American Chain Gang, a feature length documentary,
profiles the experiences of the prisoners and officers of the
recently revived male chain gang and the world's first female
This film examines the conditions of these people as they participate
in these intense and highly controversial programs. American
Chain Gang, investigates the impact of the controversial
practice of chaining inmates during forced chained labor. Five
prisoners and two officers are profiled before, during and after
their release from the chain gang, thus documenting the true
impact of the modern chain gang.
The documentary investigates this controversial prison policy
through the words and actions of those who it most effects.
By giving equal time to both prisoners and corrections officials,
the film provides an objective perspective of these environments.
However, by presenting the long term effects of this publicity-driven
and punitive practice, it ultimately documents the consequent
futility and hostility of this controversial prison policy.
Praise for American Chain Gang
"American Chain Gang is a bracing look at the resurgence
of the work-detail in prisons, stopping first with the sweat-dripping
all male chain gangs out straight out of Jim Crow before moving
on to innovations like an all female gang in Arizona, a dubious
first in the history of corrections."
-- Gary Dauphin, The Village Voice
"Irving's documentary offers sad evidence of the increasing
mean-spiritedness of American penology."
-- Steven Holden, The New York Times
"Sharply crafted," "American Chain Gang is a powerful,
disturbing documentary about a practice that makes certain
corners of the United States seem as enlightened as the Soviet
-- Godfrey Cheshire, New York Press
"Irving gives to his first feature-length film a true grasp
of documentary style, economical and tough. His film provide
an unblinking look at a harsh world that many of us never
give much thought to, let alone see."
-- Jerry Renshaw, Austin Chronicle
Irving (pictured with camera) and his crew
spent 11 weeks with chain gang inmates in
Alabama and Arizona to make American Chain Gang.
Director: Xackery Irving
Producer: Xackery Irving
Executive Producer: Carole Dean
Camera: Xackery Irving
Editors: Ian Rummer ,Stephanie Casey, Xackery Irving
Additional Editing: David Elo-Dean, Michael Gallaway,
Kevin McGuinness, John Naughton, Ian Rummer, Wes Sandel
Production Consultant: George Stoney