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Eyewitness News from Missouri

This is the eyewitness account of what went down here at the Jefferson City Correctional Facility on August 10, 1996. At about three in the afternoon, a prisoner in Four House was being seen on a [disciplinary] violation. The caseworker (guard) got loud with the prisoner and he stabbed her. She called for help and two more guards got stabbed.

As fifty or more guards came to the aid of the other three guards, one or two gung-ho guards set in action a small riot with about ten prisoners who were just looking on. As of now nine guards and six prisoners have been put in the hospital and we have been on lockdown. Just so you will know, contrary to many published reports nationwide, the chain gang HAS NOT been abolished in Alabama. They have simply stopped chaining the prisoners on the chain gang in groups of five. These prisoners are still individually chained for no other reason than humiliation and degradation.

These prisoners are still denied visitation, canteen privileges, adequate medical care, televisions, and any type of educational or self-help programs, all of which other prisoners in the system have access to.

Back in the 1920's, 30's, and 40's, black children in Alabama grew up playing a game called "chain gang." It was something they simply grew up expecting to experience. How long will it be before black children of today will again be playing this "game?"

It is sad to think that the chain gangs in Alabama may end only after some good white citizen notices their own children playing "chain gang." To think that one day we may have to thank these white children for ending this aspect of our torture, and will then have to live in fear of what degradation it will be replaced with.

-- F.P., Alabama

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