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A prison farm is a large correctional facility where penal labor convicts are put to economical use in a farm (in the wide sense of a productive unit), usually for manual labor, largely in open air, such as in agriculture, logging, quarrying, and mining. The concepts of prison farm and labor camp overlap. The historical equivalent on a very large scale was called a penal colony.
The agricultural goods produced by prison farms are generally used primarily to feed the prisoners themselves and other wards of the state (residents of orphanages, asylums, etc.), and secondarily, to be sold for whatever profit the state may be able to obtain.
In addition to being forced to labor directly for the government on a prison farm or in a penal colony, inmates may be forced to do farm work for private enterprises by being farmed out through the practice of convict leasing to work on private agricultural lands or related industries (fishing, lumbering, etc.). The party purchasing their labor from the government generally does so at a steep discount from the cost of free labor.
Depending on the prevailing doctrine on judicial punishment and penal harm, psychological and/or physical cruelty may be a conscious intent of prison farm labor, and not just an inevitable but unintended collateral effect.
Other prison industries
Convicts may also be leased for non-agricultural work, either directly to state entities, or to private industry. For example, prisoners may make license plates under contract to the state Department of Motor Vehicles, work in textile or other state run factories, or may perform data processing for outside firms. These laborers are typically considered to be a part of prison industries and not prison farms.
In the United States (partial list)
|State||Facility||Type of work|
|Alabama||Draper Correctional Facility||Farming |
|Alabama||G.K. Fountain Correctional Facility||Cattle and Agricultural Operations, and Vegetable Gardens |
|Alabama||Limestone Correctional Facility||Cattle and Farming |
|Alaska||Point MacKenzie Correctional Farm||Hogs, Cattle, Turkeys, and Chickens, Produce Operations, and Hydroponics Program |
|Arkansas||Cummins Unit||Horse and Agricultural Operations |
|Arkansas||East Arkansas Regional Unit||Farming |
|Arkansas||Grimes Unit||Agricultural Gardening Program |
|Arkansas||North Central Unit||Garden and Forage Production |
|Arkansas||Ouachita River Unit||Livestock and Forage Production, Gravel Harvesting |
|Arkansas||Pine Bluff Unit||Horse operation |
|Arkansas||Tucker Unit||Agricultural Operations |
|Arkansas||Wrightsville Unit||Horse Operations, Agricultural Operations |
|California||California State Prison, Corcoran||Dairy/Milk Processing |
|California||Central California Women's Facility||Farming |
|California||Valley State Prison||Farming |
|California||Wasco State Prison||Farming |
|Colorado||Buena Vista Correctional Complex||Fish Hatchery |
|Colorado||Four Mile Correctional Center||Dairy, Wild Horse Inmate Program |
|Colorado||Rifle Correctional Center||Timber |
|Colorado||Skyline Correctional Center||Fish Hatchery, Farming, Vineyard, Goat and Water Buffalo Dairy, Mountain Sheep |
|Florida||Apalachee Correctional Institution, West Unit / P.R.I.D.E.||Beef Cattle, Lumber, Agricultural |
|Florida||Charlotte Correctional Institution / P.R.I.D.E.||Citrus |
|Florida||Union Correctional Institution / P.R.I.D.E.||Beef Cattle, Lumber |
|Georgia||Arrendale State Prison||Cattle and Swine, Hay Farming |
|Georgia||Dooly State Prison||Farm Services |
|Georgia||Montgomery State Prison||Poultry and Egg Production |
|Georgia||Rogers State Prison||Dairy, Beef Cattle, Swine, Farming |
|Georgia||Washington State Prison||Farming |
|Hawaii||Halawa Correctional Facility / Hawaii Correctional Industries||Farming |
|Hawaii||Waiawa Correctional Facility||Farming |
|Louisiana||Louisiana State Penitentiary||Farming|
Britain had a long history of penal servitude even prior to the passage of the Penal Servitude Act of 1853, and routinely used convict labor to settle its conquests, either through penal colonies or by selling convicts to settlers to serve as slaves for a term of years as indentured servants.
This type of penal institution has mainly been implanted in rural regions of vast countries. For example, the following passage describes the prison system of the U.S. state of Virginia in the early twentieth century:
"The state prison is at Raleigh, although most of the convicts are distributed upon farms owned and operated by the state. The lease system does not prevail, but the farming out of convict labor is permitted by the constitution; such labor is used chiefly for the building of railways, the convicts so employed being at all times cared for and guarded by state officials. A reformatory for white youth between the ages of seven and sixteen, under the name of the Stonewall Jackson Manual Training and Industrial School, was opened at Concord in 1909, and in March 1909 the Foulk Reformatory and Manual Training School for negro youth was provided for. Charitable and penal institutions are under the supervision of a Board of Public Charities, appointed by the governor for a period of six years, the terms of the different members expiring in different years. Private institutions for the care of the insane, idiots, feeble-minded and inebriates may be established, but must be licensed and regulated by the state board and become legally a part of the system of public charities."
In 21st-century Illinois, several prisons continue to run farms to produce food for wards of the state, including the prisoners themselves. The 1911 Britannica also reported that the state of Rhode Island had a farm of 667 acres (2.70 km2) in the southern part of Cranston City housing (and presumably taking labor from):
"the state prison, the Providence county jail, the state workhouse and the house of correction, the state almshouse, the state hospital for the insane, the Sockanosset school for boys, and the Oaklawn school for girls, the last two being departments of the state reform school."
There are prison farms in other countries. Canada has six prison farms, where 300 inmates do everything from tending pigs to milking cows.
Films featuring prison farms and forced prison labor:
- I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang is an award-winning movie released in 1932, which depicted the degrading and inhumane treatment on chain gangs in the post–World War I era.
- Prison Farm (1938)
- Gone with the Wind (1939) scenes of Scarlett O'Hara's leased convicts at work in her lumber mills
- Sullivan's Travels (1941)
- City Without Men (1943)
- Chain Gang (1950) starred Douglas Kennedy (actor) as a reporter working as a guard to expose corruption and brutality.
- Cool Hand Luke (1967)
- Papillon (1973)
- Scarecrow (1973)
- Nightmare in Badham County (1976)
- Buckstone County Prison (1978)
- They Went That-A-Way & That-A-Way (1978)
- Brubaker (1980)
- Life (1999)
- O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
- Civil Brand (2002)
- In "Les Misérables" by Victor Hugo, which has had several movie adaptations, the character Jean Valjean is part of a chain gang ("le bagne", which is usually translated as "the galleys" or "the prison hulks") as part of his punishment for stealing bread.
||This "see also" section may contain an excessive number of suggestions. Please ensure that only the most relevant links are given, that they are not red links, and that any links are not already in this article. (July 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
- "D.A. McCall, Secretary of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, Baptizes Convicts on a Prison Farm near Parchman on 18 August 1946". Crime and Punishment: Essential Primary Sources , 2006.
- Lunau, Kate. "Canada to shut down all prison farms". Maclean's, April 13, 2009.
- Draper Correctional Facility. (2013). Retrieved June 9, 2015
- Fountain Correctional Facility. (2013). Retrieved June 9, 2015
- Limestone Correctional Facility. (2013). Retrieved June 9, 2015
- Point Mackenzie Correctional Farm History. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2015
- Cummins Unit. (2011). Retrieved June 9,2015
- East Arkansas Regional Unit. (2011). Retrieved June 9,2015
- Grimes Unit. (2011). Retrieved June 9,2015
- North Central Unit. (2011). Retrieved June 9,2015
- Ouachita River Unit. (2011). Retrieved June 9,2015
- Pine Bluff Unit. (2011). Retrieved June 9,2015
- Tucker Unit. (2011). Retrieved June 9,2015
- Wrightsville Unit. (2011). Retrieved June 9,2015
- California State Prison, Corcoran (CSP-COR). (2014). Retrieved June 9, 2015
- Central California Women's Facility (CCWF). (2014). Retrieved June 9, 2015
- Valley State Prison (VSP). (2014). Retrieved June 9, 2015
- Wasco State Prison-Reception Center (WSP). (2014). Retrieved June 9, 2015
- BVCC - Buena Vista Correctional Complex | Department of Corrections. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2015
- FMCC - Four Mile Correctional Center | Department of Corrections. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2015
- RCC - Rifle Correctional Center | Department of Corrections. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2015
- SCC - Skyline Correctional Center | Department of Corrections. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2015
- Apalachee Correctional Institution, West. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2015
- Charlotte Correctional Institution. (n.d.). retrieved June 9, 2015
- Union Correctional Institution. (n.d.). retrieved June 9, 2015
- Arrendale State Prison. (n.d.). retrieved June 9, 2015
- Dooly State Prison. (n.d.). retrieved June 9, 2015
- Montgomery State Prison. (n.d.). retrieved June 9, 2015
- Rogers State Prison. (n.d.). retrieved June 9, 2015
- Washington State Prison. (n.d.). retrieved June 9, 2015
- Halawa Correctional Facility. (2015). retrieved June 9, 2015
- Waiawa Correctional Facility. (2015). retrieved June 9, 2015
- Chain Gang (1950) Turner Classic Movies
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Thomas, Nicki (Producer: Scott Croteau) "Prison farms facing execution." Capital News Online. Carleton University School of Journalism and Communication. March 5, 2010.
- David M. Oshinsky, "Worse Than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice," On the origins of the penal farm in Mississippi and the preceding convict lease system.
||This article's use of external links may not follow Wikipedia's policies or guidelines. (July 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
- Various relevant sources available on the CorPun website
- Alabama Department of Corrections
- Alaska Department of Corrections - Point MacKenzie
- Arkansas Department of Corrections
- California Department of Corrections
- Colorado Department of Corrections
- Florida Department of Corrections
- Florida P.R.I.D.E (Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises)
- Georgia Department of Corrections
- Hawaii Department of Corrections
- Hawaii Correctional Industries