I don’t know where you live, but I live in Las Vegas and it is hot here. It was 110 the other day. And, there is a heat wave across the country. Now imagine being stuck in a 6 X 9 prison cell in the southeast without air conditioning. Across the country there are 13 states that do not provide air conditioning and or heating throughout their prisons.
My son, who is out and doing extremely well now, was in solitary in Lewisburg, PA. There wasn’t any air conditioning in the summer nor was there any heat in the winter. I would get letters from him with sweat stains from perspiration dropping on the paper. In the winter, he slept in his sweats with two blankets and was still freezing every night.
Fortunately, he was healthy and survived, but what about all those ageing or sick inmates who are susceptible to heat stroke and other heat related problems such as heart attack, stroke or kidney failure. They don’t have fans or refrigerators with access to ice or any other method to cool down. They are stuck.
For those of you who have loved ones incarcerated in a prison without air conditioning, write to your state or federal representatives. Air conditioning should not be a privilege, but a human right.
Here’s an excerpt from the Houston Press June 2017 by Meagan Flynn:
Larry McCollum, 58, lasted just one week in prison before suffering a fatal heatstroke on his bed in the middle of the night.
He arrived at the Hutchins Unit on July 15, 2011, amid one of Texas’s hottest summers on record, and was to serve 11 months for the crime of writing a hot check. Temperatures in the un-air-conditioned prison were between 109 and 111 degrees, with a heat index of roughly 150 degrees for at least four hours in a row on July 19. Even though prisoners are supposed to receive regular refills of ice water during extreme heat, McCollum did not yet own a cup because he didn’t have access to the prison commissary for at least 30 days. There were two industrial fans to cool off the 58 men he lived with, and none of the inmates had personal fans because there were no electrical outlets.
Listed below are statistics from Prison Policy Initiative regarding some of our states which lack air conditioning:
Alabama: Prisons in Alabama do not have air conditioning.
Arizona: Many prisons in Arizona lack air conditioning.
Arkansas: Prisons have had air conditioning since the 1970s.
Florida: State run prisons do not have air conditioning, but private prisons in the state do have air conditioning.
Georgia: Most prisons have air conditioning, but some do not.
Kansas: Most prisons do not have air conditioning. 70 percent of incarcerated people are in buildings without air conditioning.
Kentucky: Most prisons do not have air conditioning.
Louisiana: Most prisons do not have air conditioning.
Mississippi: Most inmate housing in Mississippi has no air conditioning.
Missouri: Some prisons lack universal air conditioning.
North Carolina: Most prisons have air conditioning, but 10 facilities do not.
South Carolina: Most prisons have air conditioning, but some facilities do not.
Texas: Only 30 of the 109 state prisons in Texas have air conditioning in all housing areas. (This is despite the fact county jails in the state are statutorily required keep their temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees).
Virginia: Half of prisons have no air conditioning.