Nation Inside is hearing reports from prisoners and families across the country about abusive heat conditions. It’s an issue of life and death as summer rolls in and climate disruption brings triple digit temperatures. 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. What’s more, 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.
“Last summer my husband spent two months suffering from heat exhaustion, dizzy spells, passing out, racing heart, and nausea. This cannot be the way we treat human beings.” – Kimberly, Texas
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 hottest states show the most acute peril. Between 2012 and 2014, 14 prisoners perished from heat exposure in Texas. But heat-related prison deaths can 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 occupied 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.
Policy Papers and Documents
D.C. Prisoners: Conditions of Confinement in the District of Columbia