Having experienced Texas summers, I know the severity of the heat that can encompass the state. Well, the heat is so sweltering that it violates international human rights standards and has caused the deaths of 14 inmates since 2007. According to the Austin-based Human Rights Clinic of the University School of Law that, “the extreme temperatures in state-run facilities also breach the US constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishments”.
Inside these Texas prisons, there are about 150,000 people who have to survive the heat. Most of these prisons do not have air conditioning, only the psychiatric and geriatric buildings do. As of recent, it is mandatory to install air conditioning in cells to keep temperatures below 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Until these standards are put into action, officials are screening and monitoring suffering prisoners and providing them with cool liquids and ice.
“We are convinced that Texas is breaking international human rights laws and US constitutional law,” he said. “We believe it’s a lack of political will from the authorities at the TDCJ, they refuse to acknowledge there’s a problem … There’s a belief that everybody suffers extreme heat in Texas and that is true. The difference is that I can be in my office and have air conditioning.”
In essence, I think that the state of Texas should take necessary precautions in order to prevent inmates from suffering heat related illness or even death in extreme temperatures. Everyone should have a right to something of this degree.