Convict Labor Leasing in Florida

In the early twentieth century, nearly all state prisoners were leased to private companies for hard labor in often deplorable conditions. Prisoners were expected to labor from sunup to sundown mining phosphate or turpentine, clearing swamps, harvesting timber, or building roads.

Convicts Leased to Harvest Timber

Convicts leased to harvest timber

Florida Memory

Key Secondary Sources

  • Drobney, Jeffrey A. “Where Palm and Pine Are Blowing: Convict Labor in the North Florida Turpentine Industry, 1877-1923.” Florida Historical Quarterly 72.4 (1994): 411–434
  • Mancini, Matthew J. One Dies, Get Another: Convict Leasing in the American South, 1866-1928. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996.
  • Powell, J. C. The American Siberia; Or, Fourteen Years’ Experience in a Southern Convict Camp. Chicago, IL: H. J. Smith & Co., 1891.