When men and women are sentenced to prison, they know that their new life won’t be one of comfort. But at the same time, prisoners shouldn’t be subject to gross discomfort of a life of intense suffering. According to the New York Times, Texas state prisoners are often wilting in the intense heat of the buildings, which don’t have air conditioning to evade the scorching summer temperatures. Only 21 of Texas’ 111 prisons are fully air-conditioned. Some of the detention centers have air conditioning in the room used for medical services of educational services, but not in the rooms where the inmates actually live.
The inmates and their families have been complaining about this issue for years. However, the problem has finally reached a new level of urgency this month, and an appeal is pending in a lawsuit that was initially filed in 2008 by a former inmate. The inmate claims that 54 prisoners were exposed to intense conditions in a South Texas prison, at one point having to survive 126 degree heat for 10 days without any air conditioning.
Some of the prisoners died in the conditions. Now, the inmates are standing up and claiming that the hot prisons are a form of cruel and unusual punishment. They claim that the constitution doesn’t require comfortable prisons but it does require safe and humane ones. The inmates and their lawyers are raising awareness about the inadequate fans, water, and ventilation in the cells, and hope that they will be able to advocate for air conditioning that will better the quality of life of the prisoners inside.
While guards at the jail say that they make an effort to protect residents from extreme, life-threatening heat, four men died last summer from heat stroke in their cells. Talk to someone today if you are facing a crime that could send you to these hot and miserable prisons. As criminal defense lawyers, we are here to fight for your innocence and justice.