Monday, July 24, 2017

Rising temperatures can kill Texas prisoners. Corrections ignored that, says federal judge

BY Kamala Kelkar July 22, 2017 at 5:06 PM EDT

A federal judge in Houston ordered a geriatric prison in Texas to help inmates overcome extreme heat and rising summer temperatures, referencing climate change in a groundbreaking ruling this week.

U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison deemed it cruel and unusual that state corrections are aware of dangerous and lethal heat risks — at least 23 men in Texas prisons have died from the heat in the last 20 years — yet have failed to impose safeguards.

Ellison slammed the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for continuously violating the Eighth Amendment by subjecting inmates at the Wallace Pack Unit south of Navasota to heat indexes that regularly exceed 100 degrees in summer.


About one year ago, the court ordered corrections to provide safe drinking water for inmates at the Pack unit after tests revealed arsenic in the water at two-to-four times the standard level permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


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