Speeches delivered by Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas, discussing certain phases of contemplated legislation Page: 45 of 61
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at the penitentiary and in all the other State institutions. The Highway
Department of the State, for illustration, is spending this year
about $67,000 for automobile number plates. These, and other similar
things, many of them now used by the State, should be made in the
penitentiary. A cannery should be established and potatoes, peas, beans,
figs, and all kinds of farm and garden truck that grows so abundantly
on these farms should be canned, not only for the entire penitentiary
system, but for use at other State institutions. The purpose of these
industrial plants should be two-fold: first, to utilize the labor of the
penitentiary in turning the State's raw material into goods to be used
by State institutions; second, to train the convicts in a productive
trade. I would take about 250 selected convicts and make a gentleman's
contract with them as to commutation of their time, and work
them without guards on the public roads of Texas. The State owns
on the coast country abundant cement material. I would work about
fifty men making cement and other material for road building, to be
furnished at cost for public highway building. I would designate one
of the farms as "Honor Farm" and place prisoners on that farm on
their honor to work under the direction of a superintendent but without
guards. I would riot bind them, as in days of old, "with fetters of
brass and make them grind in the prison house."
REMOVAL OF PENITENTIARY.
Some thought has been given and some discussion had by the people
generally as to the wisdom of selling the present penitentiary farms and
moving the entire system to some other place. Having given conservative
study to this question for two years, I find myself unable to agree
with the proponents of this proposition. I am for the concentration and
readjustment of our penitentiary system. I would sell the Shaw Farm
in Bowie County, consisting of 4,688 acres, against which there is a
debt of fifty thousand dollars. I would sell the Ferguson Farm in
Madison County, consisting of 4,320 acres, against which there is also
a debt of fifty thousand dollars. I would sell the Wynne Farm in
Walker County, consisting of 1,976 acres. I would sell the Goree
Farm, of but little value, in Walker County, consisting of 1,000 acres.
The Eastham Farm in Houston County, consisting of 13,000 acres,
6,000 acres being in cultivation, on which extensive improvements have
been made, costing, without counting labor, $136,000, and having on
it a fine artesian well of hot water, which is piped through the buildings,
I would convert into a home for the some seven hundred negro
boys now in the Reformatory at Gatesville, leaving the Gatesville plant
for the white boys now mixed there with the negroes. I would convert
the old penitentiary plant at Huntsville into an asylum for the insane.
This would take the insane out of the jails of Texas. I would keep
the seven penitentiary farms$ all being within a radius of fifty miles
and easily accessible to each other, in Brazoria and Fort Bend Counties,
aggregating 53,853 acres, and build a new penitentiary plant on
one of these centrally located farms.
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Neff, Pat M. Speeches delivered by Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas, discussing certain phases of contemplated legislation, book, 1923; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth5835/m1/45/: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .