Texas has one of the world’s largest prison systems, in operation for more than 170 years and currently employing more than 28,000 people. Hundreds of thousands of people have been involved in the prison business in Texas: inmates, correctional officers, public officials, private industry representatives, and volunteers have all entered the secure facilities and experienced a different world. Previous books on Texas prisons have focused either on records and data of the prisons, personal memoirs by both inmates and correctional officers, or accounts of prison breaks. Tall Walls and High Fences is the first comprehensive history of Texas prisons, written by a former law enforcement officer and an officer of the Texas prisons. Bob Alexander and Richard K. Alford chronicle the significant events and transformation of the Texas prison system from its earliest times to the present day, paying special attention to the human side of the story. Incarceration policy evolved from isolation to hard labor to rodeo and educational opportunities, with reform measures becoming an ever-evolving quest. The complex job of the correctional officer has evolved as well—they must ensure custody and control over the inmate population at all times, in order to provide a proper environment conducive to safety and positive change. Alexander and Alford focus especially on the men and women who work with diligence and dedication at their jobs “inside the walls,” risking their lives and—in too many instances—giving their lives in a peculiar line of duty most would find unpalatable. Within these pages are stories of prison breaks, bloodhounds chasing escapees, and gunfights. Inside the walls are deadly confrontations, human trafficking, rape, clandestine consensual trysts, and tricks turned against correctional officers. Famous people and episodes in Texas prison history receive their due, from Texas Rangers apprehending and placing outlaws in prison to the famed gunfighter John Wesley Hardin’s time in and out of prison. Tall Walls and High Fences covers numerous convict escape attempts and successes, including the 1974 prison siege at Huntsville and the 2007 prisoner gunfight and escape at the Wynne Unit. Throughout this long history Alexander and Alford pay special tribute to the more than 75 correctional officers, lawmen, and civilians who lost their lives in the line of duty.