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

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Conclusion

In conclusion, this chapter has revealed how Lone Star tourist sites associated with punishment construct the image of Texas as a place of harsh punishment. Moreover, it has been suggested that a narrative of toughness is employed within the stories Texas tells about its own relationship with both the death penalty and mass incarceration. Visitors are encouraged to celebrate the fact that Texas does not run ‘a country club prison’ and that Texas has one of the ‘biggest and best prison systems in the nation’. In addition, spaces both inside and outside of the sites offer symbolic signifiers of war through military-style displays of memorialisation; these tourist spaces set the scene by evoking the war on crime metaphor. In addition, the comic and nostalgic elements of the stories actually serve to reinforce this image of the Texan commitment to harsh punishment as an expression of toughness: Texas is not ashamed to make light of the reputation it has acquired. Rather than being embarrassed by—or shying away from—its reputation, Texas continues to embrace it.

The employment of the war on crime metaphor coupled with a narrative of Texan toughness and boldness, may also suggest that the punishment stories are drawing on scripts of hegemonic masculinity (Cheng 1996; Cockburn 1991; Connell and Messerschmidt 2005). The TDCJ and the TCID together are presented as a kind of strong and bold patriarch; tough on wrongdoers, ready to engage (and die) in combat in order to defend and protect the citizens of Texas. The TCID in particular—the department on which the responsibility of punishment ultimately rests— is portrayed as the last line of defence and the first line of attack within the punishment story. In short then, within this chapter we have been discussing a new punishment narrative, one that relates specifically to the stories Texas tells about punishment. This ‘narrative of toughness’ can be expressed in the following framework.

 
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