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OLD MONTANA PRISON: EARLY BEGINNINGS


Visions of immediate wealth and unlimited riches lured thousands to Montana where, by 1866, the population numbered approximately 28,000.

Judge Hezekiah L. Hosmer, organizer of Montana's first Territorial court, was one who argued for the sanctity of law.


"Let us give everyman, how aggravated soever his crime, the full benefit of the freeman's right--an impartial trial by jury. Vigilantes and courts--and all good men can cooperate in fulfilling the grand purpose of the criminal law; that of bringing offenders to justice, without violating any of its provisions; but the very first element in such a warfare against crime must be the general recognition of courts of law, as the great conservator of peace and safety."


The inhabitants of Montana Territory demanded not only protection against crime, but also the means to enforce sentences handed down by the courts. The construction of a Territorial prison became mandatory if peace was to reign in Montana.

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