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Texas Prison System (1955)

Texas Prison Museum

No Sound on Film | 1955

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TAMI Tags
  •  Members of the Texas Board of Corrections. (L-R) Unknown, French Robertson, Henry S. Paulus, Warren S. Bellows, H. H. Coffield, unknown 
  •  Mr. O. B. Ellis (General Manager of the Texas Prison System), Deanne McAdams (Ellis’ secretary), Dr. George Beto, W.W. Cardwell 
  •  O.B. Ellis 
  •  Richard Jones 
  •  Byron Frierson 
  •  A.G. McCain 
  •  New inmates arrive at the Walls Unit in Huntsville 
  •  Guard unlocks door to the “bullring” and searches inmates 
  •  Commissary employee sells items to an inmate 
  •  Inmates drop laundry  
  •  Inmate showers 
  •  The cell block 
  •  Bunks set up outside of cells due to overcrowding 
  •  Inmate that works as barber cuts another inmate’s hair 
  •  An inmate is fingerprinted 
  •  An inmate has his mugshot taken 
  •  Prison doctors gives inmate a shot 
  •  Another doctor draws an inmate’s blood 
  •  A doctor checks an inmate’s heart 
  •  A dentist examines an imate’s teeth 
  •  An inmate has his blood pressure taken 
  •  A doctor and prison employee take x-rays of an inmate 
  •  The prison hospital dorm 
  •  Employee George B. Mears interviews an inmate 
  •  Director of Education for the Texas Prison System, Alonzo Langley, interviews and inmate 
  •  Warden H.E. Moore talks to inmates in auditorium 
  •  Alonzo Langley interviewing inmate 
  •  Leon Hughes 
  •  A.C. Turner 
  •  W. F. Ramsey Unit (then named Ramsey 1 Unit) in Rosharon, Brazoria County 
  •  Line trailers (Ellis buggies) pulled by a Farmall, taking inmates to do farm labor 
  •  Inmate doing industrial labor 
  •  Front exterior of Wynne Unit in Huntsville 
  •  Scenes of prison farms and agricultural facilities 
  •  Front exterior of Central Unit in Huntsville 
  •  Inmates performing various factory jobs 
  •  Thomas Goree Unit in Huntsville 
  •  Inmates performing farm labor and working in various factory jobs 
  •   Retrieve State Farm in Brazoria County  
  •  Warden Gayther Bounds walking away from the Clemens Unit in Brazoria County, of which he was warden 
  •  Inmate before a committee including Warden H.E. Moore 
  •  Inmate before a committee including Leon W. Hughes 
  •  Inmate before a committee including Warden H.E. Moore 
  •  The prison yard at the Walls Unit 
  •  Construction of the Chapel of Hope at the Walls Unit 
  •  Inmates performing various mechanical jobs 
  •  Inmates at Tag Plant at Walls Unit making license plates 
  •  Inmates in chow line and eating in dining hall 
  •  Inmates hoeing and picking cotton  
  •  Women sewing in the garment factory in the Goree Unit 
  •  Guard searching an inmate 
  •  Leon Hughes on left in front 
  •  Chaplain McKee (L) and Warden H.E. Moore (R) 
  •  Warden Moore with guard at his desk 
  •  Inmate cowboy riding through cattle herd 
  •  Inmates filing into the Chapel of Hope at Walls Unit 
  •  Visiting room at Walls Unit 
  •  Inmate before a committee at Central Unit that includes Warden H.H. Husbands 
  •  Warden Hal Husbands 
  •  Inmate before committee with A.C. Turner (second from right) and Johnny Johnson (second from left) 
  •  Guard tower at Ramsey 1 
  •  Warden C.L. McAdams in center 
  •  Inmate mailing letter at the bulling in Walls Unit 
  •  Inmate baseball game at Walls Unit 
  •  Inmate boxing match at Walls Unit 
  •  Inmates in library 
  •  Inmate orchestra 
  •  Inmates in craft shop 
  •  The Prison Rodeo begins 
  •  H.H. “Pete” Coffield (R) introduces Governor Allan Shivers (L) at the Prison Rodeo 
  •  Inmates working various machines 
  •  Inmates in class and studying 
  •  Inmates in hospital at Walls Unit (working and as patients) 
  •  Guards dorm at Central 
  •  Prison outer building 
  •  Recreation yard on segregation wing at Walls Unit 
  •  Warden Howard Sublet, Wynne Unit 
  •  Deann Crews at her desk with Typewriter and inmate in release clothes 
  •  Inmates leaving on release from Walls Unit 
  •  The End 
 
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  • About the video
  • Allan Shivers Allan Shivers
  • H.H. "Pete" Coffield H.H. "Pete" Coffield
  • Dr. George Beto Dr. George Beto
  • Texas Locations
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This film from the Texas Prison Museum documents prison life in Texas in 1955. The film focuses primarily on the Texas State Penitentiary’s Huntsville Unit, commonly known as “Walls Unit”, and also captures scenes of the Ramsey Unit, Wynne Unit, Goree Unit, and Clemens Unit. The films begins with a meeting of the Texas Prison Board, the members of which were prominent men in the 1950s, many of whom now have Texas prisons named for them. In following scenes, inmates are interviewed by wardens and other prison employees, get haircuts, visit the prison hospital, participate in recreational activities, and attend services at the chapel on prison grounds. Throughout the film, prisoners are shown performing their assigned jobs, such as operating machines in factories, working cattle, and farming multiple crops on prison farms. Of note is a prison rodeo where Governor Allan Shivers kicks off the grand entry. The film concludes with inmates going through the release process and walking out of the front door as free men.
Allan Shivers was a Texas politician who held several offices spanning the legislative and executive branch.  Born in Lufkin, Texas in 1907, he entered the University of Texas after high school hoping to become a lawyer like his father. Shivers dropped out a year later but returned after a brief stint working at an oil refinery.  Ever determined to the make the most of his college career, he joined several student groups and became president of the Student's Association.  He practiced law in Port Arthur after graduation until 1934 when the 27-year-old ran for his first position in public office: state senator.  His campaign was successful, making him the youngest member of the Texas Senate.
 
After serving in the U.S. military during World War II, Shivers was elected as state lieutenant governor in 1946 and again as an incumbent in 1948.  He is credited with consolidating much of the executive branch's power into this position with roles including the choice of which senators serve on particular committees to setting daily agendas.  Shivers succeeded Governor Beauford Jester upon the latter's death in 1949 and held the position for the next 7 and 1/2 years.  Under this new position he helped create the Legislation Council, the Legislative Budget Board alongside other pieces of legislature, including tax increases that served to expand state services.
 
Shivers took on several controversial positions that marred his image in later years.  He supported Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower's bid for Presidency in 1952, seen as a traitorous move by his Democratic party.  Opposing Brown v. Board of Education and scandals involving his administration (such as the Veteran's Land Board Scandal) lost further support.
 
With his political life coming to an end, Shivers took on several leading roles at banks in Texas until gaining a six-year appointment to the University of Texas Board of Regents.  He helped raise funds for both the Law school and College of Communications (a $5 million grant) during this time.  Shivers passed away on January 14, 1985 after suffering from a heart attack.
Hubert Hardison "Pete" Coffield (1984-1979) is a prime example of a self- made man.  He sold newspapers as a young boy to help his family make ends meet after his father's death.  Pete was nine.  At thirteen, he worked in laundry delivery, buying a two-wheeled cart and donkey to pick up and return clothes.  Years later he paid his way through Baylor University with his own laundry business.  World War I interrupted his studies, and Coffield joined the Naval Air Corps, which led to his next job: selling military surplus materials.  The U.S. military had no use for many items after the war, so Coffield bought full train cars of these supplies at a time.  He made a fortune shipping them across state lines and selling them at 2,000-3,000 person auctions.
 
The Rockdale-Minerva oil field discovery turned these profits into land leases.  Part interest was sold to men who could handle all areas of oil drilling, and Coffield reaped in even more profits, especially during the Great Depression.  He moved on to ranching, industrial enterprises, and real estate in Houston.  The Texas Prison Board gave him a position in 1949.  He became a treasurer to the Texas Democratic Party and a powerful political figure, some said second only to Lyndon B. Johnson.
 
Coffield enjoyed entertaining friends at the Diamond H Ranch, hosting a hunting lodge, swimming pool, and an airfield (his love of aircraft persisted after the war).  His wife and son passed before Coffield's time in 1979.  Coffield divided his fortune between the Boy Scouts of America, the Salvation Army, and the Episcopal Diocese of Texas upon his death. 
 
Dr. George Beto (1916-1991) spent the early part of his adult life in seminary, teaching as a professor, and becoming an ordained Lutheran minister.  1953 set his future course in the prison system through his appointment to the Texas Prison Board.  There he helped establish the first General Education Development testing program.  Beto left the system for three years but never removed himself from that realm, visiting prisons across Europe while serving as president of Concordia Theological Seminary at Springfield, Illinois.
 
The Texas Department of Corrections brought Beto to serve as Director and Chief of Chaplains from 1962-72.  He focused on rehabilitation throughout his prison treks, spending much time speaking with prisoners in person rather than taking a less personal route.  Beto either enacted or urged the creation of several programs that assisted prisoners, some soon on their way out of the system, which included counseling, a work-release program, the first non-geographic public school district for inmates, and college-education programs.
 
Dr. Beto's critics included a group of twelve prisoners who successfully sued the prison director for "unlawful intimidation," and "unlawful punishments."  Beto, however, maintained a high standing among the system, gaining appointments to several prison boards and representing the U.S. at the United Nations Conference on Prevention of Crime and Treatment of the Offender three times in Japan, Switzerland, and Italy.
 
Beto worked at the Texas Youth Commission as Chief of Chaplains for a short time in 1991 until his death later that year.
TFC
1950s
1950’s
Texas Prison Museum
Texas Prison System
prison
prisons
Texas Department of Corrections
TDC
prisoner
prisoners
imate
inmates
Texas State Penitentiary
Huntsville
Walker County
state
state prison
state prisons
Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville
Huntsville Unit
“Walls”
Walls Unit
Walls
“Walls Unit”
Correctional Institutions Division
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
facility
facilities
flag
flags
American
Texan
Warren S. Bellows
Bellows, Warren S.
Warren Sylvanus Bellows
Bellows, Warren Sylvanus
exterior
entrance
H.H. Coffield
Coffield, H.H.
French M. Robertson
Robertson, French M.
French Robertson
Robertson, French
Henry S. Paulus
Paulus, Henry S.
Henry Swann Paulus
Paulus, Henry Swann
O.B. Ellis
Ellis, O.B.
Oscar B. Ellis
Ellis, Oscar B.
Dr. George John Beto
Dr. George Beto
George John Beto
George J. Beto
George Beto
Beto, George John
Beto, George J.
Beto, George
Texas Board of Corrections
W.W. Cardwell
Walter W. Cardwell
Cardwell, W.W.
Cardwell Walter W.
Walter Cardwell
Cardwell, Walter
Byron Frierson
Frierson, Byron
Richard Jones
Jones, Richard
A.G. McCain
McCain, A.G.
uniform
uniforms
intake
arrive
arrives
arriving
arrival
arrivals
cell
cells
jail
lock
locks
locking
locked
search
searches
searching
guard
guards
bullring
“Bullring”
commissary
employee
employees
cell block
shower
showers
showering
showered
laundry
clothes
bunk
bunks
overcrowded
overcrowding
population
prison population
hair
haircut
haircuts
cut
cuts
cutting
barber
barber shop
fingerprint
fingerprints
fingerprinted
fingerprinting
mugshot
mugshots
photograph
photographs
photographing
photographer
photographers
picture
pictures
doctor
doctors
prison doctor
prison doctors
shot
shots
medicine
syringe
syringes
blood
bloodwork
stethoscope
pulse
heart
heartbeat
dentist
dentists
tooth
teeth
exam
exams
examining
examination
examinations
blood pressure
x-ray
x-rays
x-raying
dorm
dorms
dormitory
dormitories
bed
beds
hospital
hospitals
interview
interviews
interviewing
George Mears
Mears, George
George B. Mears
Mears, George B.
Alonzo Langley
Langley, Alonzo
warden
wardens
committee
committees
board
boards
board member
board members
Leon Hughes
Hughes, Leon
A.C. Turner
Turner, A.C.
W. F. Ramsey Unit
Ramsey
Ramsey 1 Unit
Ramsey 1
Ramsey I
Rosharon
Brazoria County
trailer
trailers
line trailer
line trailers
Ellis buggy
Ellis buggies
Farmall
tractor
tractors
farm
farms
prison farm
prison farms
farmland
farmer
farmers
labor
prison labor
horse
horses
horseback
ride
riding
gun
guns
rifle
rifles
shotgun
shotguns
Wynne Unit
Wynne
John M. Wynne Unit
cow
cows
cattle
graze
grazes
grazing
bulldozer
bulldozers
farm equipment
equipment
combine
combines
field
fields
swine
pig
pigs
hog
hogs
H.E. Moore
Moore, H.E.
Warden H.E. Moore
Warden Moore
corn
pumpkin
pumpkins
hay
bale
bales
baling
baled
Central Unit
flour
sack
sacks
sacking
meat
meat packing
meat packer
meat packers
butcher
butchers
vegetable
vegetables
can
cans
canning
factory
assembly line
factories
plant
plants
Goree
Goree Unit
Thomas Goree Unit
maze
harvest
harvesting
brick
bricks
Clemens Unit
Gayther Bounds
Bounds, Gayther
Warden Gayther Bounds
Warden Bounds
Leon W. Hughes
Hughes, Leon W.
yard
prison yard
chapel
church
Chapel of Hope
weld
welding
welder
welders
tag plant
tag
tags
license plate
license plates
chow
dining hall
chow line
mess hall
dining room
watermelon
watermelons
eat
eats
eating
hoe
hoeing
hoes
cotton
crop
crops
cotton field
cotton fields
sew
sewed
sews
sewing
garment
garments
sewing machine
sewing machines
manufacture
manufacturing
cowboy
cowboys
herd
herds
herding
herded
tomato
tomatoes
melon
melons
Chaplain McKee
visit
visits
visiting
visitor
visitors
visiting room
friend
friends
family
H.H. Husbands
Husbands, H.H.
Hal Husbands
Husbands, Hal
Warden H.H. Husbands
Warden Husbands
Warden Hal Husbands
C.L. McAdams
McAdam, C.L.
Warden C.L. McAdams
Warden McAdams
Beartrack
“Beartrack”
letter
letters
mail
post
correspondence
mails
mailing
baseball
game
games
play
playing
team
player
players
coach
coaches
base
bases
bat
bats
batting
pitch
pitches
pitching
pitcher
pitchers
catch
catches
catching
catcher
catchers
box
boxes
boxing
match
matching
swing
swings
swinging
throw
throws
throwing
punch
punches
ring
boxing ring
library
libraries
librarian
librarians
book
books
orchestra
music
musical
instrument
instruments
band
musician
musicians
drums
bass
horn
horns
trumpet
trumpets
guitar
guitars
guitarist
guitarists
clarinet
clarinets
saxophone
saxophones
perform
performs
performing
performance
audience
craft
crafts
shop
craft shop
paint
painting
airbrush
airbrushing
leather
boot
boots
good
goods
crowd
spectator
spectators
rodeo
rodeos
rodeoing
event
events
Hubert Hardison "Pete" Coffield
H.H. Coffield
Pete Coffield
Hubert Hardison Coffield
Coffield, H.H.
Coffield, Pete
Coffield, Hubert Hardison
Robert Allan Shivers
Allan Shivers
Governor Allan Shivers
Governor Shivers
Shivers, Robert Allan
Shivers, Allan
parade
entry
grand entry
Hereford
Hereford Cattle
segregate
segregated
segregation
segregates
recreation
recreation yard
rec
rec yard
segregation wing
volleyball
construction
construct
constructs
constructing
build
builds
building
Howard Sublet
Sublet, Howard
Warden Howard Sublet
Warden Sublet
release
releases
released