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AL Brings Back Chain Gangs

Ron Jones, commissioner of the Alabama DOC, has announced that it has ordered 300 sets of leg irons to the tune of $17,000 so prisoners can be put to work for the first 90 days of their sentences. Jones is carrying out a directive from Republican Governor Fob James that new prisoners be denied television; that they be put to work, and that their first impression of prison Abe so unpleasant that they never come back.

Alabama currently uses minimum security prisoners, without shackles, to pick up litter around highways. But over half of Alabama's prisoners have medium and maximum security classifications which do not allow them to work outside of prison compounds. AWith leg shackles, we can put higher risk inmates to work@ on the outside, said Jones. Jones stated the chains would allow five prisoners to work in a group with 8 feet of chain between the prisoners. The first chain gang will start in Limestone County.

Asked by the media, no one at the AL DOC could recall when or why the DOC had done away with chain gangs. The chain gangs will be used along heavily traveled interstate highways in full view of motorists. This would indicate that the actual purpose of the chain gangs is as a political propaganda tool of the Republican Governor rather than any penological goal of impressing newcomers to the Alabama prison system

Topeka Paper, March 2, 1995

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