Man's Inhumanity to Man

Tales from death row: Justice for Rodney Reed

By: Caitlin Adams

Wars, genocide, ethnic cleansing, holocausts, inquisitions, crusades, pogroms, mass incarceration—man’s inhumanity to man seems hell bent on the annihilation of the species.  At times though, I'm completely done in by the everyday inhumanities—the myriad ways we are cruel, unkind to one another when it would have been just as easy to be caring, kind.

On June 18th, Rodney passed out in the rec yard during his hour of outside recreation.  A sergeant came over and was able to rouse him; he was then escorted back to his cell.  Rodney takes medication for high blood pressure and after passing out, he experienced some chest pain, numbness to his left arm, radiating pain to his back and a headache.  All of these symptoms were possible indicators of a life- threatening cardiac event.

Eventually, a nurse, who was on her rounds, stopped by Rodney's cell.  She asked him through the closed cell door, "Are you OK?"  Rodney asked if she was going to check his blood pressure.  She responded, "I don't have my cuff." Rodney was told that, no, she wasn't going to go get her cuff because she was doing other things, and he'd be fine; if he wasn't he needed to ask for medical.  At which point she left.

A little while later, Rodney still wasn't feeling well.  He waited to see if a Correctional Officer (C.O.) would make rounds. No one did. Then another prisoner was brought to the day room for his rec time.  Rodney got his attention and asked him to get the attention of the C.O. who was in the "pick" (which is similar to a nurse's station in a hospital).  The prisoner got her attention and told her that Rodney needed "rank or medical" to come to his cell.  Rodney waited again.  No response.  Rodney again asked the prisoner to try again; the prisoner, for the second time told the C.O. what Rodney had requested.  Again, no response.

Later still, another C.O. was beginning to deliver dinner trays.  Rodney decided to wait until he was on his pod and ask him for help.  When the C.O. was within eyesight and hearing distance, Rodney got his attention and waved him over to his cell.  As the C.O. was heading toward Rodney's cell, the officer in the "pick" started to clang the mechanism for opening the pod doors. When the C.O. looked towards her she motioned him to the "pick".

He never returned to speak to Rodney and he never delivered a dinner tray to Rodney.

After shift change, a sergeant came around the pod. Rodney got her attention, and she came and spoke with him.  He recounted all the details of what had transpired.  She said she would check into it and get back to him.

When she returned, she told Rodney that everyone had orders from the lieutenant to not open his slot (this is where food trays and mail are passed to prisoners) because he had "threatened to jack the slot".  Jacking the slot is putting your arm through the slot; it is considered an act of aggression.  Rodney never spoke to the "pick" C.O. who had reported him to the lieutenant. And the other prisoner who had attempted to help Rodney never made any threat or was disrespectful in any manner.

Rodney was also denied a shower that day.

No medical treatment, no food (which is a direct violation of Texas Penal Code 3904), no shower—Why? I have asked myself at least a 100 times since then. The only answer I could come up with is because she could.  She could be inhumane and cruel, with no consequences, no repercussions.

These kinds of "inhumanities" leave me bereft and speechless.

Since then, Rodney is feeling better and has only had some dizziness when changing positions.

Some very kind folks, out here in the free world, raised a bit of a ruckus (thank you!), as did his mom and I.  I only wish that this was an isolated incident; sadly, it was not.  These inhumanities happen every day throughout TDCJ.

As of this writing, in the “land of the free" Rodney’s injustice time is 5,580 days, 133,914 hours. Free Rodney Reed!

"It is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps justice alive."  ~ Earl Warren



Caitlin Adams is a resident of Bastrop, Texas.  After meeting the family of Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed outside of their home in early 2011, she began writing with Rodney.  She has developed a friendship with Rodney's mother Sandra and his family in Bastrop, as well as making regular trips to death row to visit Rodney. 

After learning about the facts of Rodney's case, Caitlin has become an advocate for Rodney Reed – here we present Caitlin's story about her journey for justice.