The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990

Book Reviews

relinquishment of penal facilities and inmates to private contractors
who employed convicts in prison-based industry or sublet them to rail-
road builders. Lessees agreed to maintain all prison property, provide
upkeep and medical care for prisoners, defray salaries of officials and
guards, and pay the state either a specific or per-prisoner lease fee.
During the second phase, from 1883 to 1912, the state retained control
of the prisons and leased inmates for use on privately owned farms.
Expiration of these contracts, which coincided with revelations of bru-
tality in the work camps, citizen protests, and a legislative investigation,
marked the end of leasing.
The author is especially effective in developing constant themes,
some of them still alive. Public sympathy for prisoner welfare, but per-
haps more concern over legislative spending; both prison and county
jail overcrowding; the influence of partisan politics on penitentiary ad-
ministrative appointments; brutal treatment of inmates and the need
for professionalism in the guard force; and society's age-old debate
over the purpose of prison as punishment or rehabilitation-these
issues reinforce eight readable chapters that blend detail and inter-
pretation. Walker correctly assesses Thomas J. Goree's relatively en-
lightened superintendency as an exception and builds a convincing
case for Texas in relation to overall southern penal trends. But the at-
tempt to place Texas in national context is underdeveloped, and discus-
sion of Progressive-Era reformers excludes mention of several promi-
nent figures. Bibliographic oversights are few, and use of published
reports, legislative documents, newspapers, governors' papers, and the
few existing memoirs is comprehensive.
Missing from the author's research, however, is reliance upon origi-
nal penitentiary records, such as prisoner and medical books, superin-
tendents' files, and financial ledgers. This deficiency is understandable.
For too long records management in Texas prisons conformed to a na-
tional pattern that disregarded systematic retention, disposal, and mi-
crofilming policies. Too many of the huge leather- and canvas-bound
volumes, their contents often at odds with sanitized official reports,
do not survive. Their loss impairs the definitiveness of an otherwise
solid work.
Southwest Texas State University JAMES A. WILSON
A History of the American Rice Industry, r 685 -1985. By Henry C. Dethloff.
(College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1988. Pp. xiii+215.
Preface, introduction, tables, notes, illustrations, bibliography, in-
dex. $29.50.)

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/. Accessed September 19, 2014.