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

Committee Report on Investigation of Penitentiary, 1947

Page 5

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Committee Report on Investigation of Penitentiaries, 1947

found the following gripes the most prevalent:

1.   Men were whipped in the fields by [sic] rubber hoses.

2.   Guards curse the men at all times.

3.  Guards use tear gas every night on the men. Put
shells in the circulators and let it blow down on them over
the entire building.

4.   Men put in Solitary Confinement on little or no
cause. Left there for days handcuffed. As many as 6 men are
put in at a time handcuffed together so they can’t sleep.
Not enough room to lie down—its [sic] too crowded.

5.   Clothing is filthy and clean clothes are given
out once per month.

6.   The laundry is terrible.

7.   The men have no spoons to eat with at meals.

8.   The shoes on the men are found to be old and worn
out—improperly fitted and as a result the blisters are
numerous on the feet of the inmates.

9.   The food given to the men in Solitary Confinement
is found to be: 4 spoonfuls of water gravy, 1 spoonful of
beans, small piece of dry salt bacon, 3 biscuits and water.
No milk or coffee. This they have every 36 hours as a square
meal.

10. The men on this farm complain they never have
milk to drink-neither do they have butter.

11. There is allowed no talk at night above a whisper
without the use of tear gas by the guards.

12. The Guards are brutal and strike the inmates at
the slightest provocation. Cursing the men goes on all day
long.

13. The Medical attention is poor. The Doctor is too
old to give the proper attention to the men. Dr. Austin, the
doctor, seemed to be about the worst hated man in the institution.
This doctor, the Captain admitted, was about useless as a doctor
to the men due to his age. This doctor is found to be close
to 80 years old and is in charge of four of such farms as these.

14. A man reported his teeth were pulled out 24 months
ago and to this day he had been provided with no false teeth.
He is forced to eat regular meals without being given teeth nor
soft foods to compensate.

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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