Arizona Prison Shackles Female Inmates in Chain Gang
What looked like a prison scene from an old Hollywood movie is actually a modern day female chain gang in Phoenix, Arizona.
The women are serving time at the same jail famous for its tent city, where inmates are forced to stay outside in sweltering heat. Now, the jail is also home to the only female chain gang in America.
The women start their day at 5 a.m. One by one, their boots are locked to the iron shackles. They head out at dawn, eating a breakfast of stale bread and peanut butter as they travel to a field.
Inmate Vika Creech told INSIDE EDITION, "We're connected from the boots at the ankle."
Hooked together by heavy clanging chains, the inmates clear brush and pick up trash. It's dirty, dusty, grueling work.
Another inmate, Erica Martinez said, "I don't like it at all."
The exhausting labor is made even more difficult by their awkward iron chains.
Creech said, "We always lose our balance and trip."
Creech said after she finished college, she started abusing drugs and that's what landed her in jail. She never thought she'd spend her days shackled to other women while digging up weeds.
"I never though I'd be on the chain gang," said Creech.
In every place but Phoenix, Arizona, chain gangs were phased out by the mid 1950's. Most critics call it inhumane and degrading.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio told INSIDE EDITION, "As long as I'm the sheriff this program continues, I wont change anything regardless of the critics."
Sheriff Arpaio, who's known for implementing controversial programs, said the chains are needed to keep the inmates in line.
"I hook them together so if somebody escapes, they're all going to have to escape," he said.
Surprisingly, some members of the chain gang actually like the work.
Creech said, "The military style of it and just the self discipline really helps us a lot."
For Creech and other inmates, the chains could be their key to walking a path along the straight and narrow.