The first chain gangs popped up in Georgia in the early 1800s as a way to offset the cost of housing and supervising convicts. Shackled together, men did hard labor. The road work that some of these gangs did proved to be invaluable to the community. From its inception, the chain gang was profitable for local governments by providing free labor (slaves) and convict leases to private corporations.
In the early 1900s, Americans lost faith in the chain gang because of its open cruelty to inmates. Guards wielding rifles and shotguns publicly beat the prisoners, the shackles often caused serious infections on the prisoner’s legs, and some guys even died in frenzied melees that they had nothing to do with when a fight broke out that they could not get away from.
Today, GPS devices have replaced the shackles on prisoner’s legs, orange and white jump suits have replaced the black and white zebra costumes, but chain gangs and convict leases still exist on a more massive scale than ever.
The XIII Amendment of the United States Constitution, proposed on January 31, 1865 and ratified on December 6 of the same year, did not abolish slavery, but rather, guaranteed its perpetuity in one single clause. Because of this, the neo-chain gang is a multi-billion dollar enterprise for private corrections corporations who own millions of slaves-all in the name of justice:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Early on, private companies paid the government to lease convicts. This was a fiscal incentive for the government to deal with the costs of housing convicts. In addition to paying the governments for the laborers, the private corporations also took on the expense of housing convicts. This was fiscally feasible to local governments confronted with the problem of paying for incarcerating their convicts. Today, the government pays the private corporations to house these prisoners and the corporations are still leasing out convicts for slave labor at exorbitant profits for the private prisons. G4S is the largest private prison corporation in the world.
Taken from the G4S website:
“… our prisons provide the ideal environment for almost any type of business, from large-scale manufacturing, to highly-specialised digital media…” [sic].
In the United States, CCA holds the largest number of contracts for the neo-chain gang, followed closely by the GEO Group and lagging in with 20 facilities is G4S.
Ironically, on a typical keyboard, 4 shares the key with $.