Carceral Labor after 1945
Map of Georgia public works camps and state prisons or camps in operation in 1962. From Your Georgia Prison System and How It Works, p. 2.
Courtesy of University of Georgia. Map and Government Information Library, Georgia Government Publications.
Georgia State Prison at Reidsville in 1936.
Courtesy of Atlanta History Center, Kenneth Rogers Photograph Collection.
A newspaper article describing Buford Rock Quarry prisoners smashing their legs with sledgehammers in protest of labor conditions at the prison quarry. The Butler Herald, May 30, 1957, p. 6.
Courtesy of Georgia Newspaper Project, Georgia Historic Newspapers.
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.