Chain Gangs Are Cruel and Unusual Punishment

By Brownstein, Rhonda | Corrections Today, April 1996 | Go to article overview

Chain Gangs Are Cruel and Unusual Punishment


Brownstein, Rhonda, Corrections Today


Last year, with much fanfare, Alabama brought a sad and cruel part of American history back from the past - inmate chain gangs. More than 700 Alabama medium custody inmates now labor 10 hours a day busting rocks and picking up litter on the highways. The inmates, who receive no visitation during their entire six-month sentence, are handcuffed - arms above them - to a hitching post for the entire day if they "refuse to work" or disrupt others while working. The governor and prison commissioner claim that the chain gangs will deter crime and negative inmate behavior. They also claim that the program will save the state money. Actually, the reinstatement of chain gangs in Alabama was a shrewd political move, designed to appease the public's demand that the government get tough on crime.

Will chain gangs work to deter crime? We may never know the answer to that question. But recent statistics and studies point to the fact that longer and harsher prison sentences will do nothing to curb crime. According to the Uniform Crime Reports and National Crime Survey, the prison and jail population in the United States doubled from 1985 to 1995 due to the move toward mandatory and longer sentences, more people being sent to prison instead of being placed on probation, and more restrictive parole and other release policies. Yet, during this same period, the overall rate of serious crime remained stable. In Florida, the incarceration rate in 1980 was 183 per 100,000. By 1989, the rate had increased to 311 people incarcerated per 100,000. Yet, during this same period, the per capita reported crime remained the same. And, despite the fact that the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, it also has one of the highest rates of violent crime. Incarcerating more inmates and lengthening prison stays has not served to deter crime.

On the other hand, recent studies suggest that education and jobs have some positive influence on both prison behavior and recidivism. A recent study by Anne Piehl, an assistant professor at Harvard, found that male inmates in the Wisconsin prison system who were enrolled in high school classes were 10 percent less likely to be rearrested four years after their release than those who did not participate in the program. Obviously, a 10 percent reduction in inmates nationwide would save a significant amount of tax dollars. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Chain Gangs Are Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.