The University of Texas at Austin
  • Everything's tougher in Texas

    Published: Nov. 22, 2010

    As Michele Deitch, an expert on criminal justice issues, points out in her post for this Know series on the modern American prison system, the state of Texas tripled the size of its prison population in one decade and is home to the second largest prison system in the nation.

    Texas Tough book cover design

    “Texas Tough” was written by Robert Perkinson.

    The William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law and the Institute for Historical Studies presented a book talk with Robert Perkinson, author of “Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire” (2008), at the university’s School of Law.

    “Texas Tough” is a history of imprisonment, race and politics from slavery to the present. Perkinson is a professor at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and was awarded the Soros Justice Fellowship in 2006.

    The following posts represent different perspectives on the modern prison system and how it ties into history, race and contemporary policy in Texas.

    Michele Deitch

    Michele Deitch is a senior lecturer at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, where she teaches courses on criminal justice policy. She has previously been a court-appointed monitor of conditions in the Texas prison system, as well as an adviser to the Texas Legislature on criminal justice issues.

    In Deitch’s post, she describes the massive Texas prison population and the significance race plays in America’s criminal justice system as well as the significance and timeliness of Perkinson’s book. Read Deitch’s post.

    Photo of Jorge Renaud

    Jorge Antonio Renaud, a graduate student in the School of Social Work, spent 27 years in Texas prisons for burglary and aggravated robbery. He wrote the book, “Behind the Walls: A Guide for the Families and Friends of Texas Inmates.”

    Renaud offers a very different perspective of the Texas prison system: what it’s like on the inside. His writing is awash with dark details and delves into significant changes in the prison system in recent decades. Read Renaud’s post.

    Photo of Mary Crouter

    Mary Crouter, assistant director of the Justice Center, also directs the law school’s Judicial Internship Program and teaches judicial internship courses. Crouter is an organizer of the “Texas Tough” book talk.

    Crouter writes about Judge William Wayne Justice’s 1980 class action lawsuit Ruiz v. Estelle in which trial evidence revealed brutally harsh prison conditions. The legendary lawsuit is a topic in “Texas Tough.” Read Crouter’s post.

    • Quote 2
      Andrew said on Sept. 1, 2011 at 5:53 p.m.
      The rise of this prison empire was under the reign of George Bush, who took his stormtrooper show on the road to guantanamo bay. He left the reins in the hands of Rick Perry who now wants to be your president. These fascists won't stop till they have the whole country in concentration camps. Things are in place already. Be warned America.
    • Quote 2
      Mark said on Feb. 15, 2011 at 6:51 p.m.
      It is unbelievable, that they can triple the amount of prisoners in ten years. Surely costing the taxpayers a bit.
    • Quote 2
      Tweets that mention Everything's tougher in Texas « Know -- said on Nov. 22, 2010 at 1:40 p.m.
      [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CPI Austin, The LBJ School. The LBJ School said: 3 essays on the modern prison system and how it ties into history, race and contemporary policy in Texas." [...]
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