SAVANNAH, GA., Jan. 31.—The Grand Jury, after making investigation, returned a sensational presentment to-day with regard to the county chain-gang, made up of petty offenders. Twenty-one men are disabled, most of them permanently, from fearful exposure in recent freezing weather. A number were made to break ice in the canal and work in freezing water without shoes and with nothing but their trousers to protect them. Few of the men have been brought to the hospital in this city, and seventeen, the report says, now lie on hard board beds in the convict camp wrapped in blankets, emaciated and disabled. The report continues:—
The convicts in the hospitals can neither stand nor walk. They are unable to wear shoes; they lie chained and huddled together, suffering from what, in this climate, is a most unusual affliction, but which is a slow and certain torture. Some of them will lose fingers and toes. Their feet are swollen and discolored, large gaping wounds are discharging blood and mucus, and in two or three instances the men show signs of prostration.
Of the convicts in the city hospital one or more will lose a leg.—New York World, Feb. 1, 1895.
One can but shudder as he reads this and remembers that under the Sunday law of Georgia, conscientious Christian men, whose only offense is working on Sunday after having kept “the Sabbath according to the commandment,” are liable to be subjected to the indignities and tortures incident to the inhuman system of leasing convicts in vogue in that State. But whether Christian men or hardened criminals are the victims, such cruelty is utterly abhorrent to every feeling of humanity, and the men responsible for such barbarities should be severely punished. Until such things cease we should, as a people, cease to boast of our nineteenth century civilization.