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Home arrow Law arrow Prisons and Punishment in Texas: Culture, History and Museological Representation

III The Punishment Museums of the Lone Star State

Museum Stories of a Distinctly Tough Texas

Crime and punishment stories have proliferated in recent years, and are now found in a wide variety of cultural products such as film, news reporting, documentaries and websites. By taking a more explicit narrative approach to the conclusions drawn by those who study these punishment stories, we were able to construct a framework of narratives (see Chap. 7), each of which has been found to manifest within these stories. The aim of this current chapter is to consider the extent to which the punishment narratives are expressed within the stories Texas tells in its punishment- related tourist sites. Unlike punishment stories told in many other cultural products such as film, news reports or TV series, these tourist site stories are not chronological and rarely adhere to an event-driven plot trajectory. Instead, they tell multiple stories within a single space which overlap, reinforce and at times contradict one another. However, certain themes do repeat themselves within this collection of Lone Star stories, themes which offer explanations as to how, why and who Texas punishes.

In this chapter we will focus on the stories Texas tells about the sheer size of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) in general, and the Texas Correctional Institutions Division (TCID) in particular. In its

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016 H. Thurston, Prisons and Punishment in Texas,

DOI 10.1057/978-1-137-53308-1_8

entirety, this chapter will show how narrative elements together encourage all visitors—Texan or not—to find a form of amusement in the tough Texas reality and reputation. Moreover, I will argue that the stories told in the punishment sites use a narrative of toughness to speak about Texan punishment, with the TCID continually portrayed in terms of Texan boldness in the penal sphere. So, without further ado, I return you to the Lone Star museums and their depictions of punishment.

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