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

be absent. For a reasonable compensation an individual of
capacity and integrity could be had, whose duty should be to
make all purchases, enter into contracts, make all sales, keep the
books of the institution, and on his draft countersigned by the
Superintendant [sic] or directors, let payment be made.

We also think that it would be advantageous to the State
if a portion of the appropriation was from time to time placed
in the hands of some officer of the institution at this place for
disbursement. [C]ontracts could be entered into on better terms.

At the same time proper checks should be thrown round it
to prevent an abuse or mismanagement.

We believe that an amendment to the Penitentiary code as to
term of imprisonment is much needed. [M]any are sent for one year[.]
[T]he expense of transportation will average eighty dollars for each
convict and could they be profitably engaged would not meet
expenses. [W]e would suggest three years as the minimum.

It has been suggested to us by the Superintendant [sic], that
convict No 10 had better be discharged[.] [H]e has been some eighteen
months in confinement and from the bad state of his health has
been of no service, nor is their [sic] the least prospect of an improve-

Enclosed we forward you a few copies of our revised rules for
the government of the Penitentiary and hope they will meet with
your approbation.

Our report and accompanying exhibits have been detained
beyond the proper time. But your excellency is aware of the difficulty
under which we labored in relation to the plan which did not come
to hand until the first day of November, without which an estimate
could not be made.

We believe an improvement of the plan could be made diminishing
the cost and adding facilities should the institution ever be converted
into a manufactory.


Respectfully submitted

John S Besser
R. Smither
Wm McBarrett


Huntsville Texas. Nov 10. 1851


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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