The administration of the Texas prison system
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The Prison System of Texas has, like many institutions, gradually evolved by historical development. Beginning in 1842, it has grown from a mere handful of prisoners and property of very little value, until there is now a prison population of several thousand and prison property to the value of nearly eight million dollars. There have been about three typical forms of responsibility and management appearing at different times in the administration of the Texas Prison System. The earliest form placed the responsibility upon the Governor of the State, with the prison directors and superintendent as aids. The Governor uniformly appointed the directors and superintendent during this period. After 1883, the superintendent and commissioners (or directors) were given more power. However, the Governor continued to appoint these officials. This period lasted until 1910. In 1910, the superintendency was abolished, and the Board of Prison Commissioners became supreme. In 1912 an amendment to the State Constitution made the Board of Prison Commissioners constitutional. This third period has continued since that date. A reaction from this third stage has appeared. In 1921, an attempt was made to abolish the Board of Prison Commissioners. It failed to carry. The Thirty-ninth Legislature again proposed an amendment abolishing the Board. This measure will be voted on in November, 1926. No prison system has ever been satisfactory. The Texas system is not an exception. The great number of Legislative investigations indicate that our law makers have not been satisfied, while the press of the State has voiced in a general way the attitude of the public. The relocation controversy is simply one phase of the great question of improving our penal system. Many plans of reorganization have been suggested. Perhaps, none of these plans are perfect, but most of them contain some good features. The most hopeful sign of the whole matter is that the people of our State are gradually awakening to the fact that reformation, and not punishment, should be the paramount purpose of our prison system.