There are so many things that , you can do when your traveling to Texas there are plenty of things to do. In Huntsville alone, there are some amazing things.
Texas Prison Museum, Huntsville
The Texas Prison Museum offers an intriguing glimpse into the lives of the state's imprisoned citizens. The museum features numerous exhibits detailing the history of the Texas prison system, featuring a look inside the operations behind the fences and walls.
Huntsville's prison museum is frequented by a cross-section of the public, ranging from grade-school students on field trips to tourists from around the world. Since moving to the permanent museum building in 2002, the number of visitors has risen to about 32,000 per year.
The Texas Prison Museum, in existence since 1989, is a non-profit business, overseen by a board of trustees. Staffing consists of one full-time employee, several part-time personnel, and some dedicated volunteers. The museum depends on your support.
Some of the most popular exhibits are:
Unique Audio Exhibit
An interesting look back at the Texas Death Row at the Ellis Unit in 1979 as told by Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian. They were allowed daily access to the death row inmates and recorded, both in picture and audio, this piece of history. The exhibit offers an excerpt from an NPR interview with Bruce and Diane about their experience and recent book, In This Timeless Time.
Capital Punishment Exhibit
From the time of Independence from Mexico until 1924, hanging was the lawful method of execution in Texas. Hangings took place in the county where the condemned person was convicted.
In 1924 the State of Texas took control of all executions and prescribed electrocution as the method. One of the most chilling exhibits at the Texas Prison Museum is “Old Sparky,” the decommissioned electric chair in which 361 prisoners were executed between 1924 and 1964. This legendary device, made by prison workers, was in storage at the Walls Unit Death House before being donated to the museum and is our most controversial exhibit.
In 1964 executions were stopped while the U.S. Supreme Court decided the fate of execution practices. Executions resumed in 1982 with lethal injection replacing electrocutions as the means of carrying out the death penalty.
Prison Contraband Exhibit
“Contraband” is any item that represents a grave threat to the security and safety of the institution. This exhibit shows the craftiness and creativeness of inmates who manufacture weapons from materials found within the prison units. The two examples below are from the display.
For recreation, many inmates utilize their artistic capabilities. Some inmates turn out beautiful drawings, paintings, models, and sculptures. This exhibit highlights various types of art projects created by Texas inmates.
Various types of hardware have been used to contain inmates. This exhibit shows the different types of equipment used over the years, including the old ball and chain, pad locks, and modern handcuffs.
The work by premier photographer Barbara Sloan. Last Statement is a compassionate look at the victim’s of both sides left behind following an execution. Last Statement is now also a book available exclusively in our gift shop.
One Day ln The Life Of A Texas Convict
t was the summer of 1970. I was operating the pocket press in the Garment Factory on the Eastham Unit of the Texas Dept. of Corrections.
It was hot as the hinges of hell as I worked that press–one pocket at a time. There were beads of sweat on my forehead, and my shirt was drenched. The sounds of a hundred machines being operated by a like number of convicts busy at work permeated the atmosphere, which was filled with fear and dysfunctional, criminally minded people.
The reason I had the job was that I had written Warden Harrelson several letters pleading for a job where I could learn a vocation. He had finally given in, accepting my rationale that I was not going to chop cotton when I got out. I had told him I wanted to turn my life around and improve myself. He finally bought it, being convinced I was “shooting straight” with him. It's hard being a convict–everyone thinks you are a con!
Time moved at a snail's pace, and the sweat continued to drip. The hands on the clock finally reached 3:30 and the buzzer went off. A hundred convicts began lining up for the strip search, which was an inevitable routine. (Regardless of the strip searches. Scissors and other objects considered contraband in general population were frequently stolen. If a convict wants something, he will figure a way to get it past the “screws,” usually right under their noses.) We went through the mass shower. donned clean prison whites and went to the Chow Hall.
When I arrived back at Dorm #4, the Building Tenders, inmate policemen–sorely hated by the general population because of their sadistic, egotistical and abusive behavior, called me to their bed area. The one lying down looked up at me and told me in a scornful, belittling manner that if I ever spilled any more coffee, he would mop the floor with me. I had not spilled any coffee and recognized they were setting me up. Instead of protesting, which would have provoked trouble (Proverbs l5:l), I swallowed my pride, and with a prayer forming in my mind, I turned to walk away. But that was not to be.
As I turned to leave, I turned my back on two of them. As I walked past the third one, a guy who out weighted me by a good hundred pounds, and a weight lifter to boot, sucker punched me and knocked me on the bed.
The blow “stung like a bee”, as Mohammed Ali would say. It had a shocking pain associated with it and that's what produces those stars one sees when the recipient of such a blow. It took me a minute to get orientated, and while I was he was continually hitting me.
I knew I had to get on my feet or he would put the “Brogans” to me and I would really be hurt. I rolled off the bed and jumped over another one into the center isle. He came between the bunks and at me in a quick kaleidoscope of motion.
That was the first fight I had had since I fought those six wetbacks in the Dallas County Jail–see “Dysfunctional Behavior l.” I was a Christian man and everyone in the joint knew it. They also knew that “meek” does not “weak,” and that I was not weak and had self-respect. And they were right. (If he had been doing that because Christianity, I might have let him do it. I think I proved that in my letter titled “Bowing Your Head.”) This guy, however, was a bully and trying to solidify his reputation as a Building Tender. He was trying to impress his friends at my expense. There were over two hundred convicts watching in my dorm and the dorm across the hall. They were chanting and shouting encouragement to me. They hated those Building Tenders with a capital H.
He came at me in full force, but by that time I had regained my equilibrium somewhat and was on my feet good. I blocked his rush as best I could, while backing up because of his weight. When he backed up I did not give him a chance to get set, not wanting to give him any more advantage. I rushed him and with a “roundhouse” from the right, planted one on his jaw that produced some stars of his own.
You could hear the lick all over the building, in spite of the shouting and jocularity going on, and 200 convicts cheered and chanted: “Ellsworth, Ellsworth, Ellsworth.” …
So if your ever in Texas this would be a great place to check out and see.