Cool down lockup, judge tells Texas

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

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.

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