Yes, the idea of facing hard labor, like what chain gangs must face, would definitely be a deterrent to further criminal behavior for many individuals. Today's prison system is a joke. More often than not, criminals sentenced to prison have more privilege than punishment. Prisoners can exercise, socialize, even earn college degrees while in prison. Though placing prisoners in the dangerous atmosphere of prison might deter them from committing crimes once released, there should be more of a consequence than simple incarceration. Good, hard work might have a greater impact on rehabilitation than the current system activities inmates partake in. In the first place, criminal behavior is the substitute for honest to goodness working for a living. Perhaps if going to prison involved honest hard work and physical labor, it might instill a work ethic to potential re-offenders and make going to prison more than just three square meals and unlimited down time.
Hard labor is good for the soul and keeps idol minds free from evil. Chain gangs doing dingy work may help people from thinking about committing crimes ever again. There's no room for whining, fighting, drinking or doing drugs on chain gangs. Prison culture will change if America reinstates chain gangs as a form of prison labor.
I do not believe we should re-institute the chain gangs as a deterrent for criminal behavior in America. I do believe that prisoners should work and quite frankly they should spend the majority of their time working, around 60 hours a week, to help pay for their lodging and food expenses. I do not believe they should be paid, no matter the amount, for working while imprisoned.
Using the wording 'chain gangs' brings up emotions in our nation's history that are better left in the past. Criminal behavior is rampant in our culture, but threatening criminals with 'chain gangs' is not the answer. Criminals should be punished, and types of work or hard labor could be instituted, but this specific example garners too many racist connotations.
How did chain gangs work as a deterrent to crime when they were an institutional policy? This is something that never makes sense with these "tough on crime" kind of people. They always advocate going back to some harsh, brutal method of punishment, because they "worked". Who said they worked? What's the evidence of this? If they worked, why did we move beyond them?