According to the 2010 Census, 2,097 of the 36,273 inhabitants of Hale County are in prison. That’s no reflection on Hale or its county seat — the little city of Plainview, located just north of Lubbock.
It’s just an artifact of what might be the most common publicly funded enterprise dotting the rural Texas landscape — a correctional institution, or in the case of Hale, two side-by-side state jails, the Wheeler and Formby units, the former named for a local banker and the latter for a radio pioneer who served a term in the Texas Senate.
The story you're reading is premium content from the Austin American-Statesman. Subscribers get total access to all our in-depth news, digital editions and exclusive premium content. You can now also buy a 24-hour digital pass or 7-day digital pass.
For Subscribers: Sign in here if you have already registered your account.Sign In
For Subscribers: Register your account for digital access.Access Digital
Read MyStatesman.com now — 24-hour digital pass99¢ for 24-hours
Read MyStatesman.com all week — 7-day digital pass$3.99 for 7-days
Subscribe to the Statesman for as little as 33¢ per dayView Offers
Jonathan Tilove, the American-Statesman’s chief political writer, has written extensively about demographics and political power.
Texas counties with biggest proportion of prisoners
There are 40 Texas counties, and a few cities, with proportionally larger – sometimes far larger – prison populations than Hale County. Here is a list of counties in which prisoners are more than 20 percent of the population.
Place / Total Population / Incarcerated Population / Percent Incarcerated
Concho County / 4,087 / 1,556 / 38%
Garza County / 6,461 / 1,995 / 31%
Mitchell County / 9,403 / 2,296 / 24%
Jones County / 20,202 / 4,807 / 24%
La Salle County / 6,886 / 1,583 / 23%
Bee County / 31,861 / 7,196 / 23%
Anderson County / 58,458 / 13,163 / 23%
Reeves County / 13,783 / 3,034 / 22%
Hartley County / 6,062 / 1,333 / 22%
Karnes County / 14,824 / 3,159 / 21%
Source: Prison Policy Initiative