Don't want 'chain gangs'? How about press gangs aboard merchant ships? Hulls need to be needle chipped, brightwork needs polishing, metal needs to be painted, bilges need cleaning, decks need holystoning, engineering needs greasing, etc.
It gets them out of the nation, teaches them a trade, reduces escapes onto U.S. territories, and malcontents can ride out their protestations in the brig under Admiralty law.
Work the way out or suffer the consequences.
Dear God, this is one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard. It's got to rank right up there with CALEA. -Pepper45
Bastard! - TBO