For fifty years prison inmates in Texas were leased out to railroads, coal mines, farm plantations, and sawmill crews with terrible incidences of brutality, cruelty, injury, and death to the prisoners. It was a period in which the state prison system was shrouded in secrecy. Former prisoners had only one option available to try to inform the public about the brutality and corruption. They could write their personal memoirs. And an amazing number of them did-dating back to the 1870s. Herein are some of their stories.