In tracing the lineage of the American Prisoner’s Rights Movement, historians of penology most often look to a series of landmark legal decisions that, throughout the 1960s, established a wide variety of due process rights for both convicts and the accused on state and federal levels. In the rare instances in which scholars try to locate the social origins of this legal revolution, they most often point to a series of inmate riots that gripped more than fifty maximum-security prisons over an eighteen-month stretch between 1952 and 1953 (Hawkins, 1976; Pallas and Berber, 1973). Motivated by the need for better food and improved facilities, thousands of inmates were mobilised around the United States, setting fires, taking hostages, and demanding national news coverage of their appeals, bringing the central concerns of what would later become the formal Prisoners’ Rights Movement into the public consciousness. While discussions of these riots are invaluable for framing the grassroots origins of later legal challenges, penal historians have yet to undertake a systematic search for the movement’s earliest roots, much less a study of how inmates’ ideas and aspirations spread throughout the country, despite the existence of excellent scholarship on the early histories of other major civil rights movements (Chauncey, 1994; Kelley, 1994) which might serve as useful models for understanding the ways in which the civil rights ethos was spread and disseminated from region to region and, ultimately, became the subject of a national dialogue.