Criminal Justice Clipping Collection, 1864-2011


Credit to the Huntsville Item

The Texas Criminal Justice Newspaper Clipping Collection (1864-2011; three boxes) contains newspaper clippings concerning criminal justice in the state of Texas.  The collection’s main focus is the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and includes many articles from the Huntsville Item and various other publications.  The Texas Criminal Justice Newspaper Clipping Collection contains many Texas prison subjects including: death row, prison personnel, prison administration, facilities, escapes, convict labor, the prison rodeo, court cases, corruption, and female inmates.

The picture featured above is an article from the Huntsville Item concerning the possible ending of the Texas Prison Rodeo which was held in Huntsville, TX.

View a detailed finding aid of his collection at Sam Houston State University’s Archon page and see just what materials are in the collection.

Criminal Justice Clipping Collection finding aid

James V. Bennett visiting with a prisoner in his cell


James V. Bennett speaking to a prisoner in a prison cell

James V. Bennett played a vital role in the creation and initial operation of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Bennett began his federal government career in 1919 when he was named an Investigator for the U.S. Bureau of Efficiency. Bennett penned “The Federal Penal and Correction Problem” in 1928, which was vital as a catalyst for the creation of the Bureau of Prisons. As Director, Bennett, was a very active reformer of correctional policies and was an advocate for the rights of prison inmates. He was instrumental in opening special institutions for juveniles, rehabilitation centers and halfway houses.These efforts are reflected in his mantra that “We must not rob a man of all hope.” The first “open prison’ was instituted by Bennett in 1938 in Seagonville, Texas. This was a no walls, no bars and a gun free facility. He became president of the National Parole Conference in 1939 and later served as President of the Washington Council of Social Agencies. The Celler-Hennings Act was enacted in 1958 as a result of Bennett’s advocacy for more equity in the process of federal sentencing. The Act empowered the Federal Bureau of Prisons to make sentencing recommendations to the judiciary as well as recommendations relating to sentencing reform.

View photographs from the James V. Bennett Collection, 1905-1971: here

View Finding Aid for the James V. Bennett Collection, 1905-1971 : here

Prison 101

Guest column from Trent Shotwell


Every day the Texas Department of Criminal Justice houses, transports, and supervises over 150,000 inmates making it the second largest prison system in the nation.  The inmate population exploded in the early nineties due to stricter laws and stiffer penalties in Texas courts.  Penitentiaries are undoubtedly a big business in Texas and the average person can be unfamiliar with life on the inside.  Fortunately, Prison 101 by Mark Bull is just the book for anyone who may be interested in Texas prison life and culture.  Mark Bull graduated with a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Sam Houston State University  an Associate Degree in Industrial Security from the Community College of the Air Force.

Bull was a supervisor for The Texas Department of Criminal Justice and has been a consultant for jail and prison management.  Prison 101 was designed as a pre-incarceration orientation for soon to be big house residents and covers many penitentiary topics both expected and unexpected.  This interesting and hard-to-find paperback addresses prison survival, including inmate tricks and games, dangerous situations, and hoosegow terminology.   Even if someone is not on their way to the penitentiary, Prison 101 gives insight into the dangers lurking behind those razor wire fences.  The book provides vital information for the prison bound and even covers what to expect if you have family that may be incarcerated.

Prison 101 can be found in the Thomason Room CJ Special Collection.

Trent Shotwell is a Library Assistant in Thomason Special Collections at the Newton Gresham Library. He previously worked for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for 3 years and the Texas Prison Museum for 9 years.