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Featured Article

A Tale of a Frozen Dog
by Keith Price (1)

Featured Article

    High security prisons are filled with hundreds of dangerous men. It seemed logical that with only a handful of officers, Wardens would select some dangerous men to serve as convict guards to maintain control in the cellblocks. This was the case at the Eastham State Prison Farm that was home to many such men. The convict guards were known in the Texas prison system as Building Tenders. (2)

    One Building Tender of note at Eastham was Leroy. He was a tall, lanky individual with a quiet demeanor. Despite this characteristic, no one challenged Leroy's authority or his control of the cellblock. 

    Leroy's free-world vocation was working as an enforcer for a gang known as the Dixie Mafia. On one occasion Leroy was sent to discipline two prostitutes who had held back money from the gang. The two prostitutes did not take well to the physical discipline administered by Leroy. Rather than heeding the lesson of the discipline, they chose a scheme of revenge.

    Leroy's close companion was a small dog that accompanied him on his work activities. The prostitutes were wise enough to not engage such a dangerous man in a face-to-face confrontation. They did, however, concoct a scheme to revenge themselves on Leroy. During a time when the small dog was home alone, the prostitutes enacted their plan and left the dog dead in Leroy's home. Their grave mistake was their failure to understand Leroy's attachment to his dog.


    When Leroy discovered his dead companion, he carefully wrapped his corpse and placed it in the freezer. When it was time for a second meeting with the prostitutes, Leory took his dog with him as always. In this instance, he used the frozen carcass of his friend to beat the prostitutes to death.


    Leory's crime became known to the police and the case of the murder was sent to a Texas criminal court. Unfortunately for Leroy, even in Texas, murder to avenge the death of one's dog is still not justified. Leroy's crime and conviction made him well suited for the Eastham State Prison Farm. The Warden of Eastham quickly saw the utility of a man with Leroy's abilities. He thus became a Building Tender. As one might surmise from this tale, Leory's cellblock was one of the most peaceful on the Farm. (3)


     (1) Keith Price is a retired Texas Prison Warden. he is also a Professor Emeritus at West Texas A&M University.

     (2) Building Tenders were picked by the unit Warden and submitted for review to prison headquarters. The Bureau of Classification and            the prison director served as approving authorities in these selections.

     (3)  The building tender system was eventually declared unconstitutional by a federal court. The system was then disbanded. 

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