At least 41 people have died in Texas prisons due to heart-related issues or mysterious causes, according to a report by the Texas Tribune. Relatives of the deceased have said that the cause of death is extreme heat due to the uncooled prisons.
A significant number of those who passed away were young individuals in their 20s and 30s, with some as young as 35 experiencing cardiac arrests or heart failures.
Democrats on the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Accountability have urged Chairman James Comer to launch an investigation into the dire prison conditions exacerbated by the extreme heat in Texas.
More than two-thirds of Texas’ 100 prisons lack adequate air conditioning in living areas, leading to excruciating conditions for both inmates and staff. The internal temperatures often surpass the outdoor heat, creating an environment conducive to health risks.
Since June, a dozen prisoners have succumbed to cardiac arrest or heart failure on days when heat indices exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with an additional 29 deaths awaiting autopsy results for unknown causes.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has said that no one has died because of the heat in prisons since 2012. Critics argue that TDCJ’s reports on heat-related illnesses are unreliable, highlighting disparities between the number of reported cases among prisoners and staff.
The grim situation has prompted the call for air conditioning funding within Texas prisons, especially given the state’s surplus in the budget this year. Democrats emphasize that prisoners should not endure needless suffering due to a lack of adequate cooling measures.