Texas Air Conditions Pigs, Cooks Inmates

At least 14 Texas inmates have died due to heat exposure since 2007, according to a report first issued last year by the University of Texas School of Law Human Rights Clinic.

The conditions in the prisons have not changed since last year, at least at the Clemens Unit. But that it is a wider problem was confirmed by an April 3, 2015 story by the Huffington Post.

A former Clemens inmate has told us that the prison staff is required to report cell temperatures to the state. He explained that they take the temperatures at 2:00 in the morning, but when reported to the state, they show the readings were taken at 2:00 in the afternoon. So there’s no problem as far as TDCJ officially knows! (Whoops, a “paperwork” error = plausible deniability.) Who figured out this dodgy scam?

Last year’s report, “Deadly Heat in Texas Prisons,” found the conditions in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice prisons violate the inmate’s human rights. This report expanded on the Clinic’s previous work by adding inmate testimony as well as inmate grievances, and it established that pleas to the TDCJ have been largely ignored. TDCJ does not have a policy in place to control the temperature in the prisoners’ cells, but has been constructing a $750,000 climate-controlled building for swine meant for inmate consumption, the report stated. Click here for a copy of this year’s report, appropriately entitled “Reckless Indifference: Deadly Heat in Texas Prisons.”

The reports state TDCJ’s policy is in stark contrast to that of the Texas Commission of Jail Standards, which regulates and monitors temperatures and other factors pertaining to county jails’ living quarters.

Ariel Dulitzky, the director of the clinic, released a statement last year that said officials at TDCJ have known inmates are dying from extreme heat since 1998. Dulitzky also said it has been more than two years since the Texas Civil Rights Project brought a wrongful death lawsuit against TDCJ for the death of an inmate due to organ failure resulting from exposure to extreme heat.

The US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found extreme heat in prisons violate the Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The Human Rights Clinic intends to submit its findings to the relevant United Nations bodies and the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights.



Groove of the Day

Listen to Stacey Kent performing “Too Darn Hot”


Weather Report

106° and Clear


2 Responses to “priorities”

  1. 1 Daryl Watton
    August 9, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    If it’s true that long-term exposure to excessive heat, year-in, year-out, can cause health damage, then long-term prison sentences at institutions like Clemens are de-facto death sentences. Death by slow torture. I fear for David Childress who has been under-nourished since he was incarcerated at 14. Too many summers like these might do him in before parole board would deign to grant him release. I am sure there is a conspiracy to keep institutions from meeting minimum humane standards while continuing to report that they are. Politicians lie — but mainly because the bureaucracy behind them foment the most damnable lies in the first place.

  2. 2 Hat Bailey
    August 9, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    It is sad but true that it is often hard to get people to have much sympathy for the conditions under which “criminals” must live. It is the inability to put oneself in someone else’s shoes, and/or the desire to see someone suffer and be punished. I never had trouble relating to this cause as I knew given my unwillingness to back down from principle and the direction that society seems to be taking, it was likely I myself might one day be one of these people. In fact I have spent a total of around three weeks in a couple of jails so far in my life. The first was not unpleasant but for the overcrowding, the second was in the Brewster County jail and was the opposite of the above problem. Coming from a summer un-air-conditioned home near the border I was used to triple digit temps and was put into a holding cell that felt like it was around sixty five degrees, wearing no more than a thin T shirt. Repeated pleas for a blanket were ignored, nor bedding supplied (against policy) for a long duration in the small cold cell, and sleep deprivation hypothermia and disorientation was the result. Even after moving into the regular cell I was never really warm the whole time I was there. I spent a total of about a week there and this was as an un-convicted detainee, “innocent until proven guilty” of any offence. You may think it will never happen to you or someone you care about, but definitely stranger things have happened.

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