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Lack of Air Conditioning Causes Texas Inmates to Sue

Some cities located in Texas can actually reach temperatures even higher than in Las Vegas.Because of this, Texas residents not only want, but need air conditioning in the summer. Recently, a federal lawsuit has been filed because of the lack of air conditioning in a jail facility. The prisoners claimed that when temperatures soar well over 100 degrees, they suffer from heat exhaustion. Allegedly, 12 prisoners have died due to the excess heat over the last three years.

Air Conditioning for Prisoners

The lawsuit wasn’t filed by prisoners, but instead by the Texas Civil Rights Project and the University of Texas School of Law Civil Rights. They aren’t seeking monetary damages, but simply cooler temperatures for the prisoners behind bars.

The lawsuit concerns facilities throughout the state, but focuses mainly on a facility in Navasota, Texas called Wallace Pack Unit. It’s located just outside of Houston and holds about 1,400 men. About ten percent of prisoners are over the age of 70. With no air conditioning and no windows to provide even a little relief, temperatures tend to skyrocket. To make matters worse, the prison has stainless steel tables, which become unbearable to sit on.

Not only are there older prisoners, but there are also a number of men with medical conditions that make them more susceptible to heat strokes. A 69-year-old inmate told CNN that he doesn’t think he’ll survive this summer. Between the high temperatures and humidity, he has trouble breathing properly.

Excessive Heat Deaths

The lawsuit lists 20 deaths since 1998, that were allegedly caused from the excess heat. There were multiple cases where a prisoner’s internal temperature was well over 100 degrees. A 45-year-old man died just one day after arriving to the prison, with a temperature at the time of death reaching 109.9 degrees.

There are parts of the facility that have working air conditioning, including the visiting center, warden’s office and other administrative buildings. However, prisoners suffer most of the time because there is no air conditioning in their cells.

County prisons in Texas are more fortunate. A law mandates that county jails have to be kept between 65 and 85 degrees. The policy determined that 85 degrees is the maximum temperature because it ensures “pig comfort.” Unfortunately, the state doesn’t require any set temperature, so inmates are essentially being treated worse than pigs.

The staff in state prisons are not immune to the heat either. Because the guards have to go in and out of these rooms, many have identified with these heat-related issues. The correctional officer’s union has made multiple complaints about the air conditioning issue. One female guard was hospitalized from heat exhaustion and dehydration.

A spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice explained that the prison doesn’t have money to make the changes. In an attempt to gain support, he informed the public that the prisoners are provided with water and additional showers “when feasible.”

If you are experiencing problems with your home’s air conditioning unit, take action. Call an expert at JMAC Plumbing & Air Conditioning so you won’t have to suffer the heat. For more information about air conditioning services in Las Vegas, contact 702.227.5622.

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