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It is the judgment of a quartet of damage of the Lowell credit you don't want to read of credits of the great long day. Would you have it if you were very adamant I would let you go what would I do to be brutal and credited in the county courthouse the circuit judge sentences a convicted defended within a few hours the former accused will become a convict a prisoner an inmate of a state penitentiary. What kind of institution will he enter. Under what conditions will he do what will be done to or for him in your state. Will he be majorly punished or will an attempt be made to understand him as an individual in need of help to find a partial answer to B's questions questions to which the public is paid slight attention from earliest times a
representative of the Florida State University visited state penal institutions throughout the United States. The result of these visits is a prison document a series of radio programs in which the individuals involved from the governor to the loneliest person are tell their own stories. Perhaps in your state the convicted man will become part of a labor force successor to the chain gang is the prison Ruud camp to which all able bodied adult males under 50 are committed by one state. Six a.m.. Nice Sunday morning. Standing inside the perimeter fence of a prison road camp a lot of shade trees around the southern Red pines and dogwood a very neat yard here. Right now we're outside the stockade gate. There's a
grassy plot out here with some very neat concrete walks lined with whitewashed stones. It's about four or five beautiful rose bushes in bloom at the moment. Some little palm trees and a small tomato bed there. I can say one two five trucks lined up waiting for the men who will come out of the mess hall and then go off in squads for the day's work. Some of the trucks have cages on I see two trucks which are open and dump truck types the ones with the cages are for the gun squads the ones with the open body are for the honor squads. And there are about. Well it looks like about 15 cats around here. There's always an easygoing atmosphere around a prison road camp.
At least four of the custodial personnel are standing here in the kitchen in the prison road gang. The deputy warden. The six o'clock business is going early work this day. We're having. Coffee here. This is the. Dark. Room over here in the studio. The law is that the employer saying. Let's see what they're having for breakfast. This morning we have grits eggs smoked sausage toast hot biscuit coffee. This is the inmates mess hall dining hall there are two tables here they must be about 20 feet long. There are a plank seats on each side the length of the sectional trays with three U.S. gallon water jugs. SARA The Turners. And there's a grapefruit set in one of the sections I see for this morning. Associate warden has gone
out into the stockade yard over to the barracks to. Check the men out they check out of the barracks start. Counting. And they were lined up outside the mess hall there. And at a signal they will come into the mess hall. Checking with a number. You're one of the cooks in here yes I learned you've been here three else. How do you like working over a game. That I like it better. The other place. Yes. What's better about. What you eat. Now kind or else. You get Chestertown will spoil everything. What sports do you have. When we play a little bowl got basketball football. Ball and below. That. A bit of a softball. You have. A mentor now. Check out the barracks. They're lining up the back door of the mess hall. In. Just a moment at a signal they come in.
Each one is on. A light. Blue gray uniforms. Of striped denim. Trousers. Here they come. They're all filing in and. Taking any place they wish to. The furniture is at the table here. From this morning now way up in the farther we want to thank Dave for the many convalescent that you have given. We want to thank you for letting us rise this morning in the warm glow of the sea around environment our pain this mornin Our Heavenly Father we want to bless each and every one that's set before this
table. Bless them I only wish they came from. Bless them instead here in this camp blessed a family blessed toward me and the millions of working waiting Heavenly Father we want to thank you for the food we now about to receive the nice men our body for Christ say. Anything. Good. For an update. While the prisoners finish their breakfast the foreman of an honest squad stops to chat. I'd like to go you can get more work out of you me and they work better and I think it just I don't know how to put it but anyhow you take a bunch of minutes out there you've got no going home and they know that you don't do it by they can be put back on to a gun and a man as a guest I think that isn't actually what made it a co-founder Stan. You know if you've got snow on TV you've got to have a gun but I don't mean do we have a
gun squad but I believe my way of seeing it. If you've got five or six large two or three of them on a squad and them that are in a gun squad they will be better because they'll have time to work slower to I just think it's something that I'd be that way much safer found the place like at and I'd be taking a day to get the place it would be somebody or watch me have a place and it would have no. Well how do they get on the other squad run guns go man. He has to prove this if he's got to be a good worker you've got to be polite and you've got to be a bidi and that keeps on going for three or four five or six months when I gnashed you'd have to recommend them. But. By the way out on the road to the tourists never stop and chat with you. And well yes they do. What are they asking. Well they estimated it was printed a lot I don't know you know yeah sure they'll come out of state. I say you don't have no no notion and I explained and I said no and it's a trust issue. But what do they say about that. Lana they like that and they
seem to like it. They have actually a lot of question of course will have the asset and what they're doing I guess they got light on the air some of them got life in treating these fellows who are up say for murder. Do you find any difference to find they behave better than some of the other ones well he's I've got one man I think I've got one minute to kill somebody and I don't want to witness it immediately after breakfast. Five squads prepare to check out the guards are now all around too with a shotgun over here one at the guard tower which looks diagonally across the stockade another group of about eight men are over at the guard house. Men are now filing out of the dining hall by the way. Here come the guards from the captain's office. They're all coming up on the squads one now to check out with the warden deputy warden. The warden is known as captain.
And the deputy warden is just generally called warden of the gods and Foreman are all lined up. There's no guard for the honor squad. Only a foreman each squad goes out with a foreman and a guard and a driver. And the guards joshing each other rather than Has the men all lined up in a double line. They're ready to count off. All right. Yeah I want so very far off. Thanks. That sucks man. That's a guns crowd they're climbing up into a cage track the cage just sat on top of the dump body and as a partition and back for the ones that stayed Yes I tried and now the foreman has climbed in and the guy has climbed in and he got his hand it is a gun and you can hear the truck driving up.
This is number one on a shroud coming out now. All right. Yeah one two three four off that very sexy man. When they march out to the track between two guards deputy warden and the warden they're all in the truck and the foreman and a driver. Many people realize that in those scribes a lifer is a murderer and somebody up for about two years next scribed that's why they brought that back channel not nine men. These are going under the gun now in a cage squat in number two on this crowd coming out now. All right that's one to look very far back.
Six men. I'd like to think five six seven eight eight men I notice number four was the preacher and the yeah so on the economics of yes on the morning listen you look like you're all set for the North Pole with those three jackets on. Yeah get in there and get to catching land trying to fathom 10 miles an hour here today with their cages drafting he said let's see what have you got in that. What kind of shells do you use in that. Number one on the number one number say someone about the prison road camp is build around a central yard enclosed on three sides by a high fence. A barracks type dormitory serves as the fourth side to guard towers about 12 feet high. Face each other diagonally across the yard. Near one of the towers is a small white painted building about six feet square and twelve feet high and these are the punishment cells
known as confinement cell solitary confinement is what they used to call the sweat box it was formerly known as a sweat box. Now this is about six by three years we should have as they are sitting in the middle there but it has no door or anything on Formally it was you put four people in if necessary. And they could be separated by locking a door that has been done away with. They would make it about a three by three then approximately three and a half night with me and couldn't lie down when I noticed you had a blanket two blankets a sort of pajamas. What a bucket. Yes yes what about a couple rows of toilet paper as well what do they use for toilet for so. Bob just jarring overhead but it's barred to. The bars being separated by going out around the side. My two and a half to three majors and this is covered in terrier screen right like a mosquito wire and also with a
heavy chain link mesh well just on the stand in here and close the door to me a minute. Wow this is far from being completely dark in here because there is enough light coming from the top. It's a mesh screen up there and of course the light comes in from the side you couldn't read a magazine you couldn't read anything. Now how does he let you know when he's ready to come out. Where are they. You get to talk and write you can tell by a person is added to more or less about whether he has been there long enough. I mean he'll show up here he'll become very apologetic get word to your Somewhere someone passing by someone whoever is serving their meal will tell a man in solitary cells wear only
pajamas when necessary they're given a blanket they get two full meals a day from the dining room for minor offenses like talking back to a car they may spend a day or two in the cell phone fighting then they remain in solitary for as long as 30 days. Inmate trustees do the housekeeping chores. One is sweeping the yard. Another is in the open shed laundry the dog warden a prisoner repairs a fence at the nearby bloodhound kennels. Jim what do you do around here. My work going to God. You're on the honor squad aren't you yes I do like it I like it better. Like it better than a gun squad. I'm a privileged you do what privileges away you can rock around and come out Saturday Gate be a boxes. Oh really. By boxes he means ornamental boxes for holding knick knacks or jewelry which are sold to people on the outside.
Bill's better way out from under a gun. Yes. How about you what do you do now you know who's gone I say take it gold and go to meet him in the yard here. You will I know utility boy you've been at the main prison have it. Yeah I would you prefer the main prison or the road game which you like better. The real count why I've just been a food down what do you eat down here and I could some day where you back at the main prison once. Yes I would. What are your duties. Yeah I wash your laundry man I do like laundry duties on the phone right. You were out on the road once weren't you what you do out there more often. W No. How long have you been here. Yeah it's sad to hear when you got to get out of our north so to get out
I what are you in for then the answer is well down for a while I was there for him a lot of first time. I mean how long you in for 10 years you know what to do on or off anything when they say you used to I mean you know what I going to do when you get out. I've been farming on the Laing I'm going back to the song I got a big family I had to stay on the farm with my family were over here at the dog. Right a little lonely doors jab ratify her. And her. Dad bloodhound and rock around often do you use dogs. Oh yeah we were there every day that is. Running. If I try to assess who runs them and whether it's an unnamed agent officer now called Andy after years I'm on escaping not very often we've already. Heard again in the last several months out on the road.
The work crews spend the morning repairing a washed out roads shoulder. Around noon the foreman finds a shady spot and the squad stops for lunch. The prisoners build a small fire for coffee. This is out alongside the main U.S. Highway 200 foot right away. And here in the shade of some of the trees alongside the road while the traffic goes by. An honor squad from one of the road prison camps is taking its noon meal. You're the foreman is that right sir. Yes and you have your driver with you. It sure is a hot day. But how long do you take off for lunch. We take an hour and a half noon. Yes don't have dad in the nation. What we got here for a meal today when we have an ordinary average commute we have blackeye coffee a few pieces just often biscuit gone bad. Pretty good average to
me maybe a slide to a light bread and a little cheese on the side. You get this every day practically. You start out pretty early in the morning with this group don't you. Yes and we start out Ordinarily we checked out around 20 minutes to say one o'clock and we checked back again at 5:30 in the afternoon and that's pretty late and long hours and then you have to work sometimes on weekends only and we have week Ganda nightly due to poor we have children and nights on camp duty at Camp and get time after that I need anything and don't know anything extra. Nothing next month to check your work on a monthly salary and economy. I don't suppose you can remember how many hours a week you work it isn't a 40 hour week. Oh no when you come here and be you know hundreds. The guard talked on about disciplinary measures he regretted that the use of the lash or of the strap had recently been forbidden by law. At this camp I like it much better than I do so all that day you'd like to
have to strap back ashtray beneficiary even to the food if they wanted to make a dime right. Well in what way was it beneficial How did you use the way Al Green we haven't got to stop today with brutality and no proper use down much it was you know what I mean when you have a lot of funny sadistic guards I suppose I just like to use the strap kept in you know a lot of felling like a lot of the little law enforcement you know they couldn't stand a little of a Saudi you know like boosting Jeff show uniform on that as well they wouldn't have any uniform and not date is that right. Dual role Usie. Well how would you like to use it. Well I'd tell you how you know I was kept in nine years and the way I use my stuff from time would be five or six weeks I wouldn't know where it was wouldn't punish a man I always figured if a man would work then was a big move no used to punish you for a man violated law to punish you but I didn't try to beat him to death and then he had done you take a man figure 15 lives and
I wouldn't let him up and warned him that was just a sample now if he wanted to do it next time I need to do it maybe I never would have he even know that you had very few repeaters. All they feed me the rest lunch period continues on the road and one of the inmates comes over to tell about Hobbes in the prison road camp. Yes we have hobbies but. Mostly we cannot. Oh what do you do then. That's. The biggest of us make chess isn't that Ukraine. That's bad and they have it going round here sell them. Something and we're fortunate to 70. How do you go about that you get your relatives to help you. Yes and I cases and then some time and the person they see has been I mean they want what what what one thing the think you like most I have in any line down at the camp. Well the biggest thing that they would like because they realize that the regulations that pretty much go bad but it is all about the salary
to be able to meet you know fans and having to come to see us. If you wish and we had appendages of writing friends. You know now we can only correspond with reality. And a lot of us have no relatives to correspond with and just friendship would mean a whole lot of work on the roads continues after lunch while at work the men are not permitted to talk but a short rest period is given each hour and they may smoke and chat during this break about 4:30 they quit work and the talks begin the drive back to camp. The morning checkout procedure is reversed and a search is made of each returning prisoners. It's now about five twenty in the evening and the first two trucks have just arrived in the prison compound. The first one is a cage truck with a gun squad. They've now lined up and will be inspected and searched. Second truck is waiting
behind it to unload the Guard has taken his place in the tower and is sitting down with his shotgun across his knees. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 0 Frazier at that time. Documented. I think gun squad. Yes and you're the foreman and that your guy over there is a valid started out with all the jacket him he ever had in our squad. You know so you don't know how to compare them to you know. Well I'd like to try one I don't know I know we're all advantage and some money and they work pretty well for yet another gun and this is a dishonest criteria. Yeah he's gonna search him by the way you're searching it should come down to take him down and then they check out again and you check out the date again. Yes it comes out one two three. From
what you can do to mark right there. No no bra tomorrow that's Saturday you get Saturday and Sunday off. Yeah what do you do on Saturday and Sunday where Raashi Hashimy do as most of the guards come from farms and towns nearby. The deputy warden was a machinist's mate in the Navy before entering the Federal Bureau of Prison Service he had been a correctional officer at Leavenworth and at Alcatraz. The warden spoke of his early prison career while waiting for supper. I started off the garden and the woods and Keenan for the bell in the 18 years of when you first worked as a war of. Nineteen and twenty one and you've been at that ever since I tried. And you've been at this camp sixteen years I've tried I've just been talking to some of these foremen and guards and they tell me that they'd rather have an honor squad I want to tell me take a cut in pay before I go back to a gun school. You feel that way about the honor squads.
Yeah I think they're ready to pay you know. Once again the prisoners file into the dining room. They will have a good hot meal after supper. Carnes hobbies reading television lights out at 10 no evening classes there are no educational opportunities at this rude camp right now. All hands are bowed the inmate preacher is about to say grace. Doesn't even know you haven't. Father we want to thank the watch you know I was this morning and to the moon I was and I through today it seemed and I would have been a father we want to thank you for God knows through him. And God knows from every harm and danger we want to thank you for the blood that is running women I will deed for the limbs are still like that in you slow bobber body. Heavenly Father we thank these bands and bless them each and every day bless the home many families and loved ones bless them in Zia that all of us have been a father. To see not having a father we want to thank thee for the food we now about receives are nice and I will
buy for a price a. Moment. Such as one day in a prison road camp. Such is one type of handling of men convicted of crime. Here now to comment on the things you have heard is Dr Vernon Fox is the issue of road games has been controversial for a long time between progressive correctional people and people who won't be used prisoners on the roads. The employment of prisoners itself has had an interesting history. The use of labor of prisoners has undergone considerable change over the years with the shifts in economic need technological progress. And social philosophy in ancient and medieval times there was no labor for prisoners with the exception of providing locomotion for the galleys and similar types of what. When the workhouse or a house of correction was established beginning in fifteen fifty seven agricultural work was
provided along with some other types of manual labor for the purpose of putting idle persons and debtors to work under the influence of the Quakers in 1790 a contract system a prison their labor was inaugurated in which an outside contractor furnished the machinery and raw materials and supervised the prisoners work while the prisoners retain the function of keeping the prisoners under guide. The contract system a prisoner labor with popular in the United States until the Civil War the lease system is probably the easiest way out for a state or local unit of government which does not wish to meet. The problem of caring for prisoners. It was popular in the southern states but its abuses were such that it was gradually eliminated by legislation. By 1936 all states had abolished the system of leasing convicts to private contractors in the
public account system of prison labor. The product of prisoner employment are sold on the open market. The use of prison news for the construction and repair of public streets or highways is called the public works and ways system. And this resulted in the road can use about which we have just heard the most popular of all systems of prisoner employment in America is the state used system in which articles are produced in the prisons but. Sold only to state supported institutions and political subdivisions. The issue between the progressive correctional people and those who employ prisoners on the public roads is less so over that type of work done than the manner in which the men are selected and how they are treated or not treated. Some of the advantages of the road camp has demonstrated is the easygoing atmosphere
and the constructive work involved. Usually good food is provided much better than the main prisons in the same system. The road camp or analogous type of camp operates considerable benefit if the objectionable elements could be eliminated. This has been a prison document a series of programs on the adult male in a state penitentiary. On this program we have examined a labor force prison. All references to actual persons and places have been parked with Lee deleted. We all are indebted to prison officials over the country and throughout the world for their cooperation and enthusiasm for the project. It is our sincere hope that prison documents may provoke in each of you a desire to understand the philosophies and problems in the correctional department of your own state. Production has been by the staff of the
Prison document
Southern prison and road camp
Producing Organization
Florida State University
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program takes the listener into a southern prison and road camp, follows the prisoners as they are loaded into a truck under armed guard, work on the highway, and return for the evening meal.
Series Description
A documentary series that examines prisons and their purposes.
Broadcast Date
Social Issues
Law Enforcement and Crime
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Engineer: Stone, Thomas
Engineer: Ragsdale, Bill
Narrator: Fleming, William
Producing Organization: Florida State University
Writer: Flynn, Roy
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 58-11-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:30
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Chicago: “Prison document; Southern prison and road camp,” 1958-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 28, 2023,
MLA: “Prison document; Southern prison and road camp.” 1958-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 28, 2023. <>.
APA: Prison document; Southern prison and road camp. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from