Cool down lockup, judge tells Texas
HOUSTON — A federal judge Wednesday gave prison officials 15 days to come up with a plan to lower the temperature to 88 degrees inside a southeast Texas prison where attorneys for inmates say the sweltering summer heat is endangering their health.
U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison’s preliminary injunction applies to about 500 “heat-sensitive” inmates at the Pack Unit, about 65 miles northwest of Houston. Those prisoners, among about 1,450 held in the prison, already have a variety of health conditions or are at least 65 years old.
Attorneys for six inmates who filed suit seeking emergency relief argued the intense heat violated their constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment. Evidence showed the heat index at the prison, the combination of temperature and humidity, topped 100 degrees during 13 days in 2016 and was between 90 and 99 degrees on 55 days.