In Memory of Corrections Officer Rodrick Rodgers
22 Corrections Officers Lost in Texas
In 2020, Texas, which has more than 100 correctional facilities in the state, has been hit exceptionally hard by the COVID19 pandemic. Corrections Officer Rodrick Rodgers, age 45, died on Wednesday, November 11, 2020, due to complications from the virus. Rodgers was the 22nd corrections officer in the state of Texas to die from the pandemic.
Officer Rodgers served with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for over ten years. Rodgers was hospitalized with the coronavirus on November 4. He was placed in ICU at the hospital in Conroe, Texas. He died on the afternoon of November 11.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is the government agency responsible for statewide criminal justice in Texas. The TDCJ manages adult offenders in the state, private, and federal correctional facilities in the state. The department handles funding and management of community supervision. TDCJ also provides care of offenders on parole or other court-ordered supervision.
Texas, through the TDCJ, operates the most extensive prison system in the United States. The state has more than 100 correctional facilities. The TDCJ is a leading employer throughout Texas. It provides jobs to more than 37,000 Texans, many of whom are sworn, correctional officers.
Officer Rodrick Rodgers was last assigned to the Eastham Unit. The Eastham Unit is a men’s prison, located at the dead-end of Farm to Market Road. The facility consists of 12,789 acres. The nearest town is Lovelady, Texas.
The facility is known amongst the offenders as “the Ham.” It has been written extensively by Robert Perkinson, author of Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire. The book opened up the history of the Texas prison system and its shortcomings. In his book, the author did say that while there are many different types of facilities in Texas, “if any unit stands for the rest, it would be Eastham.”
Eastham initially opened in April 1917. It was the first maximum-security prison in the state. Before the American Civil War, the land on which the facility is located was cleared by slaves. Then the ground was worked by sharecroppers. Sharecropping gave way to a convict leasing program. This offer was the reason for choosing the location for the facility. A local businessman and farmer offered to pay $14.50 per month for each prisoner who worked the land for him. It has been a producer in the fields with vegetables grown and harvested by the prisoners throughout its history.
A loss to the Community and Family
One life lost to the coronavirus is one life too many. His family and community loved corrections Officer Rodrick Rodgers. After an escort procession, the community as a whole will come together to share the grief with his family. As they learn more about Rodgers, they will honor him and celebrate the life he lived.
Eastham Unit Senior Warden Donald Muniz talked of the moment he had met Officer Rodgers. “His first impression was so impactful; you knew exactly who he was, a genuinely loving man. It was uncanny how Mr. Rodgers understood grace and mercy. Professionally he was an example to follow.”
TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier spoke of the loss of a correctional employee. “There is no loss greater than the loss of a family member. That is exactly what the loss of Rodrick Rodgers is to us. TDCJ is a family, and any loss impacts every part of that family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Rodgers family, as Rodrick’s loving heart will never be forgotten.”