Target: Dale Wainwright, Chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice
Goal: Force federal prisons to provide relief from extreme heat to prevent unnecessary death.
At least 20 inmates have died from being overheated in a federal prison near Austin, and now their peers are filing a lawsuit to demand more humane conditions. This summer, they saw more than two dozen days with triple digit temperatures, many happening right in a row. When it is hot outside, the insides of these prisons become even hotter, sometimes reaching over 120 degrees.
The Wallace Pack Unit, where the inmates filing the lawsuit are kept, is a medical prison where older, sicker residents are housed. The heat is especially harmful to these residents as many of them suffer from heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Keeping them in these conditions is inhumane and un-American.
Five years ago, ten prisoners at Wallace Unit Pack died from hyperthermia in one summer, though inmates report that many heat-related deaths are recorded as heart attacks, so the number overall could be much greater. Last year, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals saw a similar case in Louisiana and agreed that housing inmates who are not well in such inhumane conditions is unconstitutional. It is inhumane for the security guards as well as they are completely covered and weighted down with vests for protection during all portions of the day.
Earlier this summer, this unit was outfitted with a new water filtration system after courts ruled that the inmates were being given water with twice the amount of arsenic allowed by the EPA. It is obvious that conditions at this prison are inhumane, and this lawsuit is just another chip into making it better. Support these inmates and sign the petition asking the Texas Board of Criminal Justice to rule in their favor and save them from severe heat.
Dear Chairman Wainwright,
Inhumane conditions at the Wallace Pack Unit have been brought to your attention, and while the water filtration system was ordered to be fixed, nothing has been done about the extreme heat conditions these residents are made to suffer. Over 20 inmates have reportedly died from heatstroke since 1998, and as summers continue to get warmer, the elderly and sick residents at the Wallace Pack Unit need to be kept in cooler facilities.
Supplying cooled air in federal prisons is about providing an environment that is not dangerous to an inmate’s health. Overheated prisons cause more inmate fighting and they cause security guards to suffer too as they are covered and weighted down with safety vests. End this torture and make our federal prisons more humane for sick and elderly inmates.
[You Name Here]
Photo credit: Larry D. Moore