The Wynne Unit

The Wynne Unit was the first prison farm established by the state of Texas in 1883. It was named after John Magruder Wynne who worked for the Texas prison system and served on its Board of Trustees from 1878 to 1881. Today, the farm spans approximately 1,415 acres and houses roughly 2,600 inmates.

When the Wynne Farm was initially purchased, it was used as a place “for older and handicapped prisoners to work.” The farm also served as an experimental site for prison gardening and the production of cotton and animal fodder, which were supplied to Huntsville's Walls Unit.

The Wynne Unit also housed the prison system’s Tubercular Ward, which held between sixty and seventy patients. In 1928, a prisoner set fire to the tubercular ward after guards discovered a five-foot deep, twenty-foot long tunnel that the prisoners had dug underneath it in hopes of escape.

The first modern structure at the Wynne Unit was completed in 1937 and was built with inmate labor. Called the Old Building, it consists of "eight dormitories on the first two floors and solitary and segregation on the third and fourth floor.” The Old Building is architecturally unique for its five “spoke” structure, which allows one officer to see all the levels of the building from one spot.

In 1959, a Treatment Center for the mentally ill was built on the unit, which included its own medical facilities. This later became known as B-Wing and is where administrative segregation is located on the unit today.

Out of the units located in Huntsville, the Wynne Unit is the most industrialized. The Unit houses a mattress factory, tag and sticker plant, box factory, food service warehouse, graphics facility, freight transportation, sign shop, diesel repair, computer repair, and a tire/wrecker operation. The Wynne Unit still adheres to its agricultural roots, however, with its egg production, farm shop, peach orchards, edible and field crops, pest control, hog feeding, veterinary clinic, security horses, and narcotic, scent specific, and pack dogs. Today, the Wynne Unit is home to the inmate newspaper The Echo.

In July of 2008, inmate Michael McCumber, who was a trusty groundskeeper, escaped from the Wynne Unit on a bicycle he had stolen. He was captured fifteen miles north of Huntsville along the Interstate 45 shoulder in Madison County. Before his escape, he was to be eligible for parole that following June.