In Memory of Corrections Officer V Chris Watson
On Wednesday, September 15, 2021, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice prepared once again to inform the public that their organization had lost a sworn officer to the COVID19 pandemic. Corrections Officer V Chris Watson, age 48, died as a result of complications of the virus. Watson had served his community as a law enforcement officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for more than 26 years.
Corrections Officer Watson likely contracted the virus while working at his recent assignment with the Hodge Correctional Facility. Law enforcement is an occupation with additional risk when it comes to acquiring the virus. Those in corrections have suffered even more extensively due to the inability to socially distance in institutional environments. As a result, the virus has swept repeatedly through prison facilities, then in extension, the communities surrounding these facilities.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has lost over 45 officers to COVID19 alone. COVID19 has quickly become the number one cause of line of duty deaths in the United States. In addition, hundreds of officers across the country have fallen victim to the virus.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
COVID19 has ravaged America’s prison systems, and Texas prisons are no exception. With Texas having more prisons and inmates than any other state in the nation, dealing with the outcome of this health crisis has not been easy.
Officer Chris Watson served in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) for over 26 years of his law enforcement career. The TDCJ is the primary law enforcement department of the US state of Texas. It is responsible for all criminal justice throughout the state. Its responsibilities include adult and juvenile offenders, managing offenders in state prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities. TDCJ is also responsible for the supervision of released offenders who are on parole.
The TDCJ employs over 37,000 Texas citizens to engage the offender population, supervise, and help in rehabilitation. The department has jurisdiction over the entire state of Texas, which includes the whole population of approximately 25 million residents.
Hodge Correctional Facility
More specifically, Watson served at the Hodge Correctional Facility in Ruskin, Texas. This prison is specifically for G1, G2, or those inmates who are mentally or developmentally disabled. The Hodge facility shares 150 acres of land with the Skyview Unit, another Texas correctional facility.
CHANGES is a program offered at the facility to enhance the inmate’s ability to adapt and succeed upon release. At Hodge, education, counseling, and vocational skills are taught to inmates.
Corrections Officer V Chris Watson leaves behind his wife and three children. Many children, over 130,000 in the US, have lost one or both parents or a primary caregiver to the disease. Community support will be needed for the Watson family and the many other individuals who have suffered significant losses. Honor guards will volunteer to work with the Watson family and residents to ensure that Watson receives the gratitude of all for the sacrifice made on their behalf.
TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier shared his sympathies with other employees and the Watson family. “Officer Watson served this agency for 26 years with honor. His commitment to the citizens of Texas will not be forgotten,” said TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier. “We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and co-workers on his passing.”
Hodge Unit Senior Warden Larry Berger shared insight into the man behind the badge. “He was a quiet individual, but when he spoke, he always had a message of uplifting thoughts or words of encouragement.”