Convict Lease Under a New Name
Progressive reformers won a victory when the Georgia legislature outlawed the convict lease system in 1908. Under the system that followed, the state allotted prisoners to Georgia counties where they built and maintained roads and highways. Many southern white progressives touted the new system as more humane than its predecessor, but prisoners were still poorly clothed, underfed, overworked, and abused. Each day prisoners were transported to work sites in metal cages, and they were physically bound together by chains both day and night to prevent escape.