Texas inmates file lawsuit over ‘dangerous living conditions’ in state prison
DALLAS (CNN) – Prisoners in Texas have filed a lawsuit over conditions inside the state’s prison.
The group claims at least 12 prisoners have died in the past three years from these high temperatures.
The Texas Civil Rights Project and the University of Texas School of Law Civil Rights clinic filed the suit on behalf of the prisoners.
They claim the lawsuit is not seeking monetary damages but rather cooler temperatures for the prisoners.
Although multiple facilities are named, the lawsuit primarily focuses on one prison in Navasota, Texas, known as Wallace Pack Unit.
According to records, there are 114 men over the age of 70 that have no air conditioning and the windows provide very little relief.
Experts say temperatures inside the building often exceed temperatures outside.
“Stainless steel tables in the inmate dormitories become hot to the touch, and prisoners have to lay towels down on the table to rest their elbows while sitting,” the complaint reads.
Along with older prisoners, there are inmates that suffer from underlying medical conditions that make them susceptible for heat stroke.
“I don’t know if I will make it this summer. The heat and humidity are so bad inside I have trouble breathing,” said one of the plaintiffs.
There are some areas of the prison that have air conditioning but inmates are not allowed to visit the spots on a daily basis.
Jason Clark, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, told CNN he was unable to comment on pending legislation.
However, he did explain what the agency does to “mitigate temperature extremes.”
Clark says the agency provides water and allows for additional showers “when feasible.”
Clark also said the staff is trained to identify “offenders susceptible to heat-related issues.”
According to the complaint, staff may also have to identify heat-related issues for one another because they have to go into the hot rooms of the prison too.
The complaint says, “The correctional officer’s union had made numerous public requests for the prison housing areas to be air conditioned.”
Clark said the department doesn’t have the money to make changes, conceding “a detailed cost analysis has not been done.”