The Texas Prison System has a reputation for being particularly tough on inmates of all stripes. It doesn’t matter if you’re a violent felon or not. It’s not a place you want to be. And many Texans might be surprised to learn almost three-in-four prison units (over 72 percent) have no access to air conditioning.
This fact came to light in a recent report from the Houston Chronicle. HC’s Keri Blakinger reports that “just 29 Texas prisons provide air-conditioned living units, while another 75 facilities do not have it.”
Texas Prison System Looks at Change
According to the report, the Texas Prison System is now looking at addressing this issue in the aftermath of an inmate’s death due to heat exhaustion. Additionally, “at least 19 inmates and staff were treated for heat-related illnesses in the past month.”
The story highlights just how important air conditioning has become to our daily lives. Population and industrial growth over the last 150 years have quite clearly resulted in rising temperatures. With the problem likely to get worse, the dangers of it are likely to as well.
Here are just a few of the issues no AC can expose you to.
In the case of the Texas Prison System, there are a number of life-threatening conditions that can arise.
- Heat exhaustion: this already has claimed the life of an East Texas inmate being housed at the Hodge Unit in Rusk. The unit takes care of “geriatric and medically fragile” inmates. The resulting AC fix is expected to be a $2 million job, but it could prevent more deaths at a facility that is home to 600.
- Dehydration: considering the average daily temp in the state of Texas is greater than 90 degrees from June-August, not having access to AC for inmates means the rapid loss of electrolytes. Without replenishment, this can lead to faster dehydration, another potentially deadly situation.
- The growth of infectious diseases: Bacteria and viruses love the heat, and being able to proliferate inside of an enclosed area such as a home or, in this case, prison unit, can cause infections to spread rapidly. If there is an elderly or medically vulnerable person or a child living in those closed-off quarters, it can prove lethal.
The Lesson Is Clear
It may be hard for some of you to sympathize with prisoners for not having AC. This especially is true if you’re the family member of a victim or you’ve been the victim of a crime. But regardless of your feelings toward those in the Texas Prison System, the takeaway from this story is important.
Air conditioning is no longer an amenity. It can be a matter of life and death. If you know of any vulnerable person who is without AC and you’d like to remedy the situation, give us a call or reach out online. We respond rapidly and are eager to help.