’s hospital room.
Ken Barun:We had put a rib protector on one of the guys, and I was holding the baseball bat. The Secret Service was nervous about that, but then I handed it to the President, and I showed the President how to hit the guy in the ribs with a baseball bat, and then he took a swipe at the guy.
Laura Stareches…:But this spectacle wasn’t really about the football equipment. It was about pushing Reagan’s economic policy known as Reaganomics. He was slashing taxes and social services, shrinking the government. Cenikor was the perfect example to show that the Federal government didn’t need to be involved in treating drug addiction at all.
President Ronal…:This center is self-sufficient, just like all of you will soon be. Cenikor receives no Federal money, and so no Federal strings come attached.
Laura Stareches…:Well, it wasn’t quite self-sufficient. Cenikor actually had received government money. The Colorado facility had gotten almost $300,000 from the Federal government. One early resident told me they’d eaten government cheese in Houston for years. Nevermind all that, Cenikor’s approach spoke to Reagan.
President Ronal…:I was glancing through your Cenikor booklet, and I liked the very first sentence I read, “In all the years that Cenikor has been in business, rehabilitating lives, we have found that nothing works as well as work itself.” Work is therapy. You feel better about yourself when you have something productive to do.
Laura Stareches…:It also didn’t seem to matter that Cenikor’s years long work therapy program didn’t work for most people. Beyond a core group of devotees like Ken, most people still left Cenikor just a few months after they arrived. Those people who left, who didn’t make it through the program, I couldn’t find anyone like that still around to talk, but the believers, believed. All the people I could find who were at Cenikor in the early days, they loved it. Despite Luke Austin’s abuse, despite the other failings, they stayed. Some even told me that Cenikor saved their lives. Ken Barun still swears by what he learned there, and he knows the stakes are life and death. About 10 years ago, his daughter died of an opioid overdose. Knowing those are the stakes, life and death, when people come to Ken for help, he still tells them about Cenikor. He even sent his own son there.
Ken Barun:We’ve got somebody there who’s doing very well, we’ve had people that haven’t done very well.
Laura Stareches…:I had told Ken the reason we’re reporting on Cenikor now is because it’s participant’s work, but it doesn’t pay them. Ken says he knows the program doesn’t help everyone, but that failing is not because of the unpaid work.
Ken Barun:Nothing has to do with the jobs that I’ve heard. The only criticism comes from that is journalists, and I’m not knocking you at all, Laura. Or people that have left the program. “Oh, they made me work so hard.” Well, what else would you be doing? What else would you be doing with your life, if you’re not working everyday learning a trade or helping other people live? I mean, what would you rather be doing? Sitting in a therapy session all day long and talking to your navel or what? I don’t get what people think life is about. Like I said, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to live life again. And yet, the example, the things that I did, prepared me to live life. I’m a great, I guess people call it a great success, I’ve had a great life after Cenikor.
Laura Stareches…:In his great life after Cenikor, Ken went to work at the White House. After Reagan was reelected, he was recruited to work for Nancy Reagan’s anti-drug campaign. Ken got his own office in the East wing. He stopped wearing donated suits. He helped spread the gospel of “Just Say No.” He’d made it. And Cenikor was about to get an even bigger boost from the Reagan Administration.
Al Letson:To keep the program growing and the money flowing, Cenikor needed people, workers, and the war on drugs would supply them.
Speaker 11:If you don’t take advantage of this, you’re never going to see sunshine again for the rest of your life.
Al Letson:The Prison to Rehab Pipeline. That’s coming up, after the break.
Al Letson:From the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, this is Reveal. I’m Al Letson. When we left off, Cenikor was doing great. They were making football equipment for the NFL, and the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, had praised their model, work as a treatment for drug addiction. But things were about to get even better for Cenikor because of that same President. Reveal’s Shoshana Walter picks up the story from here.
Shoshana Walter:To understand Reagan’s impact on Cenikor, first we have to go back to the drug crisis of the 1980s.
Speaker 13:See this cute little vile here? It’s crack rock cocaine, the most addictive form.
Shoshana Walter:Crack cocaine. There were tons of PSAs back then. They starred big deal celebrities, like Clint Eastwood, warning about this growing threat.
Clint Eastwood:Do you think it’s the glamor drug of the eighties? Well, that’s the point of this friendly little reminder. It can kill you. And if you’ve got to die for something, this sure as hell ain’t it.
Shoshana Walter:Fear about drugs was spreading across the United States. Imploring kids to stay off drugs had become First Lady Nancy Reagan’s signature issue.
Nancy Reagan:What should you do when someone offers you drugs?
Group Kids:Just Say No.
Nancy Reagan:What will do you do when someone offers you drugs?
Group Kids:Just Say No.
Nancy Reagan:I can’t hear you. Louder.
Group Kids:Just Say No.
Nancy Reagan:That’s wonderful.
Shoshana Walter:While Nancy Reagan was telling the nation to “Just Say No,” her husband had an entirely different approach.
President Ronal…:Smoke-able cocaine, otherwise known as crack, it is an explosively destructive and often lethal substance, which is crushing its users. It is an uncontrolled fire.
Shoshana Walter:Reagan wanted to completely eradicate crack. Obliterate it. This was a war. So prevention campaigns, like Just Say No, weren’t Reagan’s top funding priority. Neither was treatment. He poured money into law enforcement. By 1986, roughly 80% of the Federal drug budget was dedicated to policing and prosecuting people.
President Ronal…:The American people want their government to get tough and to go on the offensive. That’s exactly what we intend, with more ferocity than ever before.
Shoshana Walter:Reagan teamed up with Democrats, who had control of the House, to pass the bipartisan Anti-drug Abuse Act. Prominent Black politicians backed the law. They were eager to show their constituents that they had a response to how hard crack was hitting their neighborhoods. Almost no one realized at the time that one tiny clause in this complex new law would end up paving the way for thousands of Black and Brown people to end up in prison.
Shoshana Walter:The new law created a two tier system of justice. It said that five grams of crack cocaine would get you the same sentence as 500 grams of powder cocaine, meaning that somebody with just a little more than a sugar packets worth of crack would get sent away for the same amount of time as somebody with about a pound of powder cocaine. In the years after the law was signed, the people busted for crack were overwhelmingly Black, and they got much harsher sentences than the mostly White people busted for powder cocaine.
Shoshana Walter:In the late eighties, President George H.W. Bush piled on with another harsh anti-drug law, pouring millions more into law enforcement. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed his own law, adding more money for policing, and more prison time, again with bipartisan support. Since the crack epidemic, there’ve been others, there was methamphetamine.
Speaker 17:I did meth for the first time, now all I do is meth.
Shoshana Walter:Now, opioids.
Speaker 18:I got some Oxy after I hurt my neck. First, I took them to feel better. Then, I just kept taking them.
Shoshana Walter:With each new drug epidemic, more and more drug users have gotten locked up. Most of them are Black and Latino. In 1980, there were around 40,000 people behind bars for drugs. By 2017, there were more than 450,000. Judge Larry Gist watched it all unfold from the bench in Beaumont, Texas, outside Houston. When I went to see him in his chambers in late 2018, he’d been sentencing people for drug crimes for almost 45 years.
Shoshana Walter:I’m noticing all the awards on your walls.
Judge Larry Gis…:Yeah. I got a lot of awards. I have lots of friends in high places.
Shoshana Walter:One of the awards was from Cenikor, a shiny plaque shaped like a diamond. I asked him about it.
Judge Larry Gis…:I got it years ago. I’ve been close to them for 20 years, I guess they just decided to give me a plaque. I mean, I have no idea.
Shoshana Walter:I spent a day in Judge Gists’ courtroom. Lawyers watched videos on their phones, waiting their turn. One ate a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos, even though eating and cell phones were strictly forbidden. I watched defendant after defendant come before Judge Gist, some wearing shackles.
Judge Larry Gis…:Mr. Jenkins, the indictment in your case, 30222, alleges that you possessed cocaine.
Judge Larry Gis…:Ms. O’Neil, the indictment in your case alleges that you possessed methamphetamine.
Judge Larry Gis…:Mr. Cordoza, the indictment in your case alleges that you possessed cocaine, in a State jail felony amount on November 3rd.
Shoshana Walter:Judge Gist convicted almost everybody in the courtroom that day. Some could have faced 10 years to life for felony possession. Back in his chambers, Gist told us that he opts for probation most of the time, and he tries to send people to treatment in hopes that they can learn to take responsibility for themselves.
Judge Larry Gis…:The vast majority of folks that I deal with are basically bottom-feeders, they’ve been losers since the day they were born. They had a crack head momma and a dope head daddy, or no momma or no daddy. They kicked them out of church, they kicked them out of Little League. They’ve never achieved anything, and don’t know how to achieve it. They’re basically looking for the perfect welfare state, where the do-gooders take care of them.
Shoshana Walter:And over the years, for what he called the hardest core people, who’ve been arrested multiple times and are facing years in prison, Judge Gist would choose Cenikor.
Judge Larry Gis…:It’s the best thing that I’ve ever seen, for the right people. Last chance people, end of the road. If you don’t take advantage of this, you never going to see sunshine again for the rest of your life.
Shoshana Walter:They will never see sunshine again, because when a judge sends someone to Cenikor, and they don’t finish the program, they can be sent to prison for years, or for decades.
Shoshana Walter:From the very beginning, Cenikor founder Luke Austin knew how he could grow his program. He wooed judges and law enforcement officials, and got them to start sending people to Cenikor. When the war on drugs escalated, jails and prisons started overflowing with drug users. More and more courts were looking for someplace else to send all those people. Cenikor fit the bill. It was long term and it didn’t cost anything. Cenikor, and programs like it, became part of a prison to rehab pipeline.
Shoshana Walter:Cenikor is supposed to be a pathway out of addiction, but the main treatment method seems to be sending people to work. We asked Judge Gist about that.
Judge Larry Gis…:Drug treatment could be a thousand things. Sometimes tough love works better. There’s no one way to do it, no right way. It’s whatever’s right for this person, and who knows what that is. You’ve got to try, let’s see what’s behind door number three, maybe that’ll work.
Shoshana Walter:We wanted to go back to Judge Gist, to share all the findings of our investigation and get his response, but he passed away a couple months after our interview. We did ask him how many people he’d sent to Cenikor over the years. He said about 200.
Shoshana Walter:Judge Gist was just one of many judges across Texas and Louisiana who’ve become essential to Cenikor. Judges have served on Cenikor’s board. Some of them have received their own Cenikor awards. Some courts have sent just a few people to Cenikor, others have sent hundreds. It all adds up, about half of Cenikor’s residents today are court ordered. Just talking to people who’ve attended Cenikor, it seems like a disproportionate number of them are White. We wanted to know, is there a racial disparity here? How many Black and Latino people arrested on drug charges are even getting the option of Cenikor, instead of prison? But Louisiana and Texas don’t track that data.
Shoshana Walter:Tim Rowe, who we met earlier in the series, went to Cenikor voluntarily, with help from his sister, Penny. When he got to the Baton Rouge facility, he was shocked by how many people were court ordered into the program.
Tim Rowe:Most of the people that come in there, they come in there in orange jumpsuits with shackles around their ankles. They have to be there. They’re just turning those people into slaves, pretty much.
Shoshana Walter:We’ve talked to hundreds of people who’ve been through Cenikor’s programs. Many of them have been court ordered.
Speaker 21:Bottom line is, I don’t want to be a convicted felon.
Speaker 22:A friend of mine called the DA, and asked him to help me out, and get me rehabilitation instead of a jail sentence.
Speaker 23:Look, I had 45 years over my head. I didn’t care if they told me to jump through a flaming hula hoop and eat a bucket of shit. I was going to eat some shit, and jump through some fire.
Shoshana Walter:From its start as a fringe organization in Colorado, Cenikor has become an institution with multiple programs in Louisiana and Texas. The people at Cenikor are not making football equipment anymore. So what are they doing? We asked for a tour, but Cenikor declined. The only way to find out was to go to Cenikor and figure it out for ourselves.
Al Letson:And that’s exactly what Sho does. She teams up with our colleague, Laura Starecheski, to find out where Cenikor is putting people to work.
Shoshana Walter:There’s people taking breaks.
Al Letson:They tracked down coal workers in Baton Rouge who are doing all kinds of jobs.
Laura Stareches…:How often do folks from Cenikor work here?
Speaker 24:I’m not really sure because everybody wears the same uniform, so you really can’t tell one from another.
Al Letson:Chasing a Shadow Workforce. That’s next time on American Rehab.
Al Letson:The American Rehab reporting team is Shoshana Walter, Laura Starecheski, and Ike Sriskandarajah. Brett Myers is our editor. Laura is our lead producer and produced this chapter with Katherine Maskowski. Amy Julia Harris helped us report this story from the beginning and launched this project. We had additional editorial support from Narda Saquino, Andy Donahue and Esther Kaplan, and production help from WHYY in Philadelphia. Special thanks to Sandusha Rangarajan, Delcia Mercedes and Spencer Norris. Fact checking by Rosemary Ho. Victoria Beranetski is our general counsel, our production manager is Mewendy Inahosa. Our production team includes LaJeva Menhey, Amy Mustafa and Claire Mullen. Our theme song is “Lifeline” by the dynamic duo, Jay Breezy, Mr. Jim Briggs and Fernando, my man, Yoarruda. They composed and performed all of the music on American Rehab.
Al Letson:Our CEO is Christa Scharfenberg. Matt Thompson is our editor in chief and our executive producer is Kevin Sullivan. Support for Reveal is provided by the Reva and David Logan Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Heising Simons Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.
Al Letson:Reveal is a co-production of the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. I’m Al Letson. And remember, there is always more to the story.

Laura Starecheski is a former senior radio editor for Reveal. Their radio work at Reveal has won a national Edward R. Murrow, a duPont-Columbia, and a Peabody, among other awards. Previously, they reported on health for NPR’s science desk and traveled the United States with host Al Letson for the Peabody Award-winning show “State of the Re:Union.” Their Radiolab story “Goat on a Cow” won a silver award for best documentary from the Third Coast/Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and SOTRU's “The Hospital Always Wins” won a national Murrow Award. They have been a Rosalynn Carter fellow for mental health journalism and a Knight-Wallace fellow at the University of Michigan. Starecheski is based in Philadelphia.

Shoshana Walter was a senior reporter and producer at Reveal, covering the criminal justice and child welfare systems. She's working on a book for Simon & Schuster about the failures of our country's addiction treatment system. At Reveal, she reported on exploitative drug rehab programs that require participants to work without pay, armed security guards, and sex abuse and trafficking in the marijuana industry. Her reporting has prompted new laws, numerous class-action lawsuits and government investigations. Her stories have been named finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, Selden Ring and National Magazine Awards. She has also been honored with the Livingston Award for National Reporting, the IRE medal, the Edward R. Murrow award, the Knight Award for Public Service, a Loeb Award and Sigma Delta Chi Award for investigative reporting. Her Reveal podcast, "American Rehab," was named one of the best podcasts of the year by The New Yorker and The Atlantic and prompted a congressional investigation.

Walter began her career as a police reporter for The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida, and previously covered violent crime and the politics of policing in Oakland, California, for The Bay Citizen. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, she has been a Dart Center Ochberg fellow for journalism and trauma at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim fellow in criminal justice journalism. She is a fellow with the Watchdog Writers Group at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and is based in Oakland, California.

Ike Sriskandarajah was a senior reporter, producer, and fill-in host for Reveal. He has worked on projects that have won an Emmy, two medals from Investigative Reporters and Editors, and awards from Third Coast, the Education Writers Association, and the New York Associated Press Association. He was a narrative audio producer at The New York Times, making investigative episodes for "The Daily." Sriskandarajah is from Wisconsin and reports from New York City.

Brett Myers is an interim executive producer for Reveal. His work has received more than 20 national honors, including a George Foster Peabody Award, four nationalEdward R. Murrow Awards and multipleThird Coast/Richard H. Driehaus Competition awards. Before joining Reveal, he was a senior producer at Youth Radio, where he collaborated with teenage reporters to file stories for "Morning Edition," "All Things Considered" and "Marketplace." 

Prior to becoming an audio producer, Myers trained as a documentary photographer and was named one of the 25 best American photographers under the age of 25. He loves bikes, California and his family. Before that, he was an independent radio producer and worked with StoryCorps, Sound Portraits and The Kitchen Sisters. Myers is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.

Kevin Sullivan is a former executive producer of Reveal’s public radio show and podcast. He joined Reveal from the daily news magazine show “Here & Now,” where he was senior managing editor. There, he helped lead the expansion of the show as part of a unique partnership between NPR and WBUR. Prior to radio, Sullivan worked as a documentary film producer. That work took him around the world, with stories ranging from reconciliation in Northern Ireland to the refugee crisis during the war in Kosovo.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Sullivan launched an investigative unit for CBS in Baltimore, where he spearheaded investigations on bioterrorism and the U.S. government’s ability to respond to future threats. He also dug into local issues. His exposé of local judges found widespread lax sentencing of repeat-offender drunken drivers. Other investigations included sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests, and doctors who sold OxyContin for cash. Sullivan has won multiple journalism awards, including several Edward R. Murrow awards, a Third Coast / Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Competition award and an Emmy. He has an MBA from Boston University.

Fernando Arruda is a sound designer, engineer and composer for Reveal. As a multi-instrumentalist, he contributes to the original music, editing and mixing of the weekly public radio show and podcast. He has held four O-1 visas for individuals with extraordinary abilities. His work has been recognized with Peabody, duPont-Columbia, Edward R. Murrow, Gerald Loeb, Third Coast and Association of Music Producers awards, as well as Emmy and Pulitzer nominations. Prior to joining Reveal, Arruda toured as an international DJ and taught music technology at Dubspot and ESRA International Film School. He worked at Antfood, a creative audio studio for media and TV ads, and co-founded a film-scoring boutique called the Manhattan Composers Collective. He worked with clients such as Marvel, MasterClass and Samsung and ad agencies such as Framestore, Trollbäck+Company, BUCK and Vice. Arruda releases experimental music under the alias FJAZZ and has performed with many jazz, classical and pop ensembles, such as SFJAZZ Monday Night Band, Art&Sax quartet, Krychek, Dark Inc. and the New York Arabic Orchestra. His credits in the podcast and radio world include NPR’s “51 Percent,” WNYC’s “Bad Feminist Happy Hour” and its live broadcast of Orson Welles’ “The Hitchhiker,” Wondery’s “Detective Trapp,” MSNBC’s “Why Is This Happening?” and NBC’s “Born to Rule,” to name a few. Arruda also has a wide catalog of composed music for theatrical, orchestral and chamber music formats, some of which has premiered worldwide. He holds a master’s degree in film scoring and composition from NYU Steinhardt. The original music he makes with Jim Briggs for Reveal can be found on Bandcamp.

Jim Briggs III is the senior sound designer, engineer and composer for Reveal. He supervises post-production and composes original music for the public radio show and podcast. He also leads Reveal's efforts in composition for data sonification and live performances.

Prior to joining Reveal in 2014, Briggs mixed and recorded for clients such as WNYC Studios, NPR, the CBC and American Public Media. Credits include “Marketplace,” “Selected Shorts,” “Death, Sex & Money,” “The Longest Shortest Time,” NPR’s “Ask Me Another,” “Radiolab,” “Freakonomics Radio” and “Soundcheck.” He also was the sound re-recording mixer and sound editor for several PBS television documentaries, including “American Experience: Walt Whitman,” the 2012 Tea Party documentary "Town Hall" and “The Supreme Court” miniseries. His music credits include albums by R.E.M., Paul Simon and Kelly Clarkson.

Briggs' work with Reveal has been recognized with an Emmy Award (2016) and two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards (2018, 2019). Previously, he was part of the team that won the Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma for its work on WNYC’s hourlong documentary special “Living 9/11.” He has taught sound, radio and music production at The New School and Eugene Lang College and has a master's degree in media studies from The New School. Briggs is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior reporter and producer for Reveal. She's also been a senior writer for Salon and Fast Company. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, Slate and on NPR's "All Things Considered."

Her coverage has won national awards, including the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award two years in a row, an Online News Association Award, a Webby Award and a Society of Environmental Journalists Award. Mieszkowski has a bachelor's degree from Yale University. She is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.

Amy Mostafa (she/they) was the production manager for Reveal. She is a UC Berkeley School of Journalism alum, where she focused on audio and data journalism as a Dean's Merit Fellow and an ISF Scholar. She has reported on science, health and the environment in Anchorage for Alaska Public Media and on city government in Berkeley and San Francisco for KQED. Her work also has appeared on NPR, KALW and KALX. Mostafa holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and public policy. She has most recently reported on housing and aging in the Bay Area. She is based in Reveal’s Emeryville, California, office.

Najib Aminy is a producer for Reveal. Previously, he was an editor at Flipboard, a news aggregation startup, and helped guide the company’s editorial and curation practices and policies. Before that, he spent time reporting for newspapers such as Newsday and The Indianapolis Star. He is the host and producer of an independent podcast, "Some Noise," which is based out of Oakland, California, and was featured by Apple, The Guardian and The Paris Review. He is a lifelong New York Knicks fan, has a soon-to-be-named kitten and is a product of Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism. Aminy is based in Reveal’s Emeryville, California, office.

Al Letson is a playwright, performer, screenwriter, journalist, and the host of Reveal. Soul-stirring, interdisciplinary work has garnered Letson national recognition and devoted fans.

Mwende Hinojosa is a former production manager for Reveal. Prior to joining Reveal, she was the training strategist and innovation manager for the Bay Area Video Coalition, a nonprofit media arts center in San Francisco. At BAVC, she provided resources and support to students training in video, motion graphics, web and graphic design and managed a community for creative freelancers called Gig Union. She has produced segments for public radio stations KUSP, KQED, KALW and KUOW; videos and short documentaries for nonprofits; interactive panel discussions; and immersive storytelling experiences for tech companies. .

Claire Mullen worked at The Center for Investigative Reporting until September 2017. is an associate sound designer and audio engineer for Reveal. Before joining Reveal, she was an assistant producer at Radio Ambulante and worked with KALW, KQED, the Association of Independents in Radio and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. She studied humanities and media studies at Scripps College.