Rep. Ernest Bailes has filed legislation hoping to reopen the Texas Prison Rodeo, a tradition that has deep roots in Huntsville and Texas history.
The Texas Prison Rodeo was launched in 1931 during the depression years, being first held at the baseball park outside the “Walls” Unit. The baseball park, located on the east side of the prison, was normally home to the Walls Tigers baseball team. The rodeo was the brainchild of Lee Simmons, General Manager of the Texas Prison System.
If bill H.B. 3472 is passed, the Texas Prison Rodeo will be at the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville.
Originally, the rodeo ended because the state began getting money from the federal government for educational and recreational programs for the inmates. Texas no longer needed to raise money to buy educational and recreational materials. The state had been suffering from an economic recession, and the Texas Legislature was not willing to spend $500,000 to repair the prison rodeo stadium.