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

Committee Report on Investigation of Penitentiary, 1947

Page 7

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Committee Report on Investigation of Penitentiaries, 1947

It was found that the men were hesitant to give information
to the Committee, dreading to talk because they said each man
who was seen talking would be whipped severely or other things
happen to him by the guards after the Committee had left.

The Committee left Darrington and drove to Retrieve and
there they inspected the prison. The conditions here were clean.
The men complained of tear gas, cruel treatment by guards, cursings,
etc. This is the farm of the most desperate criminals on [sic] the
whole system. Only that morning a convict escaped but was
tracked down by blood hounds and returned to the prison. Use of
the Solitary, mutilation cases and other criminal acts were
prevalent among the prisoners. By large and far, the Captain
told us that the greatest crime going on in the prison was
the crime of sodomy among the men. One related he was
attacked at night by 28 men—had been held at point of a
knife at his throat and made to submit. Many men have their
“girls” and fight over them. Sodomy is the crime of crimes
at the penitentiary and is prevalent at every place. Captain
Hinds, in charge of the Prison, pleaded for better guards and
higher pay, living quarters for the families of guards and the
authority to make men work when they didn’t want to work. He
begged for more efficient personnel. He said only when
separate cells are provided would the crime of sodomy be stamped
out.

It might be added that the Committee found in Darrington
Prison Farm one man in bed unattended with an actual fever of
104.2 who was having a severe chill. This man was taken by
the Committee request and placed in sick bay. It was reported
to the committee that this man had been reported sick for two
days and nothing had been done to aid him.

After spending the night at Retrieve farm, the Committee
left for Austin at 8:00 A.M. Arrived at Austin at 12:30 P.M.
in completion of the trip.

As a whole the entire prison system and its management
was found in very good condition with the exception of the Wynn[e]
Farm which was very dirty and very unsanitary, and it appeared
to the Committee that the Manager of the above farm has no

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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