"Gulag” was the name for the penal labor camps that existed in the Soviet Union; the term was popularized by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1973 book, The Gulag Archipelago.
Some political commentators have compared the Texas prison system (and the facilities of the Texas Youth Commission) to the Soviet gulag system, calling it a “Texas Gulag” and calling Texas a “Gulag State.” The term “Texas Gulag” became popular about 2000, when Texas Governor George W. Bush was running for president of the United States. A February 2008 report by the Pew Center on the large number of prison inmates in the United States caused some political commentators to again use the “Texas Gulag” nickname (or epithet).
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the penal labor camps of the Soviet Union. It is the acronym for Glavnoye Upravleniye Ispravitel’no-Trudovykh Lagerey i koloniy, in English: “The Chief Administration of Corrective Labour Camps and Colonies” of the NKVD. Over time the term acquired a more general meaning of the whole system of penal labor in the Soviet Union and in some other places (by metonymy).
Gulag: A History, by Anne Applebaum, explains:
“It was the branch of the State Security that operated the penal system of forced labour camps and associated detention and transit camps and prisons. While these camps housed criminals of all types, the Gulag system has become primarily known as a place for political prisoners and as a mechanism for repressing political opposition to the Soviet state. Though it imprisoned millions, the name became familiar in the West only with the publication of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1973 The Gulag Archipelago, which likened the scattered camps to a chain of islands.”
There were at least 476 separate camp complexes, each one comprising hundreds, even thousands of individual camps. It is estimated that there may have been up to 5-7 million prisoners in these camps at any one time. It is possible that approximately 10% of prisoners died each year. Probably the worst of the camp complexes were the three built north of the Arctic circle at Kolyma, Norilsk and Vorkuta.
In all, perhaps more than 18 million people passed through the Gulag in 1929-1953, with further millions being deported and exiled to remote areas of the Soviet Union.
The majority of Gulag inmates usually were non-political prisoners, however, the share of political prisoners was always significant. People could be placed in a Gulag camp for such crimes as unexcused absences from work, petty theft or conveying an anti-government joke. About half of the political prisoners were sent to Gulag prison camps without trial.
Texas Gulag: The Chain Gang Years 1875-1925 (Paperback)
by Gary Brown (Author)
Paperback: 284 pages
Publisher: Republic of Texas (February 25, 2002)
This book describes in the inmate’s own words how they worked and died in incredibly inhumane conditions.
About the Author
Author Gary Brown spent twenty-three years in Texas prisons as a teacher and counselor. His book Singin’ a Lonesome Song: Texas Prison Tales is a collection of stories about colorful characters who have served time in Texas prisons over the past 150 years. His other books include Volunteers in the Texas Revolution: The New Orleans Greys and Hesitant Martyr in the Texas Revolution: James Walker Fannin. He resides in Friendswood, Texas.
Google Groups: houston.singles
Subject: Female wanted
Hi, my name is Paul and I am currently locked up in a Texas gulag. I am looking for a lady to correspond with and possible relationship after I am released soon. I am 6’ 185 lbs. blond hair, blue eyes. 30 years old. I am not a freak or child molestor but in actuality a Political prisoner.
“Texas Gulag” debuts; “Chitlin debate” is back (March 14, 1997)
Kristina Paledes Express-News Staff Writer San Antonio Express-News
Weekender Page 7H (682 Words)
In a brief conversation this week, playwright, director and producer A. Simon described his venture as ``the blind leading the blind.’’ But that hasn’t stopped him from writing, directing and producing his first theatrical venture at the Carver Community Cultural Center this weekend.
“Tales From the Texas Gulag’’ comprises three original one-acts: “Letters,’’ “Dilemma’’ and “Many…
26 March 1998, Dallas (TX) Morning News, letters:
Wake up, Texas. There is no pride in being a prison gulag state.
WILLIAM E. HALL, Seagoville
Maoist Internationalist Movement
MIM Notes No. 202 January 15, 2000
Dear MIM Notes: Wanted to let you know the new treatment these pigs are doing to me and my fellow death row prisoners in Texas, the Gulag state.
Price of Liberty (2000)
I live in Texas (the gulag state) but I’m going to decide which way to vote on election day depending on what position of Gore in the polls.
Google Groups: alt.politics.liberalism
Subject: LAST DEBATE MADNESS Political subscription newsletter- http://msnoh.
BUSH’S TEXAS GULAG: Bush’s incredible prison policies (his real affirmative action) were elucidated by a Boston Globe writer. If a separate country, Texas would have the highest incarceration rate in the world, 55% of which are non-violent- a population that’s more than the entire jail population of Great Britain (with 1/3 the pop). Blacks are imprisoned in Texas 63% more than the nat. average, though 44% of Tx prison pop, they get probation and drug treatment at 1/3 the rate of whites.
12-07-2005, 01:49 AM
Welcome to PTO! Texas is a backward state and their prison system is no exception. I was in nine different TDCJ prisons between 1992-2002. I would say that out of those, six had regular major disturbances (i.e., riots) and lockdowns. I never considered any TDCJ prison to be “good”. Some are less bad than others but you must remember what state this is. During my time, I referred to it as the gulag state--still do. TEXAS! IT’S LIKE A THIRD-WORLD COUNTRY!
Austin (TX) Chronicle (May 11, 2007)
TYC: Will the Lege Drain the Gulag? (TYC = Texas Youth Commission—ed.)
By Richard Whittaker
Yet there remains the bigger question, what Shapleigh has called the West Texas gulag. As he explained, “TYC camps were developed as economic development projects rather than best-practice TYC facilities.”
The Rag Blog
08 January 2007
The Texas Gulag
Texas Prison Camp Future American Gulag?
Detention facility currently holds as many as 200 children incarcerated after midnight arrests
Paul Joseph Watson & Alex Jones
Monday, January 8, 2007
Friends of Justice
The Bloated Underbelly of Mass Incarceration
October 19, 2007 at 4:39 pm
The infamous Graham brothers from Houston were involved in the machinations surrounding the construction of both facilities. One of the Grahams exposed Edwin Edwards to an investigation that eventually placed the former Louisiana governor in federal prison for ten years. In an attempt to limit his own criminal liability for prison-related misdeeds in Texas, Patrick Graham told the feds that Edwards had received generous kick-backs in exchange for greenlighting the prison project in Jena.
After going down the river, Graham implored authorities to let him out of the Texas Gulag because prison was “a cramped, lonesome place.” That’s called irony.
The Existentialist Corral
Monday, January 7, 2008
Texas: The Gulag Wasteland Bush Left Behind
The Texas Bush left behind leads the nation in crime, pollution and poverty.
Texas is called the gulag state for good reasons. Certainly, justice in Texas is applied inequitably. Minorities --primarily black and hispanic --are disproportionately represented in the Texas gulag system but under represented in the State legislature, the various city councils, and the state judicial system.
Tue 15 Jan 08 (01:50am)
The US has the highest incarceration rates in the world and the longest sentences. Texas is called the Gulag State. One out of every 20 Texas adults is under some form of criminal justice control, one out of every 3 young black men there are in prison or on probation. It has more people in jail or under corrective orders than the entire populations of Wyoming, Nevada and Alaska. California spends more on prisons than universities.
Friday, February 29, 2008
United States & Texas #1
A report from the Pew Center on the States released yesterday documents that the United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other nation in the world. Including China with its 1.3 billion people. For the first time in its history the United States has more than one in every 100 adults in jail or prison. At the start of the new year, 2,319,258 adults were behind bars. That’s one in every 99.1 adults in the United States. In stir. The United States leads the world in both the number of citizens jailed and the percentage of its citizens jailed.
For instance, a couple weeks ago I blogged about The Soviet State of Texas. I wrote about what happened to a friend of mine down in Corpus Christi over a bounced $20 check from years prior. For a few days she was one of the 1 in 99.1 adults in jail. Read what she had to say about her experience in what I call the Texas Gulag, but which she refers to as a Concentration Camp.
The Existentialist Cowboy
Friday, February 29, 2008
Prison Nation: Over One in One Hundred Americans Are in Prison
It was Texas under the incompetent rule of then Governor George W. Bush that became known as the gulag state of Texas for having turned a social problem into just another GOP scam, a get rich quick scheme, another way in which GOP blood-suckers feed at the public trough.
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Saturday, March 01, 2008 • Permalink