The New South and the New Slavery

Convict Labor in Georgia

Carceral Labor after 1945

Though the chain gang was abolished in 1943, prisoners still worked on farms, roads, and construction projects throughout the state. In 1961 seventy-nine public works camps operated across Georgia. One infamous Georgia prison camp was Buford Prison Rock Quarry. In 1951, numerous prisoners severed their heel tendons to protest labor conditions there. Just five years later, more than thirty prisoners broke their own legs with sledgehammers to protest the demanding and dangerous work they were forced to perform.

At the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, inmates produced their own food on the prison farm. They also labored in the prison’s print shop and its license plate manufacturing, wood-working, and clothing and shoe repair divisions. Construction of Georgia’s famous tourist attraction, Stone Mountain Memorial Park outside of Atlanta, was largely completed by inmates.