Fear, Force, and Leather: The Texas Prison System&rsquot;s First Hundred Years 1848-1948

Directors of the State Penitentiary to Governor Peter H. Bell, November 11, 1851

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Directors of the state penitentiary to Governor Bell, November 1851

bound to be on the increase. The transportation of convicts since
March 1st 1850 has been over three thousand dollars and will under
the present law, rise to near that amount yearly. The clothing and
rations are under contract 18 ¾ cents per ration is the contract price
and the clothing equally reasonable. The employees of the Penitentiary
at this time consist of a sergeant of the guard at $35 per month
and six guards at $30 per month, a master workman in the wagon
making business at $50 per month since Decr 1st 1850 which affords
a fine article of customer work. Physician’s bills as per contract
have been in the last 19 months $145 but with an increase in numbers
it will be larger. The health of the convicts until this summer has
been good, during the latter part of which considerable sickness
has prevailed, though no deaths up to Sep 30, 1851, except S.P.
Terry[,] a convict from Jefferson County, who was shot in an attempt
to wrest a gun from the hands of another guard. Their [sic] has [sic] been
five escapes, three of whom was [sic] retaken and brought back, the other
two are still at large. The cells in point of cleanliness are well
attended to, being white washed [sic], and lime strewed in the space
between the outer wall and cells. The directors in the matter of
the death of Terry instituted an investigation and from the evi-
dence before them, and the admissions of Terry to the Superinten-
dant [sic], we deemed the act justifiable. It has been our desire and
endeavour, in guarding the interest of the state on the one hand,
to guard equally with a vigilant eye, the respective interests
of the industrial pursuits of our citizens on the other. All institutions
of this character, will injure to a great extent, the mechanical
branches within its range. But it should also be the policy of
those who have the power, to restrict that influence, if they
cannot destroy it. Situated as we are in the South, with southern
principles and veins, in as fine a cotton growing region
of country as is in the world, would it not be the true policy
of our Legislature to pursue that course, that would enable
an [sic] “State Penitentiary” to be converted into a manufactory of
cotton fabrics. We have the raw material, and only ship it

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Directors of the State Penitentiary to Governor Peter H. Bell, November 11, 1851. Correspondence Concerning the Penitentiary, Records Relating to the Penitentiary, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Page last modified: February 9, 2016