Work Awaits Arizona's Condemned

From Associated Press

Arizona today day will begin shackling its 109 convicted killers on death row and marching them out to a prison garden where they will be forced to work 40 hours a week.

It's the latest in a series of "get-tough" measures in a state that already has chain gangs and tent jails.

"The alternative is for them to sit in their cells or do nothing--or file frivolous lawsuits against the state that cost taxpayers millions of dollars," said Doug Cole, a spokesman for Gov. Fife Symington.

"Arizona law requires that each able-bodied prisoner engage in hard labor at least 40 hours a week. We're just following the law."

The death row work detail begins today at the state prison in Florence.

Four days a week, the inmates will be shackled hand and foot while working in groups of 20 in the 19-acre vegetable field inside prison walls, said Mike Arra, a Corrections Department spokesman.

They'll be supervised by a minimum of four armed guards, at least one of them on horseback.

In May, Arizona became the second state to reinstitute chain gangs, after Alabama. Florida also has instituted chain gangs, as has Tennessee's Cheatham County.

Every able-bodied inmate of the state's death row will be required to work, for 10 cents an hour. Anyone who refuses will be taken to the field and required to stay for the entire shift.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World