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

Committee Report on Investigation of Penitentiary, 1947

Page 6

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Committee Report on Investigation of Penitentiaries, 1947

15. Letters are being received every day by the
inmates informing them that money is being sent to them,
however, hardly ever does such money reach them.

16. Beatings are numerous among the men.

17. Men are handcuffed to the bars in the “schoolroom”
and made to stand there for hours. One man was handcuffed and
made to sit from 3:00 one day until 8:00 P.M. the next day
on his hands on the stool in the cell.

18. One man who had cut his fingers (3) off, was
taken directly to the dispensary and bandaged, but was then
beaten for 30 minutes with hose for mutilating himself.

The Committee found further that many men had blisters
on their feet which were unattended and which were horrible,
dirty, open infected sores with no evidence of medical care.
The skin was rotting away and yet the men were forced to work
all day standing on these sore feet. The shoes were unfit to
be worn and many worked barefoot because their feet were so
infected and they couldn’t wear their shoes.

Many men had cut off fingers, mutilated their feet and
cut the tendons of their legs in hopes of getting shipped from
this institution. They claimed they couldn’t stand the
beatings of the guards and took this way out to keep from being
killed in the fields by the guards. This story was told over
and over again word for word by many of the convicts.

There was found one man with deep sores on his wrists due
to the wearing of handcuffs in solitary confinement. He was
in confinement for four days and these sores had come there
due to the rubbing of the handcuffs when he attempted to lie and
sleep. He showed these sores to the Captain in charge and asked
for medical attention. The Captain had told him to dash some
mercurochrome on the sore and get to work in the fields. He
had worked the whole day with these sores on his hands and had
not had medical attention when seen by this Committee. The
sores were horrible to look at. There were too many of these types
of sores and blisters and raw rubbed sores on feet going un-
attended to and appearing infected and in horrible condition.
Medical attention surely is needed at this institution.

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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