Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice

Children and adolescents were also victims of Georgia’s convict lease and chain gang systems. Many children were conceived and born in prison camps, and various penitentiary records indicate that an average of twenty-five children lived in the camps in any given year. Male and female juveniles, most of whom were African American, were often charged and sentenced to adult chain gangs for petty crimes like vagrancy, playing dice in the street, and trespassing.

African American women such as Carrie Steele Logan and Martha Holsey founded philanthropic institutions to keep children out of the prison system. Carrie Steele Logan established her Orphan Home in Atlanta, which cared for children born in convict camps, juveniles accused of petty crimes, and children orphaned by the convict lease system. Steele Logan worked directly with the Atlanta Police Department to send African American adolescents to her orphanage to receive rehabilitation and education rather than be sent to the chain gang to perform backbreaking labor alongside adult prisoners. In 1907 African American seamstress and Athens clubwoman Martha Holsey worked with the all-white Athens Woman’s Club to establish a Black orphanage and daycare for working mothers.