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Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett

25 Jul 2023


29 Read.

US Prisoners Extreme Heat: The Scorching Reality Inside Cells

As global temperatures soar, a hidden crisis unfolds within the confines of US prisons. ‘US prisoners extreme heat’ situations are becoming a grave concern.

Inmates and the staff who guard them are grappling with the brutal heat, especially in facilities without air conditioning.

Calvin Johnson, a former inmate, spent 37 years in a Texas state prison, enduring 37 scorching summers in a cell devoid of air conditioning.

On days when temperatures soared above 37.7C (100F), he had to resort to desperate measures to keep cool and stay alive. This is a common scenario in ‘US prisoners extreme heat’ situations.

Desperate Measures to Survive

Johnson recounts how inmates would block the toilet to let the water run, soaking their clothes and lying in the water to cool down.

Some inmates even resorted to drinking toilet water as it was slightly cooler than the water from the cell’s sink.

Access to cooling methods was limited. Fans were scarce and ice was a rare commodity. Johnson witnessed many inmates fainting from the heat. These ‘US prisoners extreme heat’ conditions are a growing concern.

US Prisoners Extreme Heat

The increasing frequency of dangerously hot conditions has sparked calls for reform in US prisons. Thirteen states in the hottest parts of the US, including Texas and Arizona, lack universal air conditioning in prisons, creating potentially lethal conditions.

A study found that summertime mortality rates in US state and private prisons rose by 5.2% for every 10F increase in temperature above historical averages. This alarming statistic underscores the urgency of addressing ‘US prisoners extreme heat’ situations.

US Prisoners Extreme Heat: Impact on Prison Staff

It’s not just the prisoners who are affected by the heat. Prison guards are suffering too. Clifton Buchanan, a former Texas prison guard, describes working in a prison with triple-digit temperatures as “working in an inferno.” This is another aspect of the ‘US prisoners extreme heat’ issue that needs attention.

Guards often experience lightheadedness, dizziness, and nausea due to the heat. These conditions, combined with the physical demands of the job, make their work environment extremely challenging.

US Prisoners Extreme Heat

Despite the clear need for change, prison reform advocates face an uphill battle. Texas’ tough-on-crime stance makes legislators reluctant to improve conditions.

The fight against ‘US prisoners extreme heat’ situations continues, highlighting the urgent need for reform and the human rights of those behind bars.

This year, the Texas House made moves to address the Lone Star State’s overheated prisons. It passed a bill that would require prisons to be kept between 18C-29C, already required in local jails, and budgeted over $343m to outfit the state’s prisons with air conditioning.

But the Senate rejected the bill and slashed the money allocated for improving conditions. This setback in the fight against ‘US prisoners extreme heat’ situations underscores the challenges faced by prison reform advocates.

US Prisoners Extreme Heat: The Scorching Reality Inside Cells