Power, Punishment, and the Penitentiary
After statehood, Montana leased its penitentiary to contractors, who utilized cheap inmate labor to turn a profit for themselves and for the state. Warden Frank Conley became a regional political boss and amassed a personal fortune, using inmates for road construction and a variety of public and private projects. Eventually, charges of corruption led to his ouster by Governor Joseph M. Dixon and sparked a trial and heated controversy that resulted in Dixon’s political downfall.
After 1921 the prison system came under full control of the state government. Although there were changes at the penitentiary during the rest of the twentieth century--and two full-scale riots in the 1950s--there was also a depressing repetition of corruption, neglect, and underfunding.
About the Author
"An outstanding work that uses myriad primary sources and delves into new realms."—Journal of the West
"Keith Edgerton has produced not only an interesting history of the Montana penitentiary at Deer Lodge, but also an evaluation of the attitudes that state legislators, governors, and residents of Montana have developed in regard to crime and the prison. . . .A well-researched, well-written, and interesting book."—Pacific Northwest Quarterly
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