The union that represents Texas’ correctional officers will join the lawsuits filed over the heat related deaths of at least 14 inmates in the scorching state prisons. The union has joined with the inmates demand that the Texas state prisons should be cooled to relieve unbearable conditions.
Lance Lowry, president of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, said the union intends to join pending litigation requesting intervention over temperatures inside prisons that purportedly reach 130 degrees on some summer days, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman.
Lowry stated, “These conditions are dangerous to both the employees and the inmates.” The union president stressed the unusual circumstances that brought inmates and correction officers together on the same side. Temperatures between 100 and 115 degrees during summertime are dangerous and potentially deadly for officers and inmates taking heat-sensitive medication or those who have hypertension.
The cost of air-conditioning units has been estimated at more than $55 million. Texas prison officials have argued that the prisons do not require air conditioning units despite the numerous inmate’s deaths. At the same time, the Texas prison system paid this summer $750,000 for six climate-controlled barns for use in its pig farming program. The Texas rescue of the pigs was detailed in our article, “Heat Can be a Death Sentence for Inmates – Update No.3.”
We can only hope this unlikely alliance will succeed in court. If not, Texas pigs will fare much better than the inmates and correctional officers in the Texas state prisons.