Nation Inside is hearing reports from prisoners and families across the country regarding abusive heat conditions, an issue of life and death as summer rolls in and climate disruption brings triple digit temperatures. Let’s protect those inside by putting the pressure on prison officials to fix oppressive heat conditions.
Hundreds of prisons, jails, and detention centers are already sweltering. Where facilities fail to take appropriate measures to cool inmates, there will be illness, needless suffering and death. Exposing those inside our nation’s prisons to lethal temperatures is wrong. It’s unconstitutional —amounting to a form of cruel and unusual punishment—and a violation of basic human rights. Help those inside by joining the national “Stop the Heat” campaign.
Far too often, non-air-conditioned cells are also overcrowded, putting lives in jeopardy.According to a Columbia University report, members of the prison population have a number of risk factors “including advanced age, poor mental and physical health, and the use of medications,” that make them especially vulnerable to hyperthermia and other heat related conditions. The 300 women held in Montgomery Women’s Facility in Alabama, are housed in an uninsulated tin shed, in which the doors are kept closed and they have only several fans circulating the hot air within. Summertime in the South is hot, with the average temperature being in the high 90’s with high humidity.
The hottest states show the most acute thermic peril. Between 2012 and 2014, 14 prisoners perished from heat exposure in Texas. But heat-related prison deaths are liable to occur anywhere. In 2014, homeless veteran Jerome Murdough was found dead in a Rikers Island cell in New York. The temperature in the mental health unit Murdough had been placed in had exceeded 100 degrees.
History and momentum are on our side. The Stop the Heat campaign will mobilize a national network of concerned citizens against prison heat abuse. Join the campaign today. #STOPTHEHEAT