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Texas Legislature Fails To Address Overheated State Prisons

The Texas legislature let bills that would have addressed extreme heat in Texas prisons die in the last legislative session even though the bills had diverse and bipartisan support, reports Courthouse News Service. There are no rules regulating extreme heat in Texas prisons, where temperatures in units without air-conditioning regularly climb over 100 degrees in the summer. Texas officials claim there have been no heat-related deaths in Texas prisons for more than a decade, but many prisoners say they've been denied aid in the heat and believe prison officials would cover up their death if heat killed them, a report found last year.

Advocates, including prison guards, say addressing extreme heat would save expenses from lawsuits and medical emergencies and would reduce staff turnover and violence. This year, at least four bills in the Texas House took aim at extreme heat in Texas prisons. When the legislative session ended last month, every bill addressing prison heat was dead. Other prison reform efforts included directly funding prison air-conditioning, reining in the use of solitary confinement and creating early release guidelines for terminally ill prisoners. Terry Canales, a Democratic lawmaker, said, "we don't even allow people to treat dogs like this."


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