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The Texas Prison Rodeo?


Paul1956

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I remember it being promoted as a tourist attraction, right up there with tours of the Astrodome, the Ship Channel, NASA, and the San Jacinto Monument. I guess you could have chartered Gray Line Tours to take your group there as part of a trip to the Alabama Choushatta Indian Resevation, that is, when it was in season. But no, I never knew anybody that actually attended it.

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I had a boyfriend back in the early 80s who was from out of state and was obsessed with the idea of prison rodeo. He imagined it as some sort of Roman slaves-fighting-lions thing. We went once. My vague memory was that it seemed like farm league baseball to me. Fun but rough around the edges.

Louisiana still does a prison rodeo at Angola. I've not been, but I have friends into primitive/folk art who go often for the craft show. Apparently outside of the rodeo there's a giant arts n crafts show where you can buy lots of yard art on a stick, directly from inmates. You don't actually give them the money, is my understanding, but they are manning their booths.

wow, and they're pretty organized!

http://www.angolarodeo.com/

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We went several times when I was a kid. Not sure why. The prisoners that participated got extra spending money I think and the bulls had $100 bills between their horns. I was very young. I remember seeing the prisoners behind the fencing in their bleachers. My mother had been a character witness for a guy that was wrongfully convicted and put on death row and I remember she was always looking for him in the stands.

Even as a child, I found it to be very sad.

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We went several times when I was a kid. Not sure why. The prisoners that participated got extra spending money I think and the bulls had $100 bills between their horns. I was very young. I remember seeing the prisoners behind the fencing in their bleachers. My mother had been a character witness for a guy that was wrongfully convicted and put on death row and I remember she was always looking for him in the stands.

Even as a child, I found it to be very sad.

Wow, the death row guys got to be in the rodeo? That's surprising.

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We went several times when I was a kid. Not sure why. The prisoners that participated got extra spending money I think and the bulls had $100 bills between their horns. I was very young. I remember seeing the prisoners behind the fencing in their bleachers. My mother had been a character witness for a guy that was wrongfully convicted and put on death row and I remember she was always looking for him in the stands.

Even as a child, I found it to be very sad.

Why did you find it sad? Do you find the HSLR sad too? Here is a nice piece on the Prison Rodeo.

http://media.www.houstonianonline.com/media/storage/paper229/news/2005/04/26/Huntsville/Prison.Rodeo.Gone.But.Not.Forgotten-937824.shtml

Edited by redraider
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Why did you find it sad? Do you find the HSLR sad too? Here is a nice piece on the Prison Rodeo.

http://media.www.hou...en-937824.shtml

more like depressing. While the prisoners enjoyed it, it was just sad to see and imagine prison life.

And after being dragged year after year after year to the Houston Lifestock Show and Rodeo, found it sad too. Poor animals. But even worse was watching my father's home movies with no sound and in black and white of the rodeo. BORING!

Edited by EMME
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That rodeo in Huntsville was a real good time. Those guys didn't care if they got hurt. In fact some time in the hospital was a step up from the Walls Unit. I think we saw the Gatlin Brothers play at halftime.

Edited by gto250us
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That rodeo in Huntsville was a real good time. Those guys didn't care if they got hurt. In fact some time in the hospital was a step up from the Walls Unit. I think we saw the Gatlin Brothers play at halftime.

The spectacle of prison inmates deliberately getting hurt so they could spend weeks or months in the hospital was one of the factors in the demise of the prison rodeo. Over the years the crowds starting expecting to see inmates taking stupid chances and the inmates didn't disappoint them.

Critics in the legislature started comparing it to gladiators killing each other to entertain the crowds in ancient Rome. The idea of men in prison entertaining the public that way was troubling to more and more people, and it was finally cancelled in 1986. Guess who the star entertainers were that year.

Here's the complete history of the Texas Prison Rodeo. http://www.txprisonmuseum.org/articles/rodeo_history.html

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my uncle used to take my brother and I as kids....I kind of blended the memories of the prison rodeo with my earliest recollections of the fat stock show and rodeo at the brand new Astrodome. I specifically remember my uncle telling me that in the arena they were all just cowboys

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There have been discussions of resurrecting this event. However, it will most likely remain only a fond memory for those who participated in, attended, or worked at The Wildest Show Behind Bars...

We will never see it again. I'm sure the ACLU would deem it as "harsh and unusual" punishment for prisoners. 

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We will never see it again. I'm sure the ACLU would deem it as "harsh and unusual" punishment for prisoners. 

Well, we do have one still operating in Louisiana...

And I don't think the ACLU has a case if prisoners want to do it.

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I'm just glad we were able to get an ACLU reference in this thread. What good is a prisoner thread if it doesn't have an ACLU post in it? In fact, I'm going to give you a +1 just for making this thread complete!

EDIT: BTW, the legal term is "cruel and unusual". Just sayin...

Edited by RedScare
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I went to the Prison Rodeo a number of times in the 50s. The rodeo was OK, but was nothing compared to the Houston Rodeo, not so much for the action, but that there were no cowboy stars that you had the chance to shake hands with. That’s what made the Houston Rodeo so wonderful, as well as the intimacy of the Coliseum.

What was even better than the Prison Rodeo itself was the trip there and back. The Rodeo was in the fall, if I remember, and most likely in October. We usually went on a Saturday, and that meant listening to Southwest Conference Football and the unforgettable voice of the immortal Kern Tips.

This was before I-45 was built, so the way to Huntsville was on Hwy 75. On the days of the rodeo, a number of individuals, mostly Black, would set up along the way selling BBQ. Of all the times we stopped, I never remember the Q being anything but wonderful!

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more like depressing. While the prisoners enjoyed it, it was just sad to see and imagine prison life.

And after being dragged year after year after year to the Houston Lifestock Show and Rodeo, found it sad too. Poor animals. But even worse was watching my father's home movies with no sound and in black and white of the rodeo. BORING!

Your right, prison life is sad. To bad more people don't realize that until it is too late and they end-up there.

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  • The title was changed to The Texas Prison Rodeo?

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