湖北自考网2017-12-24 09:42:02



Return of The Chain Gang

Eyewitnesses say it was a scene straight out of a black and white movie from the 1950s. As the sun rose over the fields of Huntsville, Alabama, in the American South, the convicts got down from the trucks that had brought them there. Watched over by guards with guns, they raised their legs in unison and made their way to the edge of the highway, Interstate 65. The BBC's Washington correspondent Clare Bolderson was there and she sent this report:"They wore white uniforms with the words 'Chain Gang' on their backs and, in groups of five, were shackled together in leg irons joined by an eight-foot chain. The prisoners will work for up to 90 days on the gang: they'll clear ditches of weeds and mend fences along Alabama's main roads. While they are working on the gang, they'll also live in some of the harshest prison conditions in the United States.

There'll be no televisions or phone calls; many other day-to-day privileges will be denied."

The authorities in Alabama say there is a lot of support for the re-introduction of chain gangs in the State after a gap of 30 years (the last gangs were abolished in Georgia in the early 1960s). Many people believe it is an effective way to get criminals to pay back their debt to society.

The prisoners stay shackled when they use toilets. They reacted sharply to the treatment they are given:Prisoner one: "This is like a circus. A zoo. All chained here to a zoo. We're all animals now."

Prisoner two: "It's degrading. It's embarrassing."

Prisoner three: "In chains. It's slavery!"

Six out of every ten prisoners in chains are black, which is why the chain gangs call up images of slavery in centuries gone by, when black people were brought from Africa in leg irons and made to work in plantations owned by white men. Not surprisingly, although three quarters of the white population of Alabama supports chain gangs, only a small number of black people do. Don Claxton, spokesman for the State Government of Alabama, insists that the system is not racist:"This isn't something that's done for racial reasons, for political reasons. This is something that's going to help save the people of Alabama tax money because they don't have to pay as many officers to work on the highways. And it's going to help clean up our highways and it's going to help clean up the State."

However, the re-introduction of these measures has caused a great deal of strong disagreement. Human rights organizations say that putting prisoners in chains is not only inhumane but also ineffective.

Alvin Bronstein, member of the Civil Liberties Union, says that study after study has shown that you cannot prevent people from committing crimes by punishment or the threat of punishment: "What they will do is make prisoners more angry, more hostile, so that when they get out of prison, they will increase the level of their criminal behaviour."

Civil liberties groups say that chaining people together doesn't solve the causes of crime, such as poverty or disaffection within society. What it does is punish prisoners for the ills of society. They say the practice takes the United States back to the Middle Ages, and that it is a shame to American society. But that's not an argument likely to win favour among many people in the Deep South of the United States. Alabama's experiment is to be widened to include more prisoners, and other States, such as Arkansas and Arizona, will very probably introduce their own chain gang schemes.


看到这个情景的人说,这就像50年代一部黑白电影中的场景:当太阳从美国南部阿拉巴马州的亨茨威尔的田野上升起时,罪犯们从运送他们的卡车上下来。在持枪的卫兵监视下,他们步伐整齐地向65号州际的高速公路的路边走去。英国广播公司驻华盛顿记者克莱尔德森就在现场,并发回如下报道:罪犯们穿着白我号衣,背上写有"Chain Gang"字样。他们五人一组,用一条八英尺长的铁链把他们的腿拴在一起。这些囚犯要这样串在一起干90天活儿;他们要清理排水沟上的杂草,要维修沿阿拉巴马主干道的防护栏。他们要串在一起劳动不说,他们监狱的有些条件也是美国最恶劣的:没有电视,不让接电话;其他日常生活的权利也被剥削。







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