Things weren't always quite this bad. In the past few years, Short Creek has become bisected by two big "judgments." At the command of Jeffs and his brother Lyle, the leaders interviewed everyone and decided who was worthyand not worthyof joining an elite institution called the United Order, or the UO. You could be judged unworthy for basically anythinghaving a miscarriage, playing sports, or not wanting to marry a man old enough to be your grandfatherand if you were judged unworthy, you were demoted to a lower, slave-like class.
Many people didn't make it into the UO even when their kids did. If those kids were over the age of eight, they were taken away to be raised by other mothers or sent out on unpaid work crews, like Willy was. Hundreds of families were split up, sometimes never to see each other again. Those who didn't make it into the UO, children included, were sent to live with a group of other "unworthy" people in crowded homes similar to the duplex, or in a series of large tents now being built for the unrighteous. We drove past the tents. They sat unsheltered in the freezing temperatures.
Alyssa and her mother did not make it into the UO. They were sent to live in a non-UO house, the one with the roaches, where 22 other children were living. "We had two ten-year-olds [living there] who weren't with their parents. Just orphans. 'Cause they were unworthy," Alyssa explained. "It was like the most horrible whack to their self-esteem... They didn't know what they did bad."