COVID19 Kills Texas Corrections Officer
Texas authorities are burdened with the announcements of Covid19 impacting the lives of their officers and correctional facilities. On Wednesday, August 26, 2020, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) announced the loss of yet another corrections officer who has succumbed to the deadly virus. Corrections Officer IV James Weston Jr., age 55, was a 13-year veteran with the department and had tested positive for the virus on August 20. He was undergoing self-quarantine when he was discovered dead in his home on Wednesday, just six days after his positive test results.
It is believed that Weston contracted the virus during an outbreak that was occurring in the Johnston Unit, where he was currently assigned. His last day on the job was August 14th, when he started to feel under the weather. When his symptoms did not improve, he went in for testing for the coronavirus.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Officer James Weston served his career with law enforcement with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The TDCJ is responsible for the statewide management of criminal justice for all adult offenders in the state of Texas. This responsibility includes the management of state jails, prisons, private prisons and facilities, and even for parole and oversight of community supervision.
Texas has more prisons than any other state in the U.S. With more than 120 facilities in the state, it is also one of Texas's largest employers. During this pandemic, the coronavirus has hit many Texas communities surrounding the prisons extremely hard. Workers have fallen ill to the virus that has spread so rapidly among the facilities and inmates. The virus is then distributed among the local communities as the workers unwittingly take it home to their family members.
The last assignment for Officer James Weston was in the Johnston Unit. Also known as the Clyde M. Johnston Unit, it is a substance abuse felony punishment facility located in Winnsboro, Texas. The maximum number of inmates that the facility can hold is 612 male substance abusers at any one time. All abusers receive treatment for substance abuse and counseling. There are also educational and vocational opportunities to provide a better lifestyle for inmates upon their facility release.
Texas Mourns Many, Family Suffers Loss
Two sons survive corrections Officer IV James Weston Jr. His extended family, neighbors, friends, and fellow coworkers share in their grief. Weston was a valued member of the community who gave back to others at every opportunity. Texas's entire state is grappling with the loss of so many within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and other law enforcement officers who are losing their lives to this deadly virus.
TDCJ Director Bryan Collier gave a brief statement and his condolences to the family of Officer Weston. “The thoughts and prayers of the TDCJ family are with the loved ones of Officer Weston. He was a dedicated public servant who went above and beyond. Officer Weston will be greatly missed.”
Senior Warden Virgil McMullen spoke highly of Officer Weston. He recalled how he was a well-respected employee and had a great love for others. Weston was known as a valued officer who loved his job. “James Weston loved his job, and he was a vital part of the Johnston family. Weston was an expert marksman, known for his professionalism and love for horses. He will not be forgotten.”
TDCJ reports that as of the passing of officer Weston, 21 Texas corrections officers have passed away due to coronavirus, and 135 inmates have also died as a result of the virus.