Beeville, Texas: 4.30 a.m.
One by one the bosses clip-clop over to one of the guard towers that surround the prison. They chat for a while among themselves, waiting amiably on horseback. Above them, the picket guard attaches a rope to a plastic milk crate, then lowers the crate over the side. Inside the crate are the bosses’ guns.
They are .357 Magnums, and the bosses are authorized to shoot to kill. When the crate reaches saddle height, each boss dips in and grabs one. There is one more guard on horseback, and he stays aloof from the others. He is known as the Highrider, and he is armed not with a pistol, but with a rifle: a .30-30 capable of picking off a running inmate at several hundred yards.