Sweltering weather can make anyone miserable. Not being able to escape it is cruel — and Texas inmates deserve better.
At Houston’s Pack Unit, many disabled, elderly and heat-sensitive inmates have had to make do without air conditioning.
Not anymore, federal judge Keith Ellison ruled.
“To deny modern technology to inmates today for the simple reason that it was not available to inmates in past generations is an argument that proves too much,” Ellison wrote in his scathing response this week.
At least 20 inmates have died of heat-related deaths statewide since 1998. And though none were at the Pack Unit, a lawsuit in 2014 was filed on behalf of six inmates incarcerated there.
This Houston prison houses mainly geriatric inmates and prisoners with medical needs. Having to fight the heat shouldn’t be part of their punishment.
The judge didn’t require installing air conditioning units at the prison, but state officials have to ensure cooled living units and access to cooled dormitories.
Texas has made reforms, like the Sandra Bland Act, to ensure better treatment of the accused and convicted, but without protection from the Texas heat, we have a long way to go.