The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993 Page: 28
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Southwestern Historzcal Quarterly
tently, however, Moody contributed to the prison's difficulties and
helped destroy a visionary enterprise conceived to place Texas in the
vanguard of modern correctional techniques. This study will explore
the reformers' agenda, evaluate the results of their efforts during the
Moody administration, and conclude that failure to adopt the reform
program represented a missed opportunity to avoid the most pro-
tracted prisoners' lawsuit in the nation's history.'
Antebellum governments in Texas and most other states created
penitentiaries to supplant barbaric punishments such as execution,
whipping, branding, implacement in stocks, and banishment. Hoping
to rehabilitate social deviants through a regimen of hard work, disci-
pline, and enforced contemplative silence, penal theorists believed they
could protect and convert such individuals by removing them from a
disorderly environment. By the eve of the Civil War, penitentiary expo-
nents professed extreme disappointment at the outcome of the move-
ment, as institutions devolved into custodial structures that encouraged
brutal corporal practices comparable to those of the pre-penitentiary
era. Indeed, later generations have also experienced similar dissatisfac-
tion with the outcome of their attempts at reform.4
The Civil War's aftermath diverted southern penology away from the
rehabilitative notions that prevailed in other regions. Depleted state
treasuries and demands by incipient capitalists for controllable labor
influenced the advent of new methods in the former Confederate
states, but attitudes toward race may have affected policies as much as
economic factors did. Slavery's abolition and rapidly expanding prison
populations resulting from the presence of freedmen and their descen-
dants drastically altered antebellum practices that had not differed
markedly from those in northern states. Since blacks composed the
'Moody called a record five special sessions of the Forty-first Legislature m 1929-1930 Four
of the five sessions dealt with prison relocation. See Texas Legislature, House Journal, 41st
Leg., 1st Called Sess., 1929, p 2, Ibid, 2nd Called Sess, 150; Ibid., 3rd Called Sess (this ses-
sion did not deal with the prison issue), Ibid., 4th Called Sess., 2-3, and Ibid., 5th Called Sess ,
2. Governor William P Clements, Jr., called six sessions of the Seventy-first Legislature during
1989-1990 to break Moody's record. Texas Legislature, Senate Journal, 71st Leg., 6th Called
Sess , 199o.
4Crow, "A Political History," 21-22; David J Rothman, The Discovery of the Asylum Soczal
Order and Disorder in the New Republic (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1971), xviil-xlx, 48-64,
79-88, 238-264, Blake McKelvey, American Prisons A History of Good Intentions (Montclair,
N.J : Patterson Smith, 1977), 6-31, 34-62, 95-98, 381-384; Edward L. Ayers, Vengeance and
Justice. Crime and Punishment in the 19th-Century American South (New York. Oxford University
Press, 1984), 34-35, 41--59 Prior to the advent of penitentiaries, local alls served as detention
facilities for debtors and persons awaiting trial or sentencing following conviction. Myra C.
Glenn, Campaigns Against Corporal Punishment: Pruoners, Sazlors, Women and Children in Ante-
bellum Amerzca (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1984), 34-36; David J. Roth-
man, Consczence and Convenience The Asylum and Its Alternativer in Progressive America (Boston:
Little, Brown, and Co., 19g8o), 10-12, 32-34, 143-151, 420o-421.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993, periodical, 1993; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/m1/54/: accessed August 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.