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Suit: Texas Heat Dangerous For Elderly Inmates

Updated: Wednesday, June 18 2014, 05:52 PM CDT

On Wednesday a federal lawsuit was filed against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to protect elderly and disabled prisoners from extreme summer temperatures.  

The lawsuit filed by Edwards Law, The Texas Civil Rights Project, and the University Of Texas School Of Law's Civil Rights Clinic states that TDCJ continues to expose sick, elderly, and disabled prisoners to dangerously hot temperatures at the Wallace Park unit in Navasota.

The TCRP says, "The pack does not air condition its housing area and takes no steps to otherwise lower indoor temperatures.  As a consequence, the prisoners at the Pack Unit suffer heat related illnesses and have their health put in danger every summer."  

In addition, the TCRP stated that inmates who suffer from various conditions, like COPD, diabetes, or hypertension, are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses.   Correctional officers themselves also suffer, reporting 55 health-related injuries throughout the TDCJ system in 2013, including at least one at the pack unit.

Attorney Jeff Edwards said that county facilities are required by law to be climate controlled, and if they weren't, Sheriffs would go to jail.  Edwards pointed out that for some reason the TDCJ operates under a different set of guidelines.  Prisoners at a Louisiana State Penitentiary won a similar lawsuit in December and a federal judge ordered the state to install air conditioning in the facility.

By Hunter Ellis

Suit: Texas Heat Dangerous For Elderly Inmates


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