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-   -   Chain Gangs in America (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=799287)

chacoguy 07-24-2016 12:53 AM

Chain Gangs in America
 
Are there any Chain Gangs operating in America?

I'm asking about convicts that are physically chained together and performing some menial task like breaking rocks or picking up litter.

I know such gangs exist to work together, my question is about the actual chains.

Miller 07-24-2016 02:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chacoguy (Post 19501545)
Are there any Chain Gangs operating in America?

I'm asking about convicts that are physically chained together and performing some menial task like breaking rocks or picking up litter.

I know such gangs exist to work together, my question is about the actual chains.

Wikipedia says only in Maricopa County, Arizona, and only if the prisoner volunteers - working a chain gang can get time taken off your sentence

enipla 07-24-2016 07:26 AM

Not a chain gang, but prisoners in the county I work for are regularly used for maintenance tasks around county buildings. Raking leaves and other outside maintenance.

They are not supervised by officers and are directed by people in our building and grounds department. I suspect they are non-violent offenders doing a short stint for DUI or whatever.

Maybe it's part of the sentence. Community service. I don't know.

darazusa 07-24-2016 06:29 PM

look up sheriff joe arpaio's chain gang.

Cub Mistress 07-24-2016 09:16 PM

I have not personally seen a chain gang in real life in over 45 years. I remember my daddy pointing out a chain gang that was literally chained together doing some sort of road work in Mississippi when I was under 13 or so. It made quite the impression on me! I often see groups of inmates picking up trash along roads but they are not chained together. A supervisor, usually a sheriff's deputy, is supervising.

leahcim 07-25-2016 07:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by enipla (Post 19501775)
They are not supervised by officers and are directed by people in our building and grounds department. I suspect they are non-violent offenders doing a short stint for DUI or whatever.

I've seen ones where they are made to wear orange coveralls that say "drunk driver" in big letters on the back as a "scare 'em straight" measure for people seeing them from the road.

Still no actual chains, though.

campp 07-25-2016 08:35 AM

I saw one of Joe's chain gangs near my house. I took a picture of it. It was several women picking up trash in a vacant lot.

TriPolar 07-25-2016 08:59 AM

There were a few efforts to create new chain gangs in the past few years. Actually steel cable gangs I think. Public outcry ended the efforts as I recall. The image of the brutal chain gangs from the past are still in people's minds. Brutal not just on the job, but part of a brutal practice of prison labor camps that became well known through the book and movie I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang. I think there are plenty of prisoners who would prefer to get out and do some work strung along a steel cable if the conditions weren't awful, but even then the public is not going to like the idea. There are highway crews, but the prisoners aren't chained in any way, and as a result the prisoners eligible because they aren't dangerous or likely to escape is limited. Maybe limited to people who don't really need to be in prison anyway.

MacLir 07-25-2016 11:37 AM

Where I live, it's pretty much the same as the other posters; a group with orange coveralls and a supervisor/guard. Not even that noticeable, since the Adopt-a-Highway groups wear orange safety vests. There's a roundabout not far from my house that has signs saying that it's maintained by the Sheriff's Department work details.

beowulff 07-25-2016 11:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by campp (Post 19504003)
I saw one of Joe's chain gangs near my house. I took a picture of it. It was several women picking up trash in a vacant lot.

Iíve seen a menís chain gang on Cave Creek Rd.
He really makes a publicity stunt of it, with signs advertising whatís going on.

campp 07-25-2016 06:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by beowulff (Post 19504593)
Iíve seen a menís chain gang on Cave Creek Rd.
He really makes a publicity stunt of it, with signs advertising whatís going on.

Remember the giant pile of garbage that his chain gangs picked up and was proudly displayed? With a sign? Parked right in the middle of two of the biggest freeways in Maricopa where they merge? And caused a bunch of rubber-neck accidents because, you know, Joe! :(

DesertDog 07-28-2016 05:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by beowulff (Post 19504593)
Iíve seen a menís chain gang on Cave Creek Rd.
He really makes a publicity stunt of it, with signs advertising whatís going on.

Nothing happens in the MCSO unless it gets Arpaio publicity. That's why he pulled deputies out of the department investigating child-molestation cases (leaving more than 4,000 of them undone) and added them to the task force raiding Guadalupe, looking for those pesky illegal immigrants in a town where most of the residents are descended from Yaqui Indians who arrived around 1900.

garxie 07-29-2016 10:10 PM

I once saw a chain gang while going through the Deep South. But that was about 60 years ago.

Jackknifed Juggernaut 07-30-2016 05:25 AM

Interesting. Considering how ubiquitous they were in movies, I assumed that they would have been quite common.

garxie 07-30-2016 06:59 AM

I was just passing through the Deep South at the time so they may have been common there back then. I grew up in southeast Texas and I never saw any there. What we had in Texas to control work gangs was a guard with a rifle, sitting on a horse. If someone tried to escape he would just chase them down with his horse and shoot them if necessary.


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