The Gatesville State School for Boys

The Gatesville State School for Boys or simply gatesville was a word that conjured up bad thoughts in the hearts and minds of boys all over Texas. A facility in an area of Texas with a 120 year history of perpetrating crimes of physical, sexual, mental and verbal abuse on the throw away kids of Texas. This blog is here to share the state boys story. c/s

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gatesville Cemetery Cleanup


I was sent this email by a Mom whose daughter is locked up at our old alma-mater and because of the nature of the email I thought I would share on the blog.  I only knew of the one cemetery Boot Hill and only suspect there are several unmarked graves around the place, like around the horse barn and Riverside.

 

My daughter is currently incarcerated in Gatesville she was told today that next week she has to go clean up three boys cemetery’s she said a lot of bad things happened there and ask me to research this.  After going on the internet i found all these horror stories.  M y heart goes out to you and all the other boys who had to go there. Thank God you made it out of that place. My question is did some of these boys die from the torture that they put you through. How come there are so many cemeteries, what did they do to these poor boys. I only hope that these men were punished for what they did.  My heart goes out to all the boys that had to go to this place. All that I have read so far no one mentions any boy dying but with so many graves something had to happen.  Any information you could send me would be greatly appreciated.  I hope and pray I have not opened up old wounds. God Bless You.  Ms. Robbins

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lock Up


Texas Youth Commission Gatesville State School for Boys circa 1974-1977

Crises Intervention Center (CIC) aka Lock Up

During a time when TYC was spending everything it could to protect itself from Federal intervention in the form of the Morales vs. Turman law suit, the Gatesville facility was on life support. The Gatesville reception center where all new male inmates arriving to TYC had been moved to a newer facility in Brownwood and 2 wings at the old reception center in Gatesville were striped to nothing and used for CIC. According to historical witnesses this was an upgrade from the facility used at Hilltop.

Many of the boys who would have otherwise wound up in the Gatesville facility were rerouted to the recently made co-ed state school girls in Gainesville, the boy’s home in Giddings or remained in Brownwood and sent up the hill to the main school. At the time the old colored school for girls in Crocket was being used as a co-ed wilderness program.

A court order from the MvT case forced staff to stop the random beatings of juvenile inmates and many Gatesville dorm staff quit their state jobs because of a fear they would be unable to control the population.Those that stayed either evolved or were let go with cause, while those who struggled and having seniority were transferred to work CIC.

Maximum length of stay was 3 days; any stay longer up to 10 days required a phone call to Austin. Any stay longer than 10 days up to 30 days required a letter stating reason and every 30 days thereafter. There was only one rule in CIC, absolute quietness. Violation of this rule, depending on the mood of the staff, the penalty was deeper isolation in another wing and generally came with a beating. If you became loud enough to be heard in the other wing the penalty was being hung on the wall, also accompanied with a beating. The beating was always 2 or more grown men to one boy.

To accommodate the hanging of a boy on the wall the cell had tall windows with thick bars. The widows at one time could be opened but were sealed. However there was enough room to place a handcuff between the bar and outer thick glass on each side of the window and hang a boy by his wrist where he stood on tiptoe. Minimum length for hanging on the wall was 2 hours. Further noise rule violation would increase the time and in many cases was accompany with a beating.

For TYC at this time this methodology was considered humane in comparison to the decades earlier.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


The following article by William T. Field is from The Handbook of Texas, Volume 3, Eldon Stephen Branda, editor, The Texas Historical Association, Austin, 1976, pages 330-331.







Gatesville State School for Boys.
The Gatesville State School for Boys was placed under the administration of the Texas Youth Council by the Fifty-fifth Legislature. An extensive program was initiated by the council to transform the old school into six separate training units or schools, including a security-treatment institution and five open-type schools. The proposed program became a reality in April, 1963, with the completion of the Hackberry School.
The general superintendent directed the five open type schools, which provided benefits from specialized programs of classification, care, treatment, and discipline. Each school was in turn directed by an assistant superintendent, aided by a principal and teachers of the academic and vocational school and by a professional counseling staff.
The Valley School was a training unit for 160 young males. It was situated three-quarters of a mile south of the old Main Campus. The school had its own dormitories, recreational facilities, kitchen and dining facilities, academic school, vocational workshops, and playgrounds. It enabled younger, lesser offenders to be separated completely from older offenders.
The Hackberry School, a training unit for 240 younger males, was situated three-quarters of a mile southeast of the old Main Campus. The school possessed all necessary facilities, including living, academic, recreational, and vocational accommodations. Its emphasis centered on the classification and treatment of younger males.
The Terrace School, one-half mile east of the old Main Campus, provided for the separation and classification of 240 youngsters of intermediate age and background.
The Riverside School was composed of two training units. One had complete facilities for living and recreation and for the academic and vocational training of 160 younger Negro offenders. The other was created by renovating and remodeling existing housing and training facilities. The latter unit accommodated 160 older Negro males.
The Hilltop School, formerly the Main Campus, provided facilities for classification and treatment of 250 young male offenders less sophisticated in delinquent activities than those housed in Mountain View School. The overall daily population averaged for all five units of the Gatesville School in 1969 was about 1,830.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Some things never change at TYC/TJJD except the name

A survey of kids posted at the Grits for Breakfast blog said85% of youth housed at the Giddings State School have been in a fight since they arrived. Giddings State School went from a boys home in the 70’s to become TYC’s secure facility when Gatesville closed. The “Mountain View” boys were moved to occupy the closed Hackberry School in the summer of 1975 and in 1979 were moved to Giddings.

The article goes on to note that the biggest concerns among the kids besides getting into a fight are negative interactions with staff.  Staff has negative attitudes towards the kids, there’s shocking news! Weren’t these the same root issues that culminated in Morales verse Turman and the reshuffling of inventory at the states Gatesville facility?

It was the inventory shuffling done by the state of Texas that has allowed the people of Gatesville to continue to profit from the misery of others.  Only now Gatesville’s shadenfreude, its business as usual inventory is women instead of boys. The TYC staff has been bitter ever since the federal government told them they couldn’t beat a state boy any longer. This bitterness is part of the TYC/TJJD ingrained culture like covering up abuses.

The article closes noting that the survey was a wake up call to leadership. You would think that if the leadership hasn’t been “woke up” to this news by now they must be in a coma.

Friday, February 10, 2012

My Personal Gatesville State School for Boys Ghost Story

In October of 1976 I found myself back at Terrace dorm 4 contemplating how I would get back to the free world faster than what my caseworker’s plans were. I decided to go out the cloths room window during shower time. That night Booboo, a floater was our dorm man and it was movie night for the level 3’s so they would be off the dorm. I can’t remember Booboo’s real name, he didn’t like being called Booboo and would put some hurt on you if he caught you. While Booboo was in the bunk room shuckin and jivin under the guise of coordinating showers, I used a pillow to muffle the sound and broke the window in the clothes room. When I had as clear a jiggers as it was going to get I was out the window and gone.


I had trash bags for my feet to throw off my scent to the dogs. I started feeling pretty good about my run that it would be a success as the sound of the dogs faded. There was a full moon that night and it was getting a little chilly as the night wore on.

I began to hear sounds that sounded like a Boy Scout camp out. I saw what appeared to be a campfire with several boys dressed in blue jeans and white T shirts shooting marbles. As I got closer I thought they were on a run from another school and felt safe enough to light a fire. When I got closer and called out, they were gone, just like that.

Needless to say the run wasn’t a success and my caseworker Jenson had his usual cunt attitude about the whole thing and left me in CIC, lockup, until January. I thought the ghost stories told by those people down there were to keep us from running. They were real, I saw them. Mayberry, who used to hold Terrace dorm 5 was now working CIC. He knew all about the ghost and other weird shit like the goat man. The jeans and t-shirt style was the state issue of an earlier time. A 60’s era Gatesville. And marbles, who would have thought.

Every October when the moon is full I think about those boys, the ones who never went home. One day, God willing, their bones will be discovered and their souls can get closure.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Protest March to Austin

I remember in 1975 some of the older boys, the II and III timers who were at Valley, Hackberry, and Riverside at the time spun stories about a group of boys who were going to march to Austin in protest of the horrible conditions. It was widely known and respected by the state boys of my time. Never referred to as a Geronimo.


According to Dr Bush’s research, he talks about a riot that took place Labor Day morning 1971, the day before the start of Morales vs. Truman court proceedings. That previous July there was a letter sent to every inmate at Gatesville, Mountain View, and Gainesville from Judge William Wayne Justice explaining that tyc was on trial and to please fill out the attached survey. The story tells of a group of about 90 boys at Sycamore School gathered on the athletic field around breakfast, then marched off campus. Guards attempted to block but the boys laughed at them and kept on going. News reporters and TV cameras showed up just as security, the local enforcers, and the High Way Patrol put down the protest. It lasted all morning and marked the beginning of the end.

State Boys who participated in that protest sent a tremendous message. Anyone out there who remembers this event be sure to leave a comment.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The State of Texas as Parent

Book Web Site
I recently attended a panel discussion at the capital in Austin during the book fair with same title as this article. I wanted to meet the historian Dr Bush who was one of the panelists. Bush has done extensive research for his book that chronicles cycles of scandal, reform, and retrenchment in the Texas Youth commission. Sherry Matthews, author of We Were Not Orphans was another panelist. Both spent time discussing the abuse issues that plagued the Waco State Home and Gatesville State School for Boys. At one point in the discussion Matthews made a statement about how the kids are looked upon in many cases by staff and politicians as having mental issues but after all her research she has come to the conclusion that it is the staff who gravitate to these jobs with the mental issues. This received applause and cheers from a relatively packed chamber room.


The moderator, Michele Deitch, pointed out the coincidence of having the panel discussion in a chamber where many discussions regarding the most recent fate of tyc had been held.

The take away I received from the discussion was the entrenched culture of what could be called state sponsored child abuse in state schools/homes can’t be fixed. There is absolutely nothing that can be done, no matter how many well intended hours are spent by qualified individuals tasked with reforming these places. The people of Gatesville were so bad, apparently our legislators  thought they weren’t good for anything else but abusive penal work. Evidence the growth of facility’s out there in the last 30 years. The old buildings and land were turned over to tdc where the indigenes could continue to profit on the miseries of others, a local custom started in 1888.Who knows what secrets lie buried out there.


I found it very informative. The best part was getting to meet Dr Bush and have him personally autograph a copy of his book. Thank you Dr Bush for being a voice.