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Chain gains are inhuman

May 19, 1995

Regarding the editorial ''Chain Gang Reaction,'' May 5: Treating prisoners as shackled slaves is inhuman in the extreme. That such treatment may ''save money for the state of Alabama'' only displays in hyperbole the blinding stupidity of believing that ''the bottom line'' should dominate basic human values and rights. Those responsible for such a heinous policy should be placed in the stock for all to see and to shame.

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French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau was right: The chains of ignorance and crippling racial prejudice are more destructive of human freedom than iron shackles. Real chain gangs have produced rousing songs of freedom. The oppressive chain of permanent poverty is worse than chafing shackles.

Allan Shields, Mariposa, Calif.