Convict Cowboys

The Untold History of the Texas Prison Rodeo

978-1-57441-848-4 Paperback
6 x 9 x 0 in
448 pp. 50 b&w illus. Notes.
Pub Date: 08/31/2021


  • Paperback $19.95

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

North Texas Crime and Criminal Justice Series

Published by University of North Texas Press