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When The Tomatoes are Treated Better Than The Humans (MuckReads Weekly)

Some of the best #MuckReads we read this week. Want to receive these by email? <a href="http://www.propublica.org/article/when-tomatoes-are-treated-better-than-humans-and-more-in-muckreads-weekly#signup">Sign up</a> to get this briefing delivered to your inbox every weekend.

"They want us to take such great care of the tomatoes, but they don't take care of us." Half the tomatoes Americans eat come from Mexico. Then there are the melons, squash, bell peppers and cucumbers that make their way to well-known companies like Wal-Mart, Whole Foods and Subway. These corporations have policies requiring Mexican suppliers to treat their workers decently and provide them with quality living conditions. But a Los Angeles Times investigation of these mega-farms found rat-infested work camps, wages illegally withheld and child laborers. So what do these large corporations do to enforce worker protections within this $7.6 billion industry? Very little, the Times reports. —Los Angeles Times via @lauraelizdavis

Longest-serving prison commissioner now faces 368 years in one. Christopher Epps started as a prison guard in 1982. By 2002 he was the state's corrections commissioner. He would become the architect of what prison reformers call the "Mississippi Miracle," reducing sentences for nonviolent offenders, cleaning up a derelict supermax facility, and shrinking prison populations across the state, all while saving Mississippi millions. Then allegations surfaced that Epps allegedly received kickbacks for awarding nearly $1 billion in prison contracts. Now under indictment, Epps is facing five lifetimes in the prison system he helped reform. — BuzzFeedNews via @HanqingC

Then the trains started exploding. North Dakota doesn't have enough pipelines to move the amount of crude coming out of the state these days. So they go by train. In 2005, railcar shipments of oil tallied 9,500 nationwide. By 2013, that number jumped to 400,000 — most of it from North Dakota — and trains had started derailing and exploding, causing environmental disasters and, in some cases, leveling portions of towns. A joint investigation by Inside Climate News, The Weather Channel and the Investigative Fund found little oversight and few resources to manage the safe transport of crude oil across America's aging rail system. — Inside Climate News via @NaveenaSivam

Throw two carrots, get charged with assault. Facilities tasked with caring for juvenile wards of state rely on police to keep order in cases of violence, but also for everyday behavior management, like spitting on someone or throwing food. A Chicago Tribune investigation found that arrests for such behavioral offenses have become common at juvenile centers across the country, with some youths acquiring "criminal rap sheets or fac[ing] court hearings for actions that were predictable given their behavioral and mental health problems."— Chicago Tribune via @poolcar4

 

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