Some prisons in Texas, without air-conditioning, have reached 100 degrees Farenheit as the summer heat wave continues. Now, many inmates are afraid of dying or becoming very sick. They feel that officials aren’t taking the matter seriously.
The Texas prison system informed lawmakers that there are poor working conditions. This is due to no air-conditioning, a major reason why 7,000 prison jobs haven’t been filled.
Only 30% of Texas prison units are air-conditioned. Advocates and others have spoken out about the lack of air-conditioning in units that hold 120,000 inmates in total.
Only about 13 states are operating without universal air-conditioning in state prisons, and Texas is one of them.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has implemented heat mitigation guidelines, such as giving water and ice and creating areas where inmates can cool down. They also let inmates buy fans and towels.
However, a review of the measures show that they are “inefficient and ineffective.” This is because there is no system-wide relief. Instead, it causes prison workers to assist inmates individually as they have to endure the heat themselves.
Six inmates and 11 workers have been treated for heat-related sicknesses, so far this year. No heat-related deaths have occurred in Texas prisons since 2012.
On Tuesday, lawmakers learned that it would cost nearly $1.1 billion to put air-conditioning in every state’s prison unit.
A bill that would have made it mandatory for TDJC to put in air-conditioning didn’t pass in last year’s legislative session.