Speeches delivered by Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas, discussing certain phases of contemplated legislation Page: 48 of 61
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women stay brings in no revenue. They do but little work.
Counting all cost this year connected with the handling and support
of the women convicts, will aggregate $35,000. These three departments
of the penitentiary are a constant and direct drain on the financial
system of the institution.
Two YEARS WITH THE PENITENTIARY.
Two years ago, when I became Governor, there was no money in
the penitentiary purse. The year preceding was behind one million
dollars on running expenses. The entire penitentiary system was
run down. The fences had not been kept up. The buildings were
all unpainted and many of the barns were dilapidated. It took
$80,000 a month to feed, clothe, guard and care for the prisoners.
We had no money. The Legislature declined, to make an appropriation
for the care of the convicts. We could not let them starve
or turn them out. More than four thousand people had to be fed
every day. The prisoners had to be guarded. We, therefore when
we could not run on credit any longer, went into the open market
and borrowed $700,000 to be spent for back debts and operating
expenses. That money was used as economically as possible. The
books are open and show where every dollar was spent. The prison
system for the past two years has been operated at a cost of $260,000
a year cheaper than the average of the four preceding years. This
saving of over a half million dollars was made, notwithstanding the
prison population increased in those two years from 2400 to nearly
Many valuable improvements have been made in the prison system
in the past two years. More than 1700 acres of land has been
cleared and will be put in cultivation in 1923. Many miles of new
fences have been built, new ditches have been made on the various
farms. New prison buildings have been erected, repaired or made
over. Twenty-five hundred new spring beds have been installed in
the prison buildings, and it may be safely said today that the convicts
are better fed, better clothed and better housed than ever in
the history of the prison system of Texas.
Both 1921 and 1922 were very disastrous years so far as financial
returns are concerned. The entire corn and cotton crops were destroyed
by a tropical storm in June, 1921. From a cotton crop
which should have yielded 15,000 bales of cotton, less than 1500
bales were gathered. The corn crop was almost an entire failure.
In 1922 there were two very serious overflows, destroying twenty
thousand acres of growing crops. That necessitated the replanting
of this land late in June. Therefore the yield was very light, and for
that reason the prison system's finances are necessarily in bad shape
for, regardless of what crop may be sold or what revenue may be
received, there is a fixed charge for maintaining the prison system
that averages around $80,000 per month. I have not heard of any
Brazos bottom farmers making any money the past two years. Most
of them have about gone broke.
Here’s what’s next.
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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/m1/48/: accessed December 16, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .