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This Day in Georgia History

March 03, 1874

Convict Lease System Legislation

Gov. James M. Smith signed legislation authorizing a convict lease system in which state prison inmates could be leased out to persons or companies for periods of one to five years for such fee as agreed to by the governor. The act required the humane treatment of convicts and limited them to a ten-hour work day, with Sunday off. Equally important, leases had to free the state from all costs associated with prisoner maintenance. Once all state convicts were leased, the law provided that all state penitentiary officers and employees be discharged.