Report: Inmates dying from heat exposure in Texas prisons

File Photo (AP Photo/Federal Bureau of Prisons)
File Photo (AP Photo/Federal Bureau of Prisons)

AUSTIN (KXAN) –At least 14 Texas inmates have died due to heat exposure, according to a report by the University of Texas School of Law Human Rights Clinic.

The new report, “Deadly Heat in Texas Prisons,” found the conditions in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice prisons violate the inmate’s human rights. TDCJ does not have a policy in place to control the temperature in a prisoner’s cell, but is in the middle of constructing a $750,000 climate-controlled building for swine meant for inmate consumption, the report stated.

The report states the TDCJ’s policy is in stark contrast to that of the Texas Commission of Jail Standards, which regulates and monitors temperatures and other factors pertaining to county jails’ living quarters.

Ariel Dulitzky, the director of the clinic, released a statement that said officials at TDCJ have known inmates are dying from extreme heat, as this document from the Texas Civil Rights project notes, since 1998. Dulitzky also said it has been more than two years since the Texas Civil Rights Project brought a wrongful death lawsuit against TDCJ for the death of an inmate due to organ failure resulting from exposure to extreme heat.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found extreme heat in prisons violate the Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The Human Rights Clinic intends to submit its findings to the relevant United Nations bodies and the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights.

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