How long were chain gangs used in America?

Borrowing from eighteenth-century English penal procedures, southern states began using chain gangs before the Civil War and continued the practice for nearly a hundred years.

Georgia became the last state to outlaw this method of punishment in the late 1940s.

The decline of chain gangs was due as much to automation as to public protest: New machinery used to build roads did not require as many workers.

1 thought on “How long were chain gangs used in America?”

  1. I keep reading that chain gangs were abolished by 1955. However, I witnessed them being used in rural Virginia in the early to mid-1960s. When I inquired of the Southern Poverty Law Center I was informed that some areas continued to use them off the main areas. So even though it was “officially” abolished, some law enforcement and corrections officers did use them long after they should have stopped. It sometimes takes a long time for new ideas to take root.

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