Longform

Cowboy Justice

Page 9 of 9

Understandably, the absence of any commanders' names from the Cowboy indictment was a sore point among the defendants. "Why isn't Hines at the front of the table?" asked Pruyne's attorney, Daniel Smith. "Why does this conspiracy stop where the brass starts?"

It was a damn good question. The Cowboys got indicted. Their supervisors got promoted. Every corrections officer knows that the bodies on the front line are the ones who get blamed for everything, regardless of how it goes down. Still, these seven men, men who wielded such extraordinary power over the lives of other human beings, never expected to find themselves quite so alone, so vulnerable, like...like prisoners.

Perhaps their crime was thinking they were above the law, but they weren't the only people in the Florence pen who thought that way. Their folly was believing that the people who truly had the power, the ones who'd told them to take care of business, would still be standing by them when the business failed.

For related stories please see Crime and Punishment

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast