Unlike today where detainees of the state are kept housed and fattened because taxpayers have nothing else to do with their money, in the prison system of yesteryear, these scapegraces were made to EARN THEIR KEEP. On the dreaded island prison of Carerra , inmates were ferried across to nearby Kronstadt island to pulverize chunks of limestone which would be used in the Public Works Department for road repairs. Since this was not possible at the Royal Jail on Frederick St. (constructed in 1812) prisoners were formed into chain gangs and marched out every morning to undertake public works around POS. This was mainly an initiative of the clever Capt. Percy Fraser who was the Superintendent of Prisons from the late 1890s well into the 1930s. Chain gangs from Royal Jail had previously been used to maintain Lapeyrouse Cemetery as early as 1840, but Capt. Fraser extended their scope to include clipping of road verges, cleaning of canals and removal of dead animals. This of course was not only meant to make prisoners earn their keep, but also eased the burden on the coffers of the continually cash-strapped POS City Council which was forever in a deficit . Sadly, chain gangs are no more since it has been seen as more feasible to give prisoners an extended holiday courtesy the public purse. This photo from 1926 shows a chain gang around Belmont Circular Road being slow-marched while an armed officer (in helmet) follows them. The car also would be part of the procession, most likely carrying other armed personnel.
Source: Virtual Museum of T&T
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