When, after WW2, I came to live in Galveston at the house my parents lived in, there was no air conditioning for the summer’s sweltering heat. They did have a crude (by today’s standards) evaporative cooler set up outside a living room window. That cooler only offered some partial relief from the heat, and only in the living room. When in bed, I just had to sweat out Galveston’s humidified heat.
In those days everyone in Texas had to put up with the stifling heat. The stinking Galveston County jail was not air conditioned. And cars were not air conditioned either. But we all managed to live with the heat. How times have changed.
Texas prisons are not air conditioned. The state has been subjected to several lawsuits because some inmates have died from heat-related illnesses. U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison has called Texas prisons “the closest place on Earth to Hell.”
Disregarding the lawsuits, do you think that Texas prisons should be air conditioned?
I suspect your answer will be ‘Yes’, but not so fast there, partner.
Texas prison inmates are not serving time because they sang off-key in the church choir. They are not serving time for being black. And they are not serving time for using drugs. You could even say they are not serving time for being murderers and rapists.
Prisoners are serving time as punishment for breaking the law. As such they should not be entitled to the comforts of home!
The inmates are not the only ones subjected to the heat. Prison officials have to work in the same hot conditions. The correctional officers’ union has also called for air conditioning their workplace.
Talk about hot prisons … I once picked up an inmate at the Arizona state prison near Florence. The fortress-like prison sat in the middle of the desert, miles from the nearest community. When I was there the outside temperature was over 110 degrees. The place was not air conditioned. Man was it hot. The only saving grace was that the desert heat has a very low humidity. I suspect they also had some heat-related deaths among the inmate population.
As my partner and I were driving the inmate back to Riverside, California to face hot check charges, he complained about the lousy food they served in prison and the hard work he was subjected to. But he never complained about the heat.
It would cost a ton of money to air condition Texas prisons. I do not think the taxpayers should be burdened with the high cost of making people comfortable who are being punished for breaking the law. I would however, air condition all the medical facilities of the prisons, but only the medical facilities and no other parts of the prisons.
We should not turn Texas prisons into penal institutions like a Fed Club Med. If Texas prisons are the closest place on Earth to Hell, well that’s just tough shit punishment.