Fear, Force, and Leather - The Texas Prison System's First Hundred Years, 1848-1948
The Perpetual Inquiry (1911-1927)
The Committee on Prisons and Prison Labor
Field officers in 1920. The officers wear their own clothing; uniforms were not issued until the 1950s. Topical photographs, photographs, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
An organization of Texas women, many of whom had been leaders of the women's suffrage movement, kept the issue of prison reform alive in the 1920s. The Texas chapter of Committee on Prisons and Prison Labor (CPPL) lobbied for studies of prison conditions, vocational training for convicts, and anti-crime reforms such as child welfare laws and strict enforcement of prohibition.
Violence would kick-start another round of reform. In 1925, an auditor sent by a legislative investigative committee was beaten up on the streets of Huntsville. Angry lawmakers put forth an amendment to the Texas constitution, approved by voters in 1926, which ended the governor’s control of the prison system. The three-member board of directors was abolished in favor of a new entity called the Texas Prison Board comprised of nine members serving overlapping terms. The board was authorized to hire a general manager to handle daily operations of the prison. This form of management would remain in place until the 1990s.