ALLAS — Everybody called Theodore Crews by his nickname, “Cigo.”
Kambri Crews called him dad. She’d never call him perfect. “My dad deserved his jail time. He was a violent offender. But, he’d done his time,” she said.
Crews was in prison for an aggravated assault in Bedford. He’d served about 18 years of his 20-year sentence when the coronavirus pandemic first appeared in the Texas prison system.
“He promised me that he wouldn’t even go to shower, that he would just take a what he called a bird bath in his cell to avoid going into the communal showers,” Kambri said.
“I was like, great. Smell, do whatever you need to do. Just stay away from everybody. You’re almost home and when you get home, you’ll take the longest shower of your life. Don’t put yourself at risk. But it didn’t matter.”
Kambri was excited for her father’s imminent release on parole when she learned he was terminally ill.
A spokesman for the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles says a panel voted to grant Crews parole on June 11.
The original parole date was set for November, but members of the board reconsidered the case on July 6 and ruled Crews was eligible for immediate release, according to the spokesman.
But immediate release doesn’t mean hours, or even days.
In early July, Crews was diagnosed with lung cancer and moved to a prison hospital and eventually into hospice.
He died July 10, before he could be released.
The parole board spokesman said the state has not changed the manner in which parole decisions are rendered during the coronavirus pandemic, which Kambri questions.
“He’s at the end of his sentence. He’s 73. He has no teeth. He’s deaf and he weighs 150 pounds,” Kambri said. “Send him home!”
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, as of mid-July, more than 12,000 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 and 94 have died.
At least 10 TDCJ employees have died from the virus. About 2,300 employees have tested positive.
Kambri does not believe her father died of COVID, but she has requested his medical records from TDCJ.