Sunday, January 21, 2007

Get Your TDCJ Bobble Heads Here!

I'm not sure how big a market there could possibly be for such things, but at the Texas Prison Museum giftshop you can buy for $15 a Texas prison system bobble-head doll (featured at left).

Finally, ladies, the Valentines gift for the man who you thought already had it all. Order soon, while supplies last! (One wonders: Do they come in multiracial versions?) You can also buy wallets, belt buckles or an inmate-made teargas case.

For you eggheads out there who aren't interested in purchasing a belt buckle the size of a five-year old's cranium, there's also an interesting list of books about Texas prisons from the museum bookstore. Two jumped out to me as particularly interesting: First, a book called "Penology for Profit: A History of the Texas prison system 1867-1912, described how early Texas prisons dealt with their overcrowding issues:
Before the discovery of oil and the advent of Progressivism to Texas, the state dealt with prison overcrowding by leasing convicts and their labor to private industry and funneling the profits into the state’s coffers. In this book Donald R. Walker examines economic, social, and political aspects of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Texas that resulted in the leasing system and its eventual demise.
That's a history I guess I vaguely knew about - renting out prisoners' labor to corporations, or God knows who else as a profit-making scheme for the state, but I've never seen an historial examination of the subject. That one might be worth adding to the list (if I could get through the books on it now). Another book, by Gary Brown called "Singin' a Lonesome Song," sounded particularly interesting. It was described thusly on the museum bookstore website:
Texas convicts and inmates have made the Texas prison system the most colorful in the world over the past 150 years. There was a famous gunslinger in the 1800's and a burlesque stripper in the 1950's. There were notorious gang members in the thirties, a Kiowa Indian chief, a blues musician, an escape artist, and a Mexican vaquero. -These prison tales include chain-bus drivers, wild bull riders, and a prison baseball team that took on the Texas semi-pro champions in Houston's old Buff Stadium. They include inmates and prisoners of war supplying materials to the Confederate army and convict laborers building a state railroad and quarrying granite for the beautiful state capitol in Austin. -Author Gary Brown spent twenty-three years working as counselor and teacher in the Texas prison system.
Both those sound like good reads, but I still can't get over the idea that somebody at TDCJ got the idea to have prisoners make these bobble head dolls and sell them at the Texas Prison Museum. I don't know that there's anything wrong with it, per se, really it just strikes me as odd, and kinda dopey. (OTOH, thank God somebody in the prison system still has a sense of humor.) Maybe it's because it makes me think of the Johnny Cash song, "Stripes Around My Shoulders." The last verse is the one that started rattling around my head after I saw the TDCJ bobble head - you probably remember it, so sing along:

On a Monday, my Momma come and see me.

On Tuesday, they caught me with a file.

On Wednesday, I'm in solitary.

On Thursday I start on bread and water for a while.


I've got stripes, stripes around my shoulders.

I've got chains, chains around my feet.

I've got stripes, stripes around my shoulders.

And them chains, them chains, they're about to drag me down.

9 comments:

Quismada said...

This is a novel idea. Perhaps we could purchase a set with coats and ties, named appropriately for the TDCJ official it most resembles. Ever watched a meeting in Austin? They often dress alike with their blue suits and ties while walking around looking important with a gloomy look and less than interested glaze in their eyes. Hell, I would buy a set so I could ping them in their bobbly little heads each time a stupid decision is made regarding our Texas inmates. However, please make mine out of durable plastic as the pinging could escalate to all out slugging and I want my investment to last. As a side note, we could also have some made that represent the female officials...one in particular comes to mind. Kinda of skinny with stringy blond hair. Double ping to that one! (I'm having a thought here...how about TDCJ v. Inmate Chess sets? Instead of capturing the unit tower we could have a syringe of lethal injection sitting to the side.)

800 pound gorilla said...

My spouse has assured me that I'm not getting one for my birthday. Maybe Dan Quayle or Alice Cooper - who share my birthdate - might be getting one from their spouses.

Hope said...

That thing is obscene. But I love the way you ran with the idea Quismada.

Anonymous said...

my husband is in the Texas prison system. This bobble head is obsene

Hope said...

Anonymous, I agree. I can't imagine what they were thinking when they had those made.

I did rather like Quismada's idea though of making them of the TDCJ officials. Bobble heads of them might be hot item.

sunray's wench said...

TDCJ have missed a trick though, they could have got the inmates to make the dolls.....

[/sarcasm]

Anonymous said...

The offenders (the correct word) already make TDCJ enough money. They charge for everything. Pictures, commissary,(which they have to buy everything,except the White 2-piece uniform they are issued.)What they need to
do is not add insult to injury. They need to become more about rehabilitaion instead of punishment. The offenders are already being punished. they are away from their wives, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers and the extened family. I know if my husband had gotten some sort of cousiling instead of just being locked up,he might not have been back there in the first place.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Sunray, they're way ahead of you. Inmates DID make them! No s#*t!

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