Texas Department of Corrections:
An Inventory of Department of Corrections Research and Development Division Administrative Reports at the Texas State Archives, 1972-1976, 1978
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) manages offenders in state prisons, state jails and contracted private correctional facilities. The agency also provides funding and certain oversight of community supervision and is responsible for the supervision of offenders released from prison on parole or mandatory supervision. The Department of Criminal Justice came into being in 1848 when "An Act to Establish a State Penitentiary" was passed by the Second Texas Legislature. The act established a governing body of the penitentiary as a three-member Board of Directors, appointed by the Governor, with the approval of the Senate. The Board was responsible for creating and distributing a set of rules and bylaws for the administration of the penitentiary, overseeing the treatment of convicts, preparing an annual inventory of property, and making an annual report to the Governor. Over the years, the name and composition of the Board changed. While its basic functions were not greatly altered, some duties were added. These included acquiring land for the Huntsville and Rusk facilities, purchasing machinery, effecting repairs, leasing the penitentiaries, leasing convicts for outside labor, purchasing and/or leasing farms for the employment of convicts, and providing for the transfer of convicts from county jails to the penitentiary. During the 19th century the direct management of the prison was through the inspector, later known as the superintendent. Other officers included assistant superintendents, inspectors of outside camps, the financial agent, and physicians. The superintendent and financial agent had the most direct dealings with the Board and the Governor in the management of the prison system.
The Texas prison system began as a single institution, located in Huntsville, known as the Huntsville Penitentiary. Convicts were put to work in various shops and factories housed within the institution. In 1871, the legislature directed that the penitentiary be leased to private individuals (Chapter 21, 12th Legislature, 1st Called Session). These men, known as lessees, paid the state for the convict labor and use of facilities, and in turn, managed the system, including clothing and feeding the convicts and paying the guards. It was during this period that the outside camp system was firmly established as part of the prison system. In addition to the use of convicts in and around the prison, the convicts were hired out to large labor employers, mainly plantation owners and railroad companies. A second prison facility, Rusk Penitentiary, was built between 1877 and 1882. It began receiving convicts in January of 1883.
In 1881, the Legislature reorganized the prison system, abolishing the Board of Directors, and creating in its place a Penitentiary Board, consisting of the governor, the state treasurer, and the prison superintendent (Chapter 49, 17th Legislature, Regular Session). In April 1883, the administrative system was again reorganized, with the board comprised of the governor and two commissioners appointed by the governor (Chapter 114, 18th Legislature, Regular Session). In 1885, the board composition changed once more, now consisting of three commissioners appointed by the governor (House Bill 562, 19th Legislature, Regular Session). This board was succeeded by the Board of Prison Commissioners in 1910, which was composed of three commissioners appointed by the governor (Senate Bill 10, 31st Legislature, 4th Called Session). The legislation that created the new board also directed the prison system to begin operating again on state account, i.e., lessees no longer managed the prison system, effective in January 1911. Convicts, or inmates, were housed and worked in one of the two prisons or on one of several state prison farms. The shop industries slowed down while the prison farms expanded. This arrangement made it more difficult to provide education and other reform measures. Such measures were generally practiced at Huntsville, with some teaching extended to a couple of prison farms by the early 1900s.
The Texas Prison Board replaced the Board of Prison Commissioners as the governing body for the Texas Prison System in 1927, increasing in size to nine members (House Bill 59, 40th Legislature, Regular Session). The members of the board were appointed by the governor, with senate approval, to six year overlapping terms. The Board formulated the policies and the manager carried them out. During the Board's tenure, 1927-1957, the Board made changes in the system including more emphasis on prison reform, teaching, recreation--including the establishment of the Texas Prison Rodeo--and a new method of classifying inmates. The Texas Prison System became the Department of Corrections in 1957 (Senate Bill 42, 55th Legislature, Regular Session). This Department was governed by the Board of Corrections, composed of nine members appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate to six year overlapping terms.
In 1989, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and the Board of Criminal Justice were created (House Bill 2335, 71st Legislature, Regular Session). The Board is composed of nine members appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate to six year overlapping terms. The governor may not appoint more than two members who reside in an area encompassed by the same administrative judicial region. This new agency absorbed the functions of three agencies: the Department of Corrections, the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and the Texas Adult Probation Commission. The Department of Corrections, which was responsible for the operation of the prison system, is now the Institutional Division of the Department of Criminal Justice. This Division still manages the housing of inmates within the prison system. Offenders are currently housed in 73 facilities--59 prison units and 14 transfer facilities, that include five women's units, four medical units, three psychiatric units, a diagnostic unit for initial processing, two boot camps, and two work camps. TDCJ also contracts with seven privately operated facilities to house inmates. As of June 2007, approximately 151,960 offenders were housed in TDCJ units or state jails and 13,195 in private facilities.
The other divisions of the Department of Criminal Justice are the Parole Division (including the Board of Pardons and Paroles), the Community Justice Assistance Division (former Adult Probation Commission), the State Jail Division (created in 1993), the Executive Division, Internal Affairs, Programs and Services, Victims Services, Office of the General Counsel, Financial Services, Health Services, Internal Audit, and State Counsel for Offenders. Direct management of the prison system is through an executive director, with each division headed by a director and each individual prison unit managed by a warden.
The prison system has changed since the 1900s. A major penal reform program was initiated in 1947, modernizing agricultural production, initiating industrial production by inmates, and providing improvements in physical facilities for inmates and employees. A Construction Division was created in 1948 to make use of inmate labor, prison-made brick, and concrete for new building projects. In 1963, the Prison-Made Goods Act authorized an Industries Program to produce materials for internal use and for sale to qualified agencies in the state while providing occupational skills training to inmates. Other services available to inmates include education, recreation, religion, and physiological and psychological health care. The Windham School District was created in 1969 to offer GED certificates or high school diplomas to inmates. Junior college and senior college classes are available. Rehabilitation programs offer vocational training, work furlough programs, and community services to aid inmates in securing work upon release and making the adjustment and transition into society. Legal services are also available to inmates through the Office of the General Counsel.
In 1978, a class action suit was filed by inmate David Ruiz and others on behalf of the inmates confined in the various institutions operated by the Texas Department of Corrections against the director W.J. Estelle, Jr. and the Texas Department of Corrections. The courts found the conditions of confinement violated the United States Constitution and appointed a special master and monitors to supervise implementation of the court-ordered changes. These changes have included reduction of crowding in the prisons and the development of better living, health, and working conditions for inmates. Federal oversight of the Texas prison system ended in 2002.
(Sources include: Guide to Texas State Agencies, various editions, the website of the agency ( http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/index.htm), viewed May 11, 2009, and the agency's records.)
The Texas Department of Corrections (now the Texas Department of Criminal Justice) manages offenders in state prisons, state jails and contracted private correctional facilities. The agency also provides funding and certain oversight of community supervision and is responsible for the supervision of offenders released from prison on parole or mandatory supervision. These records are internal administrative reports prepared by the Research and Development Division of the Department of Corrections, dating from 1972 to 1976, 1978. Research and development services were designed to help both staff and inmates in solving problems associated with incarceration. Through these services new programs were proposed to help staff adapt to a changing inmate population as the division evaluated existing programs and recommended changes. Most of the reports are collected under two titles with multiple volumes; each volume within the titles contains a number of individual reports. The title with the most volumes is Research and Development Publications, dating 1972-1976. Topics covered in these reports include prison reform, parole considerations, good time laws, work furlough programs, costs of corrections programs, escape prediction, inmate education levels, a synopsis of death row inmates, behavioral and medical analysis of inmates, inmate identification systems, evaluations of weapons detection systems, community-based corrections services, pre-release community services programs, subsequent violations by inmates, extra departmental research, and an overview of the Department of Corrections.
The other title, Research, Planning, and Development Technical Assistance Reports, consists of individual reports published in six volumes, dating 1972, 1974-1976, 1978. These reports are analyses or evaluations of city or county jails, prepared at the request of city/county officials who sought confirmation of compliance with jail standards or advice on what was required for compliance with the standards. The requests were often made by local officials to the Criminal Justice Division of the Governor's Office, who in turn forwarded the requests to the Department of Corrections. City jails analyzed include Flatonia, Gilmer, and Caldwell; county jails analyzed include Orange County, McLennan County, Hardin County, and Grayson County.
Some of the more widely distributed reports from the Research and Development Division and its successors can be found in the Texas Documents Collection of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Many of the reports in this series were received from the Department of Criminal Justice with extensive mold and mildew damage. The damaged reports were replaced with photocopies and discarded.
The number of volumes in each set often differs from the number of volumes listed on the title page of the sets. For example, the Research and Development Publications for the year 1972 lists reports in volumes 1 and 2 on the title page. In reality, these reports listed are bound in four volumes, not two. The folder inventory lists the reports according to the physical volumes where the reports are housed.
This series was removed from the overall TDJC finding aid due to the electronic file size limitations imposed by the online finding aid web site (TARO). If you are reading this electronically, click on the following link to access the overall finding aid, Texas Department of Criminal Justice records. If you are reading this in paper in the Archives search room, this finding aid is found in a separate divider within the same binder.
Restrictions on Access
Materials do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.
Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted and may be freely used in any way. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
(Identify the item), Texas Department of Corrections Research and Development Division administrative reports. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: 1998/038
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice on November 17, 1997.
Processed by Laura K. Saegert, October 1999
DACS compliance and series formatted into a separate finding by Laura K. Saegert, May 2009
These records were appraised as archival by staff of the Texas State Archives in August 1998. The appraisal report can be found in the search room of the State Archives. The online version of the report for this series is available at http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/arc/appraisal/tdcj.html.
Detailed Description of the Records