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

Committee Report on Investigation of Penitentiary, 1947

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Committee Report on Investigation of Penitentiaries, 1947

TO: Honorable Beauford H. Jester, Governor
Honorable Wiley Wyatt, Chairman of Prison Board
Major D.W. Stakes, Prison Manager
House of Representatives
Senate

COMMITTEE REPORT ON INSTITUTION OF PENITENTIARIES:

The Legislative Committee on Investigation of State
Penitentiaries and the Farm System was composed of the fol-
lowing members of the State Legislature: Senators Craw-
ford, Lane, and Knight, Representatives Sellers, Etheredge,
Jones of Travis, Gandy, Davis, Gardner, Holstein, Moore of
Harris, McDaniel, Slimp, Abington, Yezak, Shannon, Spacik,
Stockard, Turner, and Gregory.

This Committee left Austin at 3:00 P.M. on Thursday,
April 10, 1947 and arrived in Huntsville at the Main Prison
at approximately 7:00 P.M. Supper was served the members
and the party and after the meal a program which is usually
presented every Wednesday night over the Texas State Network
was previewed by the Committee.

In inspections held after breakfast the next morning
of the whole of the Main Prison, The [sic] members were shown the
Hospital, Death Row, Psychopatic [sic] ward, Inmates quarters,
Factories, Power Plant, the Administrative Set up and other
places of interest around the prison.

The Committee left the main prison at 9:30 A.M. and drove
the distance to the Wynn[e] Farm. The Committee inspected the
mess facilities and quarters of the inmates. The following
were the most persistent gripes among the inmates:

a.   The men are put in tanks (all together) where
crime is further bred. Sodomy being the worst crime there
committed regularly and consistently.

b.   Tear gas is used extensively and often on the tanks.
Especially in the ward where the men are in Solitary Confine-
ment (locked in separate cells.) If any one man causes trouble,
tear gas in large quantities is shot in the cells and all
the men suffer for the wrongs of one man. This was the most
consistent gripe of all the men.

c.   Linens are filthy. The men are allowed a change
of clothing very irregularly. Drinking cups and spoons (both

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Committee Report on Investigation of Penitentiary, 1947. Records of Governor Beauford Jester, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Page last modified: August 17, 2011