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Cover for Convict Cowboys

Convict Cowboys

The Untold History of the Texas Prison Rodeo (North Texas Crime and Criminal Justice Series #10)

Mitchel P. Roth


List Price: 19.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Convict Cowboys is the first book on the nation’s first prison rodeo, which ran from 1931 to 1986. At its apogee the Texas Prison Rodeo drew 30,000 spectators on October Sundays. Mitchel P. Roth portrays the Texas Prison Rodeo against a backdrop of Texas history, covering the history of rodeo, the prison system, and convict leasing, as well as important figures in Texas penology.

“At its peak, 30,000 locals would travel to Huntsville on a Sunday afternoon to see the stars (Johnny Cash, John Wayne, Steve McQueen) and watch the death-defying acts by those who had (almost) nothing to lose.”—Houston Press

“Roth’s narrative is at its best when he is telling the true tales of prisoners who rode wild animals, jumped out of airplanes, [and] risked their lives for money tied to the horns of bulls.”—Texas Books in Review

University of North Texas Press, 9781574418484, 448pp.

Publication Date: August 31, 2021

About the Author

MITCHEL P. ROTH is co-author of Houston Blue: The Story of the Houston Police Department (UNT Press) and author of Fire in the Big House: America’s Deadliest Prison Fire. He is professor of criminal justice and criminology at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.