Sugar Land, TX - Sugar Land City Council recently approved an interlocal agreement with Fort Bend Independent School district to honor and preserve the memory of victims of the convict lease prison system.
The agreement builds on the ongoing work of the City Manager’s Task Force on the Convict Lease Memorial, a group created to make a recommendation on the interment, memorialization and ceremonial funeral details of historical remains discovered on property owned by Fort Bend ISD.
The task force – a diverse group of community members, academics, scientists, activists and other stakeholders – researched various burial options throughout Texas and preferred reburial at the school district’s James Reese Career and Technical Education Center, the construction site where the human remains were discovered in an unmarked cemetery on Feb. 19. The task force was informed that legal restrictions prevent Fort Bend ISD from reburying the remains and maintaining a cemetery on school district property, so their second option was reinterment at the city of Sugar Land’s Old Imperial Prison Farm Cemetery, 6440 Easton Ave.
Sugar Land’s interlocal agreement with Fort Bend ISD specifies the relocation and interment of the historical remains at the city’s cemetery.
The task force will continue to provide input and advice to the city on matters related to pursing DNA analysis, memorialization, funeral details and educational awareness.
The land owned by the city was proactively acquired in 2006 to preserve and protect the Old Imperial Prison Farm Cemetery and surrounding land. The property comprised just over 63 acres and has been designated as parkland -- no development has occurred on the city’s site. The action taken by the city ensured that the cemetery would not suffer the same fate as many others across the country that have been neglected, forgotten and disappeared into history.
Should park development occur in the future, the city will work with the Texas Historical Commission and comply with all state antiquities laws and regulations governing archeological preservation prior to development. Additionally, the city will continue its coordination with the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation – which was established by the city to preserve and document the community’s rich history – including the Old Imperial Prison Farm Cemetery on the city’s property.
In 2016, the city’s cemetery was designated a state historical site. An official marker designating the history of the cemetery and prison was installed; this city-led initiative was the result of more than a year of extensive research and coordination with the Fort Bend Historical Commission and the Texas Historical Commission.
The city’s cemetery contains the remains of prisoners and guards who died from 1912-1942 at the Texas Department of Corrections’ Central Prison Unit. Learn about the city’s cemetery and efforts to preserve, protect and honor the area’s past, visit www.sugarlandtx.gov/ImperialFarmCemetery.
For more on the important work of the task force, visit www.sugarlandtx.gov/ConvictLeaseMemorial.