Martin Tabert was a 22-year-old man from Munich, North Dakota who was arrested on a charge of vagrancy for being on a train without a ticket[when?] in Tallahassee, Florida. Tabert was convicted and fined $25. Although his parents sent $25 for the fine, plus $25 for Tabert to return home to North Dakota, the money disappeared in the Leon County prison system where Sheriff James Robert Jones earned $20 for every prisoner he leased out. He sent Tabert to work at the Putnam Lumber Company in Clara, Florida, approximately 60 miles (97 km) south of Tallahassee in Dixie County.
Tabert was whipped with a leather strap by supervisor Thomas Walter Higginbotham, a "whipping boss", until he died. Coverage of Tabert's killing by the New York World newspaper in 1924 earned it the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Governor Cary A. Hardee ended Florida's system of convict leasing in 1923, in part spurred on by the Tabert case and the resulting publicity.
- Staff (2013). "Timeline: 1921". Florida Department of Corrections. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- Florida's Past Volume 3 Gene M. Burnett, Pineapple Press, Sarasota, FL (1988) p. 122-25
- "Whipping Boss will Go Free", Associated Press, Jul 17, 1925, quoted in Miami News, from news.google.com
- Richard Godden; Martin Crawford (2006). Reading Southern Poverty Between the Wars, 1918-1939. University of Georgia Press. pp. 97–99. ISBN 978-0-8203-2708-2.