In Memory of Corrections Officer IV Ruben Martinez
Texas Corrections Hit Hard by Pandemic
On Sunday, July 26, 2020, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced another corrections officer’s loss to the pandemic. Texas corrections have been hit hard by the coronavirus; both inmates and staff have significantly suffered; many have died. Corrections Officer IV Ruben Martinez, age 48, died from complications associated with the virus. It is presumed that he contracted it through his work at the Lopez State Jail. Martinez has served his community through his work with the TDCJ for over two years.
Martinez died while receiving treatment in the COVID wing created at Edinburg Children’s Hospital. He had felt unwell and tested positive for the virus on June 13. He was admitted to the hospital for extensive treatment on June 19. The virus has been rampant throughout the Texas prison system. At this point, more than 3,100 TDCJ employees and 15,200 inmates have tested positive for COVID19. Sadly, more than a dozen employees, and over 100 inmates have died from complications.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is the government agency responsible for managing statewide criminal justice for all adult offenders in Texas. Officer Martinez had spent the last two years of his life working for the TDCJ as a corrections officer. The TDCJ also operates state prisons, state jails, and private correctional facilities throughout the state. The department also handles community supervision, parole, and other forms of mandatory management.
The TDCJ is one of the largest employers in the state, with over 37,000 employees. The department is headquartered in Huntsville, Texas, and operates on a yearly budget of over 3.5 billion dollars. The prison system in Texas began as a single institution in 1848. Today it encompasses the state and has more than 100 facilities. These institutions provide inmates with educational programs, healthcare, employment, counseling, and other curricula to improve their lives upon returning to society.
Lopez State Jail
Officer Martinez’s last assignment was at the Lopez State Jail. This facility is located on 300 acres outside of Edinburg, Texas. The facility holds 1100 male inmates that range from minimum to maximum security. The facility shares the grounds with the Segovia Unit. Both units provide agricultural work and training. Inmates can also participate in working with security dogs and horses. Education and counseling opportunities are also offered.
Children Left Without a Father
Many families have been left broken due to COVID19. The future of tomorrow leaves many children facing the world missing one, or even both parents lost to the virus. Corrections Officer Ruben Martinez leaves behind three children. These children will learn to navigate life without their guiding light, their father. Extended family, friends, and coworkers will help them find their path and share their grief going forward.
TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier commented on the courage of officers like Martinez. “One of the core values of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is courage. That is what Officer Martinez showed all of us. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Texas Department of Criminal Justice are with Officer Martinez family and friends.”
Senior Warden Juan Garcia spoke of the positivity that Martinez showed in his work. “Officer Martínez provided an unwavering service to the López State Jail. Officer Martínez was a family man and always having a positive attitude; he was always there to lend a fellow coworker a hand. Officer Martínez is greatly missed.”