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

D.M. Short to Governor Oran M. Roberts, July 19, 1879

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D.M. Short to Governor Roberts, July 1879


That during the administration of Sergeant Randal [sic] which
embraced a period of about four months[,] the evidence
discloses about 18 deaths in his camp[,] said camp
being situated on Lake Fork[,] a branch of the Sabine
River[,] of of [sic] which are reported to have died from dis-
ease and one killed by the guard in attempting to
escape, and although there was abundant testimony
to show that the region in which the camp was loca-
ted was low and unhealthy and that the fall
of 1878 was unusually sickly[,] yet the undersigned
is irresistably [sic] forced to the conclusion that much
of the mortality was produced by harsh treatment
and neglect on the part of Sergeant Randall and
those acting under his authority[,] and the evidence
discloses the further fact that in two or three cases
death was almost certainly produced by the harsh
and cruel treatment of the said Randall and
a subordinate by the name of Bounds.

The testimony further shows that the convicts
were frequently compelled to work by the said
Sergeant and his subordinates when they were physi-
cally enable [unable] to perform any manual labor[.] [O]utside
of the cruel treatment under Sergeant Randall the proof
is almost undeniable that the food furnished
said convicts was not only abundant but very
well prepared. It is further shown that Sergeant Ran-
dall [sic] camp was overcrow[d]ed and to some extent in
a filthy condition which of itself was calculated to
superinduce disease.

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D.M. Short to Governor Oran M. Roberts, July 19, 1879. Assistant Superintendent/Inspector, Reports, Records Relating to the Penitentiary, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

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