Movements for Reform

Photographs, Selena Sloan Butler, undated
Me and My Captain: Chain Gang Negro Songs of Protest by Lawrence Gellert, 1939
Minutes, 1899-1911
Atlanta Georgian and news, Sep. 19, 1908

At the turn of the twentieth century, Progressive Era activists denounced Georgia’s convict lease system. Pamphlets advocating for human rights and newspaper accounts exposing the physical and sexual violence in convict camps flooded the print market. Reformers urged that if the lease system could not be abolished, then major changes to it were needed. Recommended changes included the creation of separate reformatories and camps for women and adolescents, new measures to protect female convicts from sexual assault, and the creation of policies that enforced the humane treatment of prisoners.