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

Minutes of the Special Session of the Penitentiary Board, November 30, 1909

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Penitentiary Board minutes, November 1909

In pursuance to a call by the Chairman of the Board, the
Board met in Special Session at Austin on the 30th day of November, 1909.
All members of the Board were present, with the Superintendent and Fin-
ancial Agent.

The report of the Legislative Investigation Committee, togeth-
er with correspondence between the Governor and Chairman Gilmore rela-
tive to the necessity for more specific information was laid before the
Board by the Governor for consideration and attention. The report and
special recommendations of the Penitentiary Investigating Committee in
regard to the Calvert Coal Mine were discussed generally. It was de-
termined by the Board and the Superintendent to visit at an early date
the coal mine and in company with private citizens and the State Mine
Inspector, make a careful inspection in order that suitable action
might be taken upon the Committee’s recommendations with respect thereto.

The Superintendent of the Penitentiaries reported that he had
again written the sergeants and provided them with new copies of the law
and rules and regulations, and impressed upon them in no uncertain
language that a strict adherence would be demanded and enforced.

The Superintendent was instructed to locate a physician at the
Ramsey Farm at $75.00 per month, and to instruct the physician at the
Imperial and Harlem Farms to visit the convicts at least three times per
week and oftener when called.

A Resolution was passed abolishing the offices of Superintend-
ent, Assistant Superintendent, and Treasurer of the State Railroad. The
Superintendent of the Penitentiaries and Financial Agent were instructed
to re-organize the management and fix salaries of the employees thereof.

The question of changing the rules as to corporal punishment
was considered and discussed, the following resolution being adopted by
the Board: “No punishment shall be administered except upon a written
order from an Inspector, and the rule as to the number of licks to be
administered for any offense was amended so as to hereafter read ‘not
more than twenty licks shall be administered for any one offense.’ Each
application and order for punishment shall be filed with the Board of
Penitentiary Commissioners by the Superintendent at its next Regular
meeting each month. No whipping shall be applied by any officer except
in the presence of the Prison Physician and a private citizen, whenever
practicable, and each report shall be endorsed by the Physician and
citizen, if present, and shall show the nature of the offense, the time
of punishment, and number of licks administered. The inspector shall
be required to spend one full day in each month at each Camp in his Dis-
trict and shall personally inspect the exposed bodies of the convicts
and ascertain what character of punishment has been administered, re-
porting immediately to the Superintendent of Penitentiaries, and the
Penitentiary Board, whether or not the punishment was excessive or in
any manner inhuman, and whenever it shall appear that in administering
punishment the law has been violated, or cruelly practiced, it shall be
the duty of the Inspector, and he is hereby commanded, to report such
violations to the nearest Magistrate and to furnish the name of the of-
ficial who has been guilty of said violation and such proof as is avail-
able, to the end that said official shall be properly prosecuted.”

The effort that is being made by the Officials in bettering
the Sanitary conditions of the prisons and farms and the general condi-
tion of the convicts was commended and they were further instructed to
do everything practicable for a continuation of this improvement.

The Assistant Superintendent and Assistant Financial Agent at
Rusk were instructed not to take any further steps in repairing the fur-
nace, nor to make further expenditures and contracts looking to the
operation of the furnace, until further instructed by the Board at its
next meeting in Rusk, Texas, on Wednesday, December 8th, 1909. The
Secretary of the Board was instructed to mail a copy of this Resolu-
tion to the Assistant Superintendent and Assistant Financial Agent at
Rusk.

The Board adjourned to consider other matters at its next
Regular Meeting on December 8th, 1909, at Rusk, Texas.

J.K. Bowman.
Sec’y Penitentiary Board.

APPROVED,

W.H. Gill
Chairman.

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Minutes of the special session of the Penitentiary Board, November 30, 1909. Board of Criminal Justice minutes and meeting files, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Page last modified: August 17, 2011