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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
Mr. James Hunt (H)
North Carolina State Department of Corrections, Robeson County Unit
Interviewer: Lew Barton (I)
June 14, 1973
Typed by: P. F. Williams
I: This is June 14, 1973. I am Lew Barton recording for
the American Indian Oral History Program under the
auspices of the University of Florida's History
Department and the Doris Duke Foundation. Today we
are again near Lumberton, North Carolina, at the
North Carolina State Department of Corrections, Robeson
County Unit, and this is the fifth in a series of
interviews. And with me is a very interesting
gentleman, an officer here, a pillar of our Indian
community who has great respect from many quarters,
and I'm going to ask him to give you his name and
the position he holds here at the institution.
H: I am James Hunt, security officer for the Department
of Correction, Unit 4540, stationed in Robeson.
I: Sir, how old are you now, sir?
H: Fifty-two years old.
I: How long have you been over here?
LUM 167A 2
H: I've worked with the Department for six years.
I: Six years. Are you married?
H: Married and have five children.
I: Who was your wife before you married?
_D rl s tow 3/
H: Lannie Locklear, Mr.Bristow Briston Locklear's daughter.
I: Yes, sir. Could you give us the names of your
children and their ages?
H: Not exactly their ages. I got their names, though.
James Albert Hunt, the oldest one. Margaret Ellen
Hunt, the next one, the daughter. I only had one
daughter. Then Jackie Willis Hunt, Jimmy Hunt, and
Johnny Lee Hunt. Johnny's the youngest one. He's
seventeen years old.
I: He's the youngest.
H: Yes, sir.
I: And how old are you?
H: Seventeen...er, I'm fifty-two.
I: You're fifty-two. Well, I've been thirty-nine for
a long time but I'll tell you this much. You and
I have the same age. I was born June 4, 1918. When
were you born?
LUM 167A 3
H: Well, I was born in 1921.
I: Oh, we'll have to do a little bit of figuring there
later on. Anyway, it's a pleasure to be here with
you. And there was one thing we were saying a little
bit before we started on this interview. Some of
the things you had to say about our people, the Indian
people and the way they felt about promises. That
was so...I wish you could say that just exactly the
way you said it a while ago, what you were telling
me about Indian people and the way they feel about
H: Well, as we have some of our people working with the
Department of Corrections, I tried to find out what
kind of a home they came from. And a lot of our
people, like I stated before, came from homes who
have been reared to always continue to live by their
promises. If they promise to do something they will
do it at all costs. And we find some coming into
the Department of Corrections from such families
as that, and those fellows we have very little
trouble with. And we can get them to go ahead and
follow rules and obey orders just as well as the street
LUM 167A 4
man would do. And...because we believe, and I'm
one of them who believes that if I give you my word
today, I believe in risking my life to do it tomorrow.
I: Right. You know, I've often said that, you know,
I'd mention certain Indian people and I'd say, "You
know od (i 5/ V ^ O-e^ I
oIetr;s 4-0 huAM word of mouth. I would go
to bed tonight and sleep at ease and woukh't worry
about getting it one bit.* 4 1 / 0O
;~4,, -N,,,, .cmo :'
H: M II V Yeah, I've nrer had any trouble ,J
I'm working for you might say a laborer's salary here,
but there's nothing this evening that I could want that
I couldn't buy. Not that I've got the money to buy it
with, but all I got to do is pick up the telephone and
tell the fellow that I felt like I needed it and they
would trust me with it anywhere in this state, I
I: He wouldn't ask you to come down there and sign a paper
either, would he?
H: No, sir. No, I've never been required to...I have bought
LUM 167A 5
a car brand new on credit, and all I did was pick
up the phone and call the man and tell him I saw
it on a yard and I would kind of lile that car
cleaned up and see if I could buy it. He said,
"When do you want to pick it up?" And he never
asked me how I was gonna pay for it.
I: He didn't worry about that at all, did he?
I: It certainly is wonderful to be here and to talk
with you and others like you andksee the great
progress this institution is making, and to see
the changes that have taken place. Can you think
of any changes that have taken place since you
H: Well, sir, we've had quite a few changes over the
past few years and we have always...when I came
to the Department, I'd only worked about six or
eight months and they found out that I knew the state
pretty well, even the surrounding states, and I
worked with escapees quite a bit. And so they let
me do a lot of traveling with the state, and after
LUM 167A 6
traveling a lot I found that North Carolina did have
one of the best prison systems that I have been able
to go into. And it's got one of the best facilities
for men, and as we move along, as time goes on, we
got this educational program. Now, I'm not saying
that all of our men are taking full benefit of that,
but if we can only get a few out of the group to
take full benefit of this educational program I think
it's well worth its while.
I: Yes, sir. Could you tell us some of...you visited
other states and you've seen a contrast between the
way they treat prisoners and they way their programs
run and they way they're run here in North Carolina.
I understand they're pretty uniform. I mean, the
same thing that holds true here also holds true in
H: Other states, yes, sir. I have traveled, I have been
fortunate enough to be able to go with the extradition
officers some for transfer of prisoners back to our
state--fugitives from justice, we call them. And I
remember one incident. We had one inmate escape from
Robeson here and I trailed him and he finally left
LUM 167A 7
the state. He went to New Orleans and he was captured
down there. And then they said he was fighting
extradition which I didn't much believe, but anyway,
we had to go down there. And I knew him well, and
we went down to pick him up and we had to go through
court there and after we got through with court,
they said he would be released to us in twenty minutes
at the main gate. So we came back out of court then,
the extradition officer and I, and come around and
got our car and came to the main gate. And there
we had to check our guns in, and we walked the hall-
way all the way down. -7id odor began to
swelling a little bit and I figured just in the
hallway, it's not too bad. But we got to about
middle way of this prison, we took a left into another
big room and it began to get worse. And it goes over
into that one. They say it's hard to escape from this
prison that we were in, and I believe they said, too,
they hadn't never had no one to escape from it. So
we took another left and coming back down into it
again, further over in there, and the odor was so
bad and as I noticed boys who were...had been beat
LUM 167A 8
by something. I don't know, they said inmates had
fought one another. Some of them was handcuffed
to the bars and one thing and another, and I said
to myself, "This is unlike North Carolina. We
have never had nothing like this in North Carolina
because we have one of the best prison systems," and
after seeing that I figure that we have something to
really be thankful for to have men in the state...
I: Yes, sir. This was Louisiana?
H: Yes, sir. Where they have men in the state to help
us to have prisons as we do have here.
I: Well, that certainly is an interesting incident
because that gave you a frame of reference, you know.
You can compare the two in your mind and you can be
very thankful that our people are much more progressive
in those-areas in this state, couldn't you?
H: Yes, sir.
I: ...appreciate what we have more.
H: Yes, sir. I've always appreciated my job and I'm one
of the...one of the...I think most officers is dedicated,
but I'm one that's really dedicated to my job. And
regardless to whether anyone is looking or not I do it
LUM 167A 9
to the best of my ability and do it like I think that
the guidebook would say do it under such circumstances.
And after walking through there, then I could rear my
chest back a little bit more when coming back out and
say surely we got one of the best Departments there
I: Yes, sir. It's one of the best in the United States.
I: That's something for which to be proud.
H: Yeah. Here at this unit we have had as many as five
different nationalities at this particular unit here
at one time, I remember. I don't know, I believe we
only have about three or four maybe here now,
three to be exact about it. There may be four. But
I know that there's three different nationalities
here now, and every man is treated as near alike as
we can. Some according to his ability may be talked
to in a different language, but I'm not showing no
partiality, of course. We have to talk to him in his
I: That's right. Well, that's certainly great. In other
LUM 167A 10
words, you treat another man like a man.
H: Yes, sir.
I: You treat a prisoner like a man.
H: Yes, sir. I have never seen a man here at this unit
or any of our units in the state mistreated, and I've
traveled, I've workedKthree and four different units
now, transferring prisoners to and from, and I've
worked the courts. Here in Robeson, I work our
court for the lieutenant here. And he's got so much
on his hands he turned the court over to me and I
work the court-and I have never seen a man in our
courts here go to court mistreated. I try to dress
him as nice as I can and carry him in there, and
the information I give the court is as near correct
as I know how to give it. And the other units that
I have had the privilege to visit, they have good
men there who go with them to court and they have
been going dressed as nice as they could...we could
afford to put them in.
I: Well, a number of things have changed within recent
years. For instance, you know, punishment and...this
work release idea is a great thing, isn't it?
LUM 167A 11
H: Yes, sir. We used to didn't have any work release
at all here. And like you mentioned the punishment,
we used to have what they call segregation and, of
course, the monotanouS diet went along with segregation.
And no reading material in there or anything. Most
of that's changed. We do have segregation right on,
but only things that will do it is to segregate the
boy2 who are giving us trouble, who deserves this
kind of punishment. We move him out there. He don't
communicate with the other boys. He only gets a
chance to talk with the officer maybe an hour and a
half or two hours, and that's the only communication
he's supposed to have. And we don't have the monotonous
diet now. They get a balanced diet same as the other
inmates do on the yard. Then we moved on up to the
work release. I believe we've got about fifty-some
on work release here nowjand we got this sponsor
program. And then we got the home passes--home leave,
they call it. And to an inmate who wishes to do him-
self well and tries to pull his time the short way,
we have nothing but the best here to offer him.
LUM 167A 12
I: Right, right. How does the sponsor program work?
I believe somebody explained the work release, now
how does the sponsor...is this where a man is released
to the custody of an employer, somebody who will
vouch for him?
H: He can be released to his mother, father, or his
wife or a preacher, a CON in the community.
Some reliable person, and we go out and check their
home, or we send a man out to check their home. And
he checks their home to see if they wish this inmate
to come out on a pass, and if they do then we ask
"Do you think you can control him-if he was out here,
do you think you can keep him with you?" and then we
go and see the law enforcement officer in that par-
ticular area, and if he has no objections we write
that on our paper also. We go visit another reliable
neighbor of that person who is a taxpaying citizen
and if they have no objection then we write that on
the paper, and we come back in, we say he's all...
everything's OK in the community. So then they go
through about...now we have changed the rule a little
LUM 167A 13
bit. It goes through about three more offices then
before his pass is signed to where they can pick him
up. On so many hours out on sponsor. Then after he
goes into this phase a while, there he's working on
phase one. He'll move to phase two. We may give
him a twenty-four hour. If everything goes good
he may get a twenty-four hour in a month or it may
be two months. It depends on what all the officers
think of this individual's attitude. Get a twenty-
four hour, then, a month. If we think he can do
it and without adding any more time to his sentence
he do have, then they give him that. Then, of course,
he finally works on up until he gets to phase three,
and in there in phase three you get just about any-
thing a civilian would get. The only thing, you'd
have to be here at night unless your job in town
would call for you to be over there working at night.
I: When a man gets an opportunity to help like
that, you know, and go out on work release, he's not
likely to mess himself up and lose his chance, is he?
H: Well, we haven't had too many to mess up when they're
LUM 167A 14
screened careful. Screened careful and talked too
closely and put on the right job. Now, the right
job means something, too. If you put a man out
there on a job, say, roofing and he's afraid to
be on a roof and he don't like the job and he can't
get himself adjusted to it, he is apt to mess up
more than he would if you put him on the ground if
that's where he wants to work. So we've had a few
things to happen like that, and I think that's the
reason for it, that they was on the wrong job. But
we've had pretty good success here as far as passes
and work release is concerned.
I: The morale of the men seems to be very good, you know,
from my observation. I can imagine where it would
be, you know, because this man doesn't feel hopeless,
he doesn't feel that everybody's against him, that
nobody cares about him. There seems to be a good
rapport, good working relationship between the officers
and the inmates. It just seems to be ideal, an ideal
situation, and I certainly congratulate you and the
others. I believe in this myself.
LUM 167A 15
H: Yeah, and it's growing better. One reason it's growing
better, the inmates are understanding it better. They
understand why, now, what grounds we pick him for work
release on. His attitude and his ability, and so they
try to keep straight when some of us walk through the
yard or go over and talk to him. He'll act a little
bit better now because he figures we're grading him
all the time. And they'll speak to you 4i*R more
courtesy, and then after they get on work release
they are...some of them are not on pass when they
go on work release. They don't have their sponsor
a~t ^T*, W Whey still try to treat us better and
talk better and he shows more initiative towards his
work because he's hoping that I'm grading him for a
pass somewhereAalong the line, that I wouldn't object
to it. So the morale is growing better all the time.
I: Well, I can imagine if, you know, a man, say, he's
shut off from his family. Maybe he has children,
maybe he has a wife. And might as well face it, if
I were in prison and I had a wife outside I'd be
worrying all the time. If I had children outside
LUM 167A 16
I'd be worried about them all the time. I probably
wouldn't be worth anything to myself or anybody else,
I'd be so worried all the time about them.
H: That's true.
I: So that certainly...it seems reasonable that this
would make a big difference in your attitude.
H: Yeah, if you can catch a fellow in here with a wife
and a family, a child or two, he will...he is the man
we need to help to try to keep that family together,
and I think that's what the state had intended for
us to do ismtry to help those that we could in order
to keep the family together and keep them from breaking
up. And then the work release /,, try to prevent
this family and children from having to suffer for
some things that they could have if the man was out
on the free street working. So in here, the state
does look out for them and try to send them some
money home to keep the children in school and Sunday
school and church and whatever.
I: I notice here that you have a chapel.
H: Yes, sir. We have services...
I: Do you have services every Sunday?
LUM 167A 17
H: Yes, sir. We have service there and on Saturday and
Sunday. Reverend Woods is the pastor for us here, and
of course, he don't be here every Sunday but he has
different ones who will take a Sunday and come out
and have service with the boys who can't go out on
pass and even some of them that goes out on pass.
They may not be going that particular day so they'll
attend services over there. We have a nice chapel
I: Are services usually well-attended?
H: There's not as many going now as there used to go
because we have a lot of them out on work-release,
have to work on Saturday. And, well, we've got a few
sometimes works on Sunday. And then the passes cuts
down on it some, so we don't have as many attending
as we used to have. There's some weekends we have
quite a few in there, though.
I: This was, uh..this church...was this the same church
that Miss Mary Livermore was...she used to be always
talking about it, wanting to see it established.
H: Yes, sir.
LUM 167A 18
I: DOzyou have a building, you know, or do you use
H: No, yes, sir. A/ ue ^.; is built for that
particular purpose. And Miss Mary Livermore, she
worked on it hard and took up money around and begged
money. And of course, the state helped some, I think.
I understand they had a part in it, too. I don't
remember the exact figures of all, but they did help
some. So we have a nice building there and an organ
and all in there. It's really set up nice.
I: That's good. I talked to one of the inmates yesterday
and he was telling me about, you know, how he'd been
blessed and said that God could work on prison grounds
just like anywhere else, and I'm sure this is true.
H: We've had one boy that come in here since I've been
working with the Department, and I knew this boy before
he caught his time. He was just a young boy. His
daddy was a farmer there and he finally got up with
the wrong group and caught him some time. And he got
in here and he was a real troublemaker for a long time
here. He even escaped one time and got more time there
for escape plus...plus I believe he got charged with a
LUM 167A 19
kidnap or something of that nature. And then he...we
got him back again and we talked with him from time to
time and tried to get him to 0r,... down to where
that he would start trying to live like a man ad we
finally got him to going to church out here. And we
noticed a change in him. And we kept working with
him. We finally put him on work release, and he finally
dedicated himself to the church. He said that he was
a Christian and he was going to do it. He was going
to live a Christian life until he died, and so he went
on and he's finally out now and he's preaching. And
I haven't heard him but someone told me that they believed
if God had ever called a man he was one of them. He's
making a fine citizen out in the community and we have
had...that was...we have had several reports of this
nature from him from around in his community where he
goes to. And that made us feel good to feel like we
had hit one man.
I: Yes, sir. I know he did. Do you set a percentage,
success percentage, for yourself? Do you sometimes
say, "Well, I'd like to set a goal for this year. If
we can rehabilitate fifty percent or sixty percent of
LUM 167A 20
the men who go out and successful. We won't
see them coming back again"?
H: Yeah. This is the only job that...when I went to
school way back in going to school for this particular
job, the man said, "This is the only job you'll ever
have like this." He said, "This is the job where we
work and we try to work ourselves out of a job." He
said, "I want you to always strive for that point, to
work yourselves out of a job." I guess sometimes we
set our goals too high, but we never reach our goal
because we set it higher than we can make. But we
still keep a-trying.
I: That gives you something to strive for.
H: Yes, sir. I'd rather have one too high than not have
a goal at all.
I: We interviewed before you a very interesting young man,
Mr. Samson. I'll tell:you, he is something else, isn't
H: Yeah. He's a fine man.
I: He's a great asset...
H: Yesc sir.
I: ...to this state. It seems to methis community, this
LUM 167A 21
institution, he certainly seems to have all the right
ideas and the right attitudes and all. I believe this
young man will go places.
H: He has helped us with a lot of inmates here. He has
helped us quite a bit since he's been here.
I: Do you find any differences in the age groups? Let's
see, about how Ji// do your age groups run from
about eighteen on up?
H: Yeah. We don't have too many eighteens here because
that's, uh...they usually go to one of our first offen-
ders' camps. Most of them is a little higher age than
I: I see.
H: Now, some, we have had some who have went there and
they...their attitudes and their working habits were
such Altit they finally sent them back before the CC
Board--Central Classification, a committee--and they
placed them back out in a field unit. But we don't
have too many that age down here now. They're up
a little higher.
I: Well, when you work with men like this, does the age
have anything to do with their conduct, do you think,
LUM 167A 22
or could it be, say, a man with a bad attitude. Is
he usually a younger man or an older man or could he
be either one, or...?
H: Again, it could be either one. Again, the conduct
has something to do with his home training. If he
hasn't had the home training that he should have,
it may take this man...he may be thirty-five years
old before he becomes to be what we call a "young"
man, before he realizes what he's doing. Now, I
have seen some who come in here at twenty years
old and twenty-two years old was just as stable and
as solid as a forty-year-old man.
I: It all depends on the individual.
H: Yeah. The home training that he's had and what
happened out there. Some of them just got off with
the wrong group and wouldn't do it again for nothing
if they was back out there. But yet they got caught
this time and got pulled this time.
I: I've heard some people say, you know, say that the
only difference between people on the outside
and people in a prison camp is that some got caught
and some didn't. What do you think of that statement?
LUM 167A 23
H: Well, I imagine most of us have made mistakes of
some kind all during life and through life, and so
I guess that would hold true to a certain extent,
you know, maybe.
I: What do you look forward to for the future? Can you...
what do you think this prison camp will be like, say,
five years or ten years from now?
H: I believe, I believe we're working towards a nice
school. And that's what I'm hoping is a nice school,
and a trade school and an educational school in a unit
of this nature. And then to where...we have some in
here who, with a little schooling, could hold down a
good job, but without the schooling he can only have
a common laborer job. And I'd love to see this nice
school come in here to where that we could use them
who need a little education, give it to him, or maybe
a training on a particular job, and put him out there
on a job to where he could survive for himself or a
I: So the matter of economics does come into the thing of
crime. You know, I don't know much about crime and
so-called criminals. I don't like to think of anybody
LUM 167A 24
as a criminal.
H: We have very few, very few criminals in the state.
Back of every incident that comes in here, if you'll
study it careful enough, there was a motive for it.
And sometimes the motive there would just be a misun-
derstanding and he wouldn't...this wouldn't put him
in the category of a criminal, I don't figure. I
figure he needs another chance and then this will
never happen to him again.
I: If he had it to do over again he very probably wouldn't
H: That's true.
I: Well, I wanted to ask you about capital punishment.
Of course, you can give me your opinion if you like
or if you'd rather not give it that would be all
right, too. I don't want you to tell me anything
you don't want to tell me. Do you think it's...do
you think we should have it or we shouldn't? Should
we have life imprisonment or should we have the death
penalty is what I'm thinking about in particular.
H: We've had so many different people's opinions on this
and, of course, some of them...I've never had a debate
LUM 167A 25
with any of them because I've always studied it over.
Now, I'm not a man who believes in just murdering
somebody but I am a man that...I believe if I would
just go out and drink or something or other and
deliberately kill your wife, I think the state should
take mine because I still think it would slow down
some of the things if we had capital punishment.
I: Well, that's certainly interesting. Of course, a
lot of people as you say have different opinions
I: And maybe that problem will be ironed out. You don't
think we're too easy on our prisoners, do you?
H: No. In some instances maybe we may be a little
light but I don't know the circumstances in every
case. If we understood the circumstances I might
think we was just right in all cases, you know. I
know our officers, I don't doubt any of my officers'
decisions and very few of them doubts mine. Now,
they say they don't doubt them. But I have some-
times, I may feel a little light on one instance and
LUM 167A 26
do a little light there but I have a reason for it
sometime. And like I say, I don't doubt theirs
because they may let a fellow get away with something
sometimes that maybe somebody that's sitting off
over there says "Surely he should have been busted."
But not every time, because I never know the circum-
stances. I think we are coming along pretty good
as far being with the rIfA S and, uh...
I: In other words, each case is an individual case to
be tried on its...considered on its own merits.
H: Yes, sir. That's the way I look at it.
I: Well, it's certainly encouraging to come around to
the institution here and talk to people, learn these
things about it. And I think we are becoming a model
for the other states.
I: Did you go in any other states besides the state of
H: Not to pick up...well, I've been in South Carolina.
I: Have you observed their...?
H: South Carolina is similar. It's not as good as North
Carolina, but yet it's far above the other...Louisiana,
LUM 167A 27
it's far above it. They operate a little bit dif-
ferent there than we do here but they hIe some nice
facilities in South Carolina. It's not as good as
North Carolina, of course.
I: North Carolina and South Carolina are sister states
and they probably imitate each other to some degree.
H: To some degree.
I: And maybe South Carolina imitates North Carolina
more than the other way around.
H: Yeah, I think in the housing and the cooking facilities
they do. We were in one here a while back. We had
to go to a prison in South Carolina and pick up one
of our men and I noticed their living quarters and
their cooking facilities. They carried us through
the kitchen and let us look over everything and I
asked several questions. They're coming along about
the way we do in that line, in that respect.
I: Food used to be atrociously bad just about everywhere.
I mean, many years ago when I was a boy if you can
imagine back that far. I remember talking to some
prisoners and I said, 'Well, don't you get beef on
LUM 167A 28
Sundays" "Oh, well. They run the cow through the
room on Sundays." But you get real balanced diets
H: Yeah, the state has a dietician hired to write the
menus up all over the state.
I: Everybody getsthe same...
H: Yes, sir. Every inmate receives a balanced diet.
And I used to work the kitchen here some/two or three
days a week there. And when I would work it if I
would go down there and say I'm going to prepare
this or that and it's not on the menu, and the cap-
tain would come down there and find it I'd get me
a week or two off without pay. And if he caught me
that again I would be fired. Because that's how
strict we watch the menu here. And even though now we
have kitchen supervisors and stewards and stuff of
this nature, the captain still goes down and checks
over this food and everything and if he was to find
something wrong he would call it in question immediately.
Because we mean to serve the menu that the dietician
sends to all of the units over the state and we carry
LUM 167A 29
it out. And they do have good food.
I: There used to be a time--I believe, correct me if I'm
wrong--you know, what I call in the old days, for
example in the jail...well, it's in the institutions,
too. It seems to me if I remember correctly that
they were simply allowed so much money...just like
saying, "All right, you got so much money. Feed
these men out of this."
I: And if you didn't do it...you had to pinch probably,
do it the best you could.
H: Yeah, well, we still have budgets to go on. We still
have a budget, but that budget...
I: Is sufficient.
H: ...is sufficient to take care of our groceries and
give the boys still the same balance that they're
supposed to have because this budget is always prepared,
the meal-budget is always prepared against that menu
to where you can feed according to your recipe.
I: For example, we used to...lima beans, I believe. Was
it lima beans? Yeah, I believe it was. Lima beans
just about every day, it seems.
LUM 167A 30
H: Yeah. We used to have what they call they call the
bean pots, you know. We carried them on the road just
like we did the water kegs. And every day for lunch
we'd heat up the bean pot and we got beans out there.
And every day just about. But now it's different.
I: You've got a different...
HI Yeah, they got...
I: ...a varied diet.
H: Yeah, and in the unit here, the men who stays in the
unit gets three hot meals a day here. And the boys
on the road, they do have to carry their lunches out
but they get a balanced diet there and the right kind
of sandwiches. They don't...we don't just slap
peanut butter together there and send it out to them.
We send them ham sandwiches and all this and that.
I: Well, even beans are expensive today.
H: That's true.
I: But I seem to remember back in the old days it would
be lima beans and cornbread for dinner.
I: I don't know about the other, but I've heard, you
LUM 167A 31
know, people working on road gangs and so on...
I: ...this is what they usually would have for lunch.
And stew beef on Sunday and that sort of thing.
I: Well, it certainly is encouraging and I certainly
wish you and all the other officers of this institution
and the institution itself Godspeed in helping to
rehabilitate these men. Instead of punishing them,
make them fit for society again, giving them another
chance and hopefully and prayerfully that they may
go back and start all over again and be better men
for their mistakes. I believe that mistakes can
actually make you a better person, because...
H: That's true. If you take zca^/e_____
that mistake, you know. I mean what I mean, see
where you did make it at and just make sure you don't
make that one again.
H: And I think it would help us all to live better.
I: Well, is there any particular thing you'd like to
LUM 167A 32
see changed that's not in the plans?
H: No. No, not right now. The only thing, the only
thing I--and I hate to grumble too much about this
because I'm just one of so many hundreds of men who
have the same treatment over the state...we strive
and we took an oath that we would do our best and
we have been doing it. And of course, it looks like
maybe the state might be paying us as much as they
can U_ the time being, but I'd love to see
a price change come to where that we could get paid
for all of the hours that we put in on this, and
get graded according to the ability the man has
for the job whether he's got a master's degree or
a high school diploma or whatever he's got. If he's
doing a good job he deserves a nice salary.
I: Yes, sir. What 4JfA A/ work)we need, we all have
to eat, don't we?
I: And work and have shelter over us. I'm certainly
hopeful that there'll be something done in this area.
LUM 167A 33
It's the only way to reasonably expect the best talent.
You know, we've been pretty lucky to get as good people
as we've got.
I: And you know, and still in most state positions...it's
not just in the prison system but other systems, too.
I mean the pay just isn't enough.
H: I know it's not enough. You see, most of...well, we've
got a lot of fellows on work release who are making
more money here than the officers are making. And
the officers, somebody might say, well, if they could,
why don't they go on over there and get them a job
over there with the inmates, you know, and make the
same amount of money. But in this line of work, once
you get used to it and once you feel like you have
helped somebody, you'll keep on helping him regardless
of the pay. But somebody ought to see that the man
is interested enough in it to stay with it, he ought
to have enough pay to justify him for staying.
I: Well, there is a certain amount of love of your
fellow man involved in prison work.
LUM 167A 34
H: Yes, sir. When I was hired here, the captain he's
been here about now...of course at that time he hadn't
been here quite that long but I believe he's been
here about twenty-four years now. And he told me,
I: That's Alvy Oxendine.
H: Yes, sir. He said, "I want you to come here and
everything is set to go now and I want you to come.
There's one more thing I'd like to make a statement
to you about. I want you to come and I want you to
be, act like one big family regardless of what officer-he
is or which unit he's from." He said, "He's one of
H: "And I want you to look out for him and when you begin
to feel that you can't look out for the other officer
because he's way up the state or somewhere or other,"
he said, "I want you to resign before I find it out."
And so I got here and I've found that that's true. Even
though I may be in Raleigh up there, if another officer
sees me and I want to ask him a question, he takes time
LUM 167A 35
to answer me or takes time to help me in whatever I
want to do, and I do them the same way.
I: There's something I've often had curiosity about, and
that is sometimes there's such things as grudges the
prisoners might hold, whether rightly or wrongly. It
seems at times there might be such a thing as that.
Have you ever run into anything like that? Do you
worry about somebody might hold something against
you whether he's right or wrong? You say, well
now, that's discipline. I had to do my duty toward
him and I know I did the best I could and I did it
as fair as I could before God, but how would he feel
about it when he gets out? yill he kov, ...?
H: Well, I've had this to happen and we don't worry
about it. We don't worry too much about a grudge.
If I've done my job and done it the best I know how
and the way the state has told me to do it, then I
feel like the man will realize it sooner or later,
that he had made the mistake and not me. And I've
never had no trouble. I have had some here who have
went three and four weeks without speaking to me, and
LUM 167A 36
I still, whenever I call the roll or move them from
one place to another, he would march through but he
never spoke to me. Finally he'd break down and speak
to me andAtell me he's sorry that he hadi.been acting
like he did and I'd claim that I hadn't even noticed it.
Hadn't even noticed it, and he'd apologize to me for
acting that way because he knew I had operated on the
grounds that I had to operate on.
I: Right. He knew that you had been r
deep down inside.
H: Yeah, yeah. I have never dealt unfair with an inmate.
I: Well, I certainly appreciate your giving us this inter-
view. Looks like our tape is running kind of short
here. We were talking about...a minute ago we were
talking about pay and everything and the different
hours and so on. Aren't the hours different for
H: j G oh, 1 ;they have three shifts here. They work...
one shift come in the morning from six till two--that's
the first shift. And the second shift comes on..........
..... .... .... ..... .... .... ..... .... .... ..... .... ....
LUM 167A 37
I: This is Side Two of the interview with Mr. Hunt. Mr.
Hunt, we were talking about...something about the
hours in your work. Sometimes you have to work long
hours, particularly when you're on a special job
and you have to go pick up a prisoner and deliver him
somewhere else and something like this. Can you
remember where we were when the tape-ran out? About?
H: I believe we up there about the second shift. Like
I say, the first shift comes on from six till two and
the second from two till ten. Third shift from ten
till six in the morning. But I work on a more or
less a handyman's job, outside security, transferring
prisoners from one place to another, 4 J &4 X4
Ac / K 4 escapees. This
involves more time than just a regular shift.
H: Sometimes I have to worltwenty-four or maybe...and
have even worked thirty-six hours, as much as thirty-
six hours before going back in home.
I: Without sleep?
LUM 167A 38
I: You just have to keep after the man until he's
H: As long as I get any information where-he's at and
where he's moving to or got a track on him, I keep
I: If you stop then, he might get...
H: He would have time probably to maybe steal him a
car or catch a ride or something. And so this, I
don't want anything on him other than this escape
charge against him.
I: Uh-huh. Sometimes when they escape they have to
commit other crimes in order to stay escaped, right?
H: That's true.
I: Or it's hopeful, that they hope to do this.
H: Yeah. We have had some, we have had some men who
left here who stole cars and some have robbed stations,
and even robbed private homes in order to try to get
means to stay at large. But if we could ever get it
through their minds that an individual will make two
mistakes in life, one when he does one, and then he's
gonna make a mistake and get caught. Because I'm
gonna be there when he makes that second mistake.
LUM 167A 39
H: I try to be there when he makes that second mistake.
I: Right. I seem to remember a case several years ago
where a black escapee allegedly raped an Indian school
teacher. But I believe this is about the only case
like this that I've ever heard of in this county.
H: Yeah, we don't have too much of it here in this
county. Not rape, or we don't have too much of inmates
escaping and raping.
I: They don't have time to hanky-panky around, do they?
I: ...keep moving.
H: ...trying to move along to get away. And especially
now with the way we're set up. They...if one escapes
they call us immediately and I get up regardless to
hour of the day or night it is or where I'm at, I'll
be called and I come. And I have got up at twelve and
one o'clock, and I believe the last escape we had down
here, last two or three escapes we had here was early
in the morning about five o'clock when they called
me, a quarter to five. And I come right on down.
So we stay after them so that nothing will happen out
in the country if we can prevent it.
LUM 167A 40
I: When men escape like this, they don't break, say,
actually break out. Do they take advantage of some
trust or something of this...?
H: Some trust. They usually, mostly,if you have one to leave
this unit he's honor grade and he's assigned to a
particular job and he can get in and out very easy.
We seldom have a gun man, we've never had but a
few gun men to leave this unit because they've got
'h. (C? ) M td e ( and we've got
officers out there who are to keep them in. But
a honor grade goes in and out of the fence if he's
assigned to a job, to keep that job going, and the
officer don't be watching him all the time so there-
fore he can walk off when he gets ready. Just like
I: I remember talking to a person who has been an inmate,
you know. I guess he was here some years ago and he
was telling me, says, "I just got so fed up with
being locked up I just had to try to make a break
for it." Says, "I started running." Said, "The
guard could have killed me." But he says, "He didn't
have heart to do it. He just let me run. So I fell
LUM 167A 41
down and he ran and caught me," or something like that.
He said, "But I've thought about that thing and I have
to love that man because he...under the law he could
have shot me down and killed me dead." And he says,
"I was right out in the open," and he said, "the faster
I moved my feet the slower I went, it looked like. And
so I was scared of being shot." He says, "I couldn't
back down then." Said he fell down or something. But
he said, "I love that man today because he could have
killed me if he wanted to and he would have been jus-
H: Yeah, well. It's a little different as far as the gun
man's concerned now. See, we used to check out the ones
who went on the road and we'd lock the other ones up.
They stayed locked up until the other boys came back
in off of the road. And then we'd turn them out I \
F'C G But now we man the towers all day long,
about twelve hours, maybe a little better. And these
men that don't go on the road and are in gun C [__S__
they do have the freedom of walking all over the yard
and we have a telephone out there and everything, the
hobby shop. Those that are not in school, that have
LUM 167A 42
other classes, they can be on the telephone or reading
a magazine of something under the shade tree. So it
is a little bit better now than it used to be.
I: Yes, sir. Do you find it in your experience, sir, that
say, an escapees family will try to help him although
they know it's against the law. Do they have a tendency
to harbor him and hide him?
H: We have a few who, maybe not harbor him, but they'll
let him come into their homes without notifying us.
We have a few of this nature, but as a whole they'll
try to keep him away from them because they know it's
a violation of the law to uphold a felony or help a
felony to stay at large. But they won't, some of them
won't cooperate. Those...we have a few good families
or good citizens right on that will tell us about these
I: Yes, sir. Let me ask you, do you still use bloodhounds?
I mean, are they still used?
H: Yes, sir. Not as much as we used to, but we used to
have the bloodhounds here. I had one. But we have
one unit in the southeast area who keeps the blool'- .'le
LUM 167A 43
now, and when I need one I have to call / c
and they come bring it here and we use it. But most
of our fellows now, as I stated a while ago leaves
from off of being honor grade and walk off and leave O
by i/ use of the telephone, they usually have
them a way already set up, the ride. And so the blood-
hounds are not too good in a case like that.
I: Yes, sir. They're interesting animals. They must be
very intelligent animals.
H: They are. We had one here that I trained. And we got
him as a puppy, and I'd take him out there and train
him and I'd get me some kind of sandwich or other and
when we'd accomplish the mission that I had laid out
for him to do, I'd give him a sandwich. And thought
then from then on, he'd just go ahead and work hard
so he could get something to eat. So I'd always carry
something there to try to keep him pacified with, and
I finally got him to where I could run him, if the
weather weren't too hot I could run him all night.
All' you have to is put him on the trail and let him
LUM 167A 44
H: Where the man went. Where the man went, and then he'll
just follow it.
I: Wonder why they call him a bloodhound. It isn't the
blood he sniffs, is it?
H: No. No. I don't know, it's just...
I: I'm curious. I love animals. For example, a guide that
a blind person uses is a very intelligent animal.
H: Yeah, yeah. He uses...
I: For example, if you come up near a blind person who
has a guide like this, you have something in your heart
against this person, this dog is so sensitive that he
seems to know this and he won't let you nearhim.
H: Yeah, I've noticed that. Yeah.
I: You know, and then he's so intelligent he can actually...
he can disobey an order intelligently. For example, if
a blind person says, "Go ahead, lead me across the high-
way," this dog's not gonna do it if this person is in
danger. He'll disobey that order.
I: And that takes a lot of intelligence.
H: It does, it does, to disobey your master for the benefit
LUM 167A 45
of the master. That's a wonderful animal.
I: It's intelligent disobedience.
H: Yeah. I love dogs. I've got a few bird dogs myself
and I play with them when I have a chance. And I
don't kill many birds but I just love to work with
them and see them work.
I: If the bloodhound reaches this person before you do,
would he attack him?
H: No, we've never had a bloodhound...
I: Would it just bark and let you know where it is?
H: No, he won't even bark. He'll go in and play with
him. I have never had a bloodhound that would bite
I: Is that right?
H: ^ I had one that would bite a man in the box when you
started to put the leash on him, and after you get the
leash on him anyone could hold the leash and he wouldn't
I: So when you're hunting men you have to take them off
the leash, though, don't you?
H: No, no. I leave the leash on him because, you see, I
have put them on the trail and we have run fifteen miles
and I'd have to slow him up because I couldn't hold out
LUM 167A 46
fifteen miles right straight and I'd have to slow him
down. And if he didn't have the leash on him, you
couldn't slow him down.
I: He goes through the woods, the same path that the
escaped person took.
I: That's the course he follows.
H: He may not be right behind him on the same path, but
he'll be in so many feet of one side or the other of
that trail because he smells bit. And he'll...every
once in a while, he'll come back up to it and cross
it, wander off it on the right, but he won't get but
so many feet. If he does, he'll turn around because
he knows he's missed it and come back.
I: If he has to cross a stream, this throws him off,
though, doesn't it?
H: No. The odor will stay on a wet place more than it
will a dry place.
I: It will?
H: Crossing a stream of water is good for the bloodhound.
I: Well, I declare.
LUM 167A 47
H: I have crossed...I have crossed the river three times
in one day and they would swim across there and come
out over there where the man come out at.
I: I've often wondered about that. Suppose he swims
downstream a piece. That still doesn't turn the
H: No, no. That dog...he'll be wet any way and if he
ever hits the bank, see, he leaves an odor there that
will reach fifty, seventy-five yards upstream or
I: That really is remarkable. But I certainly want to
thank you for your patience and your time in giving
us this interview. You've been very helpful and
very informative. We've talked about an hour now,
I suppose. And I know how it is and your schedule
and everything, but on behalf of the Doris Duke
Foundation and the University of Florida's History
Department, I want to thank you very much and con-
gratulate you oncthe fine work you're doing here
and wish the institution and you and al the other
officers 4f C ^ sGodspeed in what
you're attempting to do because you're working with
LUM 167A 48
fellow human beings and it's one of the most encouraging
stories I've ever come across, the story of the growth
and so forth of this institution. I'm very proud of
the institution and our people who work here. I'm
so proud of you and thank you very much, sir.
H: Thank you. Thank you, sir.
--END OF TAPE--