Continuing on with a look at the alphabet Behind Bars:
This might seem almost self-explanatory. Chain. Of course, chains are associated with restraint and prison is certainly the ultimate form of restraint, right? Yes, but even though chains are still used in the physical sense to restrain certain types of unruly or dangerous prisoners inside a prison unit (building), you might hear a lot of talk about a different sort of chain.
For example, you might hear someone ask “When’s the chain due?” or “How many are on the chain?” or they might say “Old Soandso’s gone on the chain.” Or you might even hear someone shouting “Chain Time!”
Naturally, unless you have had the misfortune of being incarcerated on the ‘inside’ or working there or possibly visiting someone incarcerated in a prison, you might be confused by this use of the word ‘chain’.
In these cases, Chain refers to the Bluebird bus (known as Bluebirds of Happiness) that brings the prisoners to the prison unit from the county jailsand eventually takes them away to some other unit or facility. The expression grew out of the fact that prisoners in transport are always transported in hand cuffs, leg irons (larger cuffs that fit the ankles), black-boxes (cuff covers) and sometimes belly chains (lengths of chain connecting the hand cuffs and leg irons to a chain wrapped around the waist.) There are also chains on some of the buss to which the prisoners individual chains are attached while they are in transport. These precautions are almost always necessary to ensure that the prisoners remain with the bus even if it falls over the edge of a 2000 foot cliff, although most of the bus drivers and shotgun riders wish to avoid that sort of thing. Even though these restraints may sometimes seem excessive to some people, prisoners have been known to escape from buses and vans while the the vehicles are in motion without the knowledge of the driver or the shotgun rider. Sad, but true and extremely embarrassing… or so it would seem, for the officers involved. At least falling over a cliff would provide a more reasonable excuse for losing a prisoner in mid transit.