Heat In Texas Prisons Is A Risk For Inmates And Prison Staff

Temperatures in Texas prisons that have no cooling systems regularly rise above 115F, but there are records that temperatures can rise as high as 149F. The heat affects the inmates and could cause deaths in the prisons.

According to a report by The Guardian, prisoners in Texas often complain about the extreme heat, and the lack of medical aid when prisoners suffer from heat strokes.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) has claimed that there has not been a heat death since 2012, but research by Brown University conducted last year concluded that 13% -about 271- of deaths between 2001 and 2019 might be due to extreme heat. Also, the Texas Tribune reported that at least nine inmates had died since June in uncooled prisons.

The extreme heat also affects the staff. Jeff Ormsby, executive director of the Texas correctional officer’s union, said that many officers quit in summer months and return when the prisons are cooler.

“I would say the heat has more effect on staff than on inmates,” said Ormsby. 

There have been efforts to impose more human conditions. This year the Texas House passed a bill to invest more than half a billion dollars in air conditioning, but the senate opposed the idea.

Carl Sherman, a Democratic state representative has supported the bill and more human conditions for inmates. “It is true that prisons should not be the Hilton or the Marriott hotel,” he said. “But they should be humane. When inmates are begging and pleading for their lives in the searing heat, that is a problem.”

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