Slaves were at an utter disadvantage and powerless as they were designated legal properties of their owners. Authorized to use punitive measures, slave owners and their families deployed severe methods on the least pretext to ensure slave obedience (Slavery in the United States). A variety of objects and contraptions such as the more commonly used whip, shackles, chains, metal collars, knives, guns, field tools, forced walking on the treadmill and even hanging were used to quell any disobedience or rebellion. Reasons for punishments ranged from breaking a law like leaving the plantation without permission, running away, not following orders or slow work, often punishing them in front of others to make an example of them (Slavery in the United States). In fact, the law required slave owners to mandatorily discipline recaptured runaway slaves or face fines. Owners also constantly blackmailed slaves with the threat of sale of their family members to distant plantations, never to be seen again.