Ferguson Unit

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Jim Ferguson Unit
Ferguson Unit is located in Texas
Ferguson Unit
Location in Texas
Location 12120 Savage Drive
Midway, Texas 75852
Coordinates 30°57′31″N 95°42′17″W / 30.95861°N 95.70472°W / 30.95861; -95.70472Coordinates: 30°57′31″N 95°42′17″W / 30.95861°N 95.70472°W / 30.95861; -95.70472
Status Operational
Security class G1-G4, Administrative Segregation, Outside Trusty, Transient
Capacity Unit: 2,100 Trusty Camp: 321
Opened June 1962
Managed by TDCJ Correctional Institutions Division
Warden Charles Vondra
County Madison County
Country US
Website www.tdcj.state.tx.us/unit_directory/fe.html
Topographic maps of the Ferguson Unit and the Eastham Unit, July 1, 1983 - U.S. Geological Survey

Jim Ferguson Unit (FE) is a Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison for men located in unincorporated Madison County, Texas. The 4,355 acres (1,762 ha) prison is located on Farm to Market Road 247, near Midway and 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Huntsville.[1]


The unit was named after James E. Ferguson, a Governor of Texas.[2] In 1935 Ferguson housed White and African American prisoners.[3] The current Ferguson Unit opened in June 1962.[1] Jack D. Kyle, the warden of Ferguson, supervised the construction of the current facility, which began in the northern hemisphere fall of 1959. The facility was re-designated as a young offenders unit, for men between the ages of 18 and 25. The first prisoners moved into the facility on March 2, 1962.[4]

In May 1965 the prison had 1,047 prisoners, with a capacity of 1,136 prisoners. As of May 1965, the then 34-year-old Kyle was the youngest warden in the Texas Prison System.[4]


In May 1965, while Ferguson was a young offenders unit, the prison had 1,047 prisoners. About 45% were White, about 29% were Black, and about 26% were Hispanic and Latino. Almost all of the prisoners were between the ages of 17 and 21, with the exception of classroom instructors, shop instructors, and other key prisoner personnel. Prisoners came from all over the state, with various economic levels, urban and rural locations, and troubled and un-troubled upbringings represented.[4]

Bob Johnson of the Houston Post said that the prisoners were "just boys — older boys, perhaps, but still boys."[4] According to Kyle, fewer than 2% of the young male Ferguson prisoners had high school diplomas, almost 20% of the young male prisoners were illiterate, and 83% of the young male prisoners had received below a 9th grade education.[4] At the time, the recidivism rate was 9.3%, compared to the state average of 27% and the national average of 50%.[4]


The Ferguson unit, a red brick facility, is located in a woodland. In 1965 Bob Johnson of the Houston Post said that Ferguson, "at first glance, looks like it might be a small agricultural college" except that the presence of barbed wire demonstrates that the facility is a prison.[4] Johnson said that Ferguson was "a neat new prison with lots of greenery[...]"[4]

In 1965 the prison, with a capacity of 1,136 prisoners, housed most of its inmates in individual cells. It had 935 individual cells, and two dormitories with 100 prisoners each.[4]

Notable prisoners[edit]

  • Craig Ahrens, accomplice of the murder of Buddy Musso[5]
  • Terence Singleton, accomplice of the murder of Buddy Musso[6]
  • Steve McQueen in 1972's "The Getaway."


  1. ^ a b "Ferguson Unit." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on September 29, 2011.
  2. ^ "1995 Annual Report." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on July 21, 2010.
  3. ^ Trulson, Chad R., James W. Marquart, and Ben M. Crouch. First Available Cell: Desegregation of the Texas Prison System. University of Texas Press, 2009. 81. Retrieved from Google Books on July 16, 2010. ISBN 0-292-71983-3, ISBN 978-0-292-71983-5.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Johnson, Bob. "Record Proves Kyle's Success Warden of Youth Prison." Houston Post. Sunday May 2, 1965. Section 2, Page 12. Available via microfilm from the Houston Public Library Central Library Jesse H. Jones Building.
  5. ^ "Ahrens, Craig" (Archive). Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on December 28, 2015.
  6. ^ "Singleton Terence Jermaine" (Archive). Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on December 28, 2015.

External links[edit]