Texas Prison Burials Surprisingly Well Done

By Prison Legal News  Photo courtesy of

If a Texas state prisoner dies or is executed, relatives or friends can pick up the body. If they don’t, he or she is buried in the largest prison graveyard in the United States – the Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery in Huntsville, Texas. Such burials occur around 100 times each year.

Named after an assistant warden at the Huntsville Unit who helped clean and restore the 22-acre graveyard in the 1960s, the cemetery is still associated with the prison unit known as “The Walls” for its 19th century brick walls. The warden or assistant warden from the facility attends each funeral.

A prisoner’s body may be unclaimed for a number of reasons. There may be no surviving friends or relatives, but a more likely explanation is that the friends or relatives are too poor to afford the burial expenses.

“I think everyone assumes if you are in a prison cemetery you’re somehow the worst of the worst,” said Indiana State University assistant professor of criminology Franklin T. Wilson, who is writing a book about the Byrd cemetery. “But it’s more of a reflection of your socioeconomic status. This is more of a case of if you’re buried there, you’re poor.”

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Prison News in Brief: Mississippi through New Hampshire

By Prison Legal News

This installment of Prison News in Brief concerns news from Mississippi through New Hampshire and is brought to us by our friends at Prison Legal News.

  • Mississippi Prison News

In three separate incidents that occurred between July 14 and 19, 2013, two guards and the 65-year-old mother of a prisoner were arrested as a result of DOC investigations.  Ciarra Harley, a 27-year-old guard at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility (CMCF), is accused of having a sexual relationship with a probationer.

Patricia Bennett-Armstrong, also employed at CMCF, was arrested for possession of prohibited items after a large amount of tobacco was found in her vehicle.

Further, Gloria Edwards, the mother of a prisoner serving time at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman was arrested for allegedly planning to deliver contraband to a prisoner.  Edwards was at the facility to see her son but was arrested before the visit; she had several pills concealed on her body and more drugs were found in her vehicle.

  • Mississippi Prison News

On June 11, 2013, Harrison County jailers Frederick Corso and Joseph Tuten were fired for their roles in the mistreatment of a prisoner and an attempted cover-up of the abuse.  A review of surveillance video confirmed the mistreatment, which was witnessed by a third guard who alerted jail administrators.  Although the prisoner did not suffer any injuries, Corso and Tuten were terminated when one participated in the abuse and the other falsified incident reports.

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