Monday, July 30, 2012

5th Circuit: Inmates can sue TDCJ over excessive heat

After the suit was thrown out at the district court level, the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals said the Texas Civil Rights Project could sue the Texas Department of Criminal Justice on behalf of inmates over excessive heat. (See Grits coverage of oral arguments and a recent, related NY Times story.) TCRP this afternoon put out this press release:
U.S. FIFTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS RULES AGAINST PRISONS IN EXTREME TEMPERATURES CASE
Appellate court finds extreme temperature conditions can violate 8th Amendment

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals today reversed a Corpus Christi federal judge’s ruling dismissing a prisoners’ lawsuit claiming extreme temperatures violated his Eighth Amendment Rights. Lawyers for the Texas Civil Rights Project and DLA Piper represented Eugene Blackmon, a sixty-four-year-old prisoner suffering from hypertension and other medical conditions.

Temperatures inside the prison, which was not air conditioned, reached a heat index of 130 degrees. Expert testimony established the temperature during the summer of 2008 temperatures reached “extreme caution,” “danger,” or “extreme danger” levels identified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 51 days. The court held “Allowing a prisoner to be exposed to extreme temperatures can constitute a violation of the Eighth Amendment.” “A reasonable jury [could] find that the conditions of confinement … result[ed] in the denial of the minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities,” the court said.

“This is a huge victory for all Texas prisoners,” said Scott Medlock, Director of the Texas Civil Rights Project’s Prisoners’ Rights Program, who represented Mr. Blackmon. “Hopefully this decision will force TDCJ to reconsider housing prisoners in such dangerous conditions.” When informed of the decision, Mr. Blackmon said “that takes my breath away. I’m so happy to get my day in court after all these years.”
The court emphasized “with respect to a prisoner such as Blackmon, a jury could reasonably conclude that the remedial measures adopted by prison officials were inadequate to combat the extreme conditions in the C-8 dorm and to address the salient health risks.”

The Texas Civil Rights Project would like to thank Vasu Behara, Andrew Zollinger, and Alice Lineberry of DLA Piper. Mr. Behara represented Blackmon at trial, and argued the case on appeal pro bono. Sean Flammer of Scott, Douglass & McConnico wrote an amicus brief pro bono supporting Blackmon on behalf of Texas Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants, Texas Inmate Families Association, Texas Jail Project, Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York, and Florida Justice Institute, Inc.
MORE: Here's the opinion (pdf). See coverage from the Texas Tribune.

110 comments:

Lee said...

Grits,

How are the politicians going to explain the huge expense of fitting AC units to all of the prison to the taxpayers (when a few law abiding indigent citizens do not have AC). I will be watching the tv with popcorn in one hand and iced tea in the other and laugh to tears when the lawyers try to pull this off. I am not in favor of letting inmates sufficate but in the real world AC, food and shelter arent free. Money being spent on the prisons is money not going toward our school districts, trauma centers, or freeway congestion.
Wasnt there a time prisons were self sufficent and not a leech on the rest of society?

Lee said...

Free healthcare, Free food, free bed, free electricity, free AC....almost tempting to go and commit a crime myself.

Leach a free ride off the rest of society while they slave in the trenches and bullpins (those that can find jobs anyway)...what a life

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Lee, they can always incarcerate fewer people if they're concerned about the expense. Otherwise, if a federal court makes them cool the units, politicians' explanation to taxpayers won't really matter; they'll just have to do it.

Also, there was never "a time prisons were self sufficent and not a leech on the rest of society." Prisons = Socialism. I do agree, though, that "Money being spent on the prisons is money not going toward our school districts, trauma centers, or freeway congestion."

Your commentary about free healthcare, food, etc., is of course just demagogic BS. If you think that's the high life, go commit a serious crime. You can let us know when you get out if it's really the life of luxury you pretend it is in blog comments.

Anonymous said...

Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

banh trung thu 2012 said...

This is exactly what i gonna looking for, tks for posting

sunray's wench said...

Lee, none of it is free, it is paid for in part by the taxes that the inmates' friends and families pay, and that many inmates were paying when they were arrested - and could continue to pay if they were paroled in a more sensible and affirmative way.

Don't make yourself look silly by falling for the same old cliches.

North Texas Cop said...

Scott,

What did the Texas prison system do with prisoners in the days before air conditioning? How does this align with the fact that Texas prisons can no longe force any inmate to work (either inside or outside)? How are the heat and prison living conditions now worse than those in the first half of the 20th century?

Unknown said...

And in the 50s it was okay to discriminate against blacks, but we don't do that anymore either... The thing is, prisoners are dying from heat exhaustion every year. The State has an obligation to take proper care of those it chooses to incarcerate.

Anonymous said...

The total lack of compassion on the part of TDCJ and its employees, their callousness, ignorance and barbaric attitude is astounding! They callously fry the inmates during the week (Have you EVER been exposed to 130* weather for a long period time?), then they go to church on Sunday with a sanctimonious attitude, completely unaware that they are doing the very same work of the one (satan)they claim to despise. Lack of empathy, demagogy, cliches, ignorance and a system that condones lying, cheating, degrading other human beings, and praising their Lord (read: booze, bigotry, and belligerence).... this is TDCJ.
Were not for the court system that has restrained them on several occasion, TDCJ would make the Russian gulags look sophisticated.
Besides the heat, the habit of placing people in admin. segregation for very long periods of time and of depriving them of their basic human contact and sensory stimulation, amounts to torture and makes no sense, except to a sadist mentality.
I could go on and on.... it will all fall on deaf ears as I will be preaching to the choir; it does help, though, to vent and I
thank-you Grits for Breakfast for all the work you do. You restore some of my hopes in humanity.

Anonymous said...

A great majority of the TDCJ population suffer from a sad history of mental illness. Strange enough, so do the guards who often choose their profession for lack of other options in those miserable Texas counties where jobs are lacking, opportunities to get out are seemingly non-existent, and the bucolic, pastoral landscaping is deceiving as it harbors child abuse, drug abuse, alcoholism, poverty, ignorance and a host of other ills.
Many guards go home to wooden, unpainted, dilapidated shacks or trailers - despite their almost decent salary - they do drive OK cars, though. Travel through these counties, look at where some of those guards live,or have been raised, go to their honky tonks on Friday night, listen to the fundamentalist sermons on Sunday morning.... then understand that the whole system is a loony bin. The 3 evils of humanity are: ignorance, apathy, social and intellectual blindness. They are well and alive in Texas. The evidence? The existence of TDCJ, its history, its spiritually bankrupt mentality.

Death Penalty News said...

The "living" conditions on Texas death row are a disgrace to the state of Texas. This whole death-penalty business is an obscenity.

I am quite simply appalled by some of the comments posted above.

Anonymous said...

Dear "Death Penalty News":
I agree with your blog - "I oppose the death penalty in all cases, unconditionally, regardless of the method chosen to kill the condemned prisoner. The death penalty is inherently cruel and degrading, a cruel punishment that is incompatible with human dignity. To end the death penalty is to abandon a destructive diversionary and divisive public policy that is not consistent with widely held values. It not only runs the risk of irrevocable error it is also costly to the public purse as well as in social and psychological terms. It has not been proved to have a special deterrent effect. It tends to be applied in a discriminatory way on grounds of race and class. It denies the possibility of reconciliation and rehabilitation. It prolongs the suffering of the murder victim's family and extends that suffering to the loved ones of the condemned prisoner. It diverts resources that could be better used to work against violent crime and assist those affected by it."
Now, just for the heck of it..... imagine death by slowing suffocating from the Texas heat... fun, isn't it? Recently a 30-yr-old death row inmate didn't even make it to the death chamber. He just died of neglect, heat, and god knows what.
Every TDCJ employee is responsible of murdering him by an act of silent participation. Mercenaries, ruthless mercenaries.

Cara1947 said...

Grits,

Thank you for keeping these issues on the front burner.

The fact is that many in TDCJ are INNOCENT and there because of intimidation, lies, and other pressure tactics applied by DAs and LE. (Your coverage of DAs abusing power and withholding exculpatory evidence is only the tip of the iceberg.)

Further, in the town where I live, we have "air conditioned centers" (libraries, city buildings etc.) where the homeless/un-airconditioned folks are URGED to go during the day to alleviate the dangerous heat indexes. Where does a TDCJ inmate go?

I sincerely understand the argument about "done the crime, do the time" but some of these people did NOT do the crime. And, even if they did, don't they deserve to be treated as human beings? How does the law that prevents me from locking my cat in an overheated car, not apply to a person?

The bottom line is that many of the general public will never understand the ruptured, dysfunctional, dangerous judicial system until it knocks on their door.

Reminds me of a line from Martin Niemöller: "Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me."

Christian conservatives need to learn to walk their talk . . . improve school systems, accord people second chances, realize the cause of some of the societal problems that ferment crime . . . Would Jesus wash the feat of a whore? Then, I think He would treat prisoners as human beings also.

DEWEY said...

When I die, I know I'm going to heaven, I've spent my time in hell, TDC 1984-1989.

Anonymous said...

To Cara 1947: thanks for your compassionate post. As to the words: "christian conservatives"... I am smiling; it's an oxymoron.
The two words don't go together. You can't be a real Christian and be "conservative". When Christ died on the Cross, he was considered "a rebel" - that's why they killed him. Conservatives in this country talk the talk and then look on the other side, hardly ever "walking the walk".
Some are well-meaning, but very misguided. Look around you and tell me: when was the last time you saw a "conservative" do anything meaningful to help the disenfranchised? (there are exceptions, I am aware..)
Are you aware that Rick Perry is a conservative and, by sin of omission, culpable for letting these inmates fry in prison? Without mentioning innocent folks ... etc.
Now, Rick - bless his heart! - can't fix everything, we know. But he doesn't even try!

Cheri Ledbetter said...

First of all, Lee, any money NOT going to school districts, trauma centers, or freeway congestion is a direct result of the budget that lawmakers in Austin enacted. It is not the fault of Texas prisoners.

Of course, please realize that the number of prisoners continues to grow faster than the Board of Pardons and Paroles are letting them out. Releasing those non-violent offenders would clear out quite a few units but they won't have work because of lack of jobs.

Free healthcare provided by doctors and physician assistants that usually loathe the prisoners.

Free food that neither you or I would eat and a free bed with no pillow and certainly no comfort. Insanely hot in the summer and unusually cold in the winter.

However, in spite of the horrid living conditions in prison, I think you should find a way to check-in for about one year. I would choose Coffield (a hot house building) for you to spend your FREE time.

You can't have everything your way...if they take the criminal out of society and imprison them it then is our responsibility (as a civilized society) to treat them humanely.

Personally, I believe humanely includes not allowing them to die of heat stroke in a cell with a possible temperature of 125 degrees or more.

Anonymous said...

To those who believe that tx prisons are a nice hotel, please, go here:

http://minutesbeforesix.blogspot.com/2009/08/fifty-thousand-words-supposedly.html

then tell us how wonderful life is in prison!

Anonymous said...

To those whining about the cost of air conditioning prisons - IF the federal courts order that, its not the lawyers, or liberals or others that will be to blame. It is only the ignorant that would blame those fighting against keeping prisoners in 120+ degree temps. No, the ones to blame are those that run TDCJ and the Texas legislators that you elected. Yes, the ones YOU elected will be to blame. Why? The answer should be obvious to anyone with 1/2 a brain. They are to blame because they FAILED TO ACT REASONABLY. Its not like this is a problem that just snuck up on them. They have been aware of the issue for years and have failed to act. They have failed to act reasonably by doing things like bolting vents shut. They have failed to act reasonably by failing to provide adequate ventilation, water and other REASONABLE MEASURES. This isn't a case of people whining because its a little warm. THE REAL TRUTH HEAR IS THE STATE OF TEXAS HAS FAILED TO TAKE REASONABLE MEASURES TO REDUCE THE LIFE THREATENING CONDITIONS CAUSED BY THE HEAT. Had the officials taken REASONABLE MEASURES the courts wouldn't even be entertaining these cases. This is just like years ago when William Wayne Justice was forced to take over the system. The legislators and TDCJ officials were to blame then for failing to take REASONABLE MEASURES to address problems that they had long been aware of. Yet, stupid Texas citizens, who I guess can'tbe blamed for their pure ignorance, failed to place blame where it rightfully belonged and instead blamed the judge who was forced by the failures of those responsible to act. Here we go again. The legislators and those in charge of TDCJ have turned a blind eye to a serious problem. They have stubbronly and stupidly failed to take REASONABLE MEASURES to address a life and death problem. And, yet again we have stupid and ignorant citizens who will blame the courts and the lawyers instead of those idiots who think it is okay to bolt vents shut in this kind of heat. Place blame where it rightly belongs, with the stubborness and stupidity of legislators and TDCJ officials. If you support them in their stupidity, then you can also blame you own stupidity and ignorance. I doubt the courts will order that the prisons be air conditioned. I think they probably will order that REASONABLE MEASURES to provide ventilation, water, etc be done. Now, Lee and others, you tell me, why does it take a federal court order to get TDCJ officials to take REASONABLE COMMON SENSE MEASURES such as proivding adequate ventilation, water, etc.?

Harry Homeless said...

Lack of incarceration does not equate to lack of guilt. Wall Street has done more damage to lives than all current prisoners combined. It's the rich who are the true leeches of our society, syphoning hundreds of billions from the working poor and middle class into their own pockets.

If all the real crooks were in jail it would be those who predate on their fellow man, be it through oil speculation or through rationalizing prisoner abuse.

Brian Stanford said...

If it sounds so good why dont you go on down and live there. Think of all the great free stuff you get. What are you waiting for? Put your money where your mouth is.

Anonymous said...

When are people going to realize that we send people to prison AS punishment, not FOR punishment. The loss of freedom is the punishment.
Anyone whose been in the Army in the past 30 years knows what happens to the training schedule when the temperature gets too high. It stops or is modified to take the heat into consideration. The Army doesn't want to end up with a bunch of dead or heat injured people. Prisons should be the same way.
Of course, if we want to send people to prison FOR punishment, why stop with life threatening heat. Chaining them to oar carts in mines is a good idea. We could bring back galley slaves. After all, they don't pollute. We can build some nice work camps in the desert. And, while we're at it, we can put the inmates on a 1,000 calorie per day diet. Now, THAT would be punishment.
In the 1950s, Harris County build a jail specifically designed to be impossible to air condition. In the 1970s, a federal judge ordered the county to build a new jail for a lot of reasons, including the physical conditions in the jail as well as crowding. Secretly, the then-sheriff and commissioners court celebrated while they publicly criticize the judge.
Once society locks people up in prisons society takes responsibility for meeting their reasonable needs for food, shelter, medical care, clothing and safety. Letting inmates slowly cook in 130+ degree cells isn't providing reasonable shelter.

DeathBreath said...

Most of those commenting on this subject, air-conditioning, have never ever walked inside a prison unit, talked to offenders or witnessed what it is like to walk through a dormitory or cell block in the Texas heat. But, I have.

For the misinformed & infinitely ignorant fools that commented here, you obviously don't know what you're talking about!

You can whine all you want about the cost of incarceration, but you don't know what you're talking about.

What is the difference in heating & cooling? Both are forms of air-conditioning.

If you still believe in the harsh treatment method, you are a buffoon. People are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment. Research has repeatedly shown that punishment is a highly ineffective method of behavioral management. Why? Once the punishment is gone, the behavior resumes. Think of the driving along the interstate. People tend to slow down in the presence of Law Enforcement; however, some speed up when they leave.

I learned from an old school Warden. He said, "feed them well, work them hard."

I've tried to follow this advice, "treat them firm & fairly, but don't lie."

I find it odd that Texas has so many Bible-thumpers ready to pass scorn onto others.

For many Xians, these words are often ignored: "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you", Matthew 5:44.

Vincent van Gogh said...

Reading through all these comments one gets the idea that TDCJ is the bad guy here. That the only reason that the prison system does not have A/C is because, TDCJ is the Antichrist and wants to torture inmates. The mud was flying around so fast if I had just landed here from another planet I would think TDCJ could have put A/C in all the prisons years ago but, their interest is denying inmates of there 8th amendment rights has stood in the way.

Since when did TDCJ get the power to tax in Texas? They have to operate on the money budgeted for them by the Legislature. It seems to me, if everybody is so head up about getting A/C installed in the prisons some of that indignant outrage should be directed at the state representatives who have dramatically underfunded every aspect of the prison system in Texas.

So, if you want the prisons in Texas to have A/C why don't direct your poison pen letters to the people who have the power to do something about it. Then get out wallets and tell them you will be glad to help pay for it. As a matter of fact, while you’re at it you need to dig a little deeper into that wallet because, there are other critical problems that need funding as well. Texas gets the security staff they pay for. Look up our state's position out of the fifty states. It's an eye opener. Medical care is so under financed it's appalling.

In short, put up or shut up. Name calling fixes nothing. Maybe Texas can borrow money from China. Now that's an idea.

Anonymous said...

That has to be the most ill informed comment ever...let's be clear about what we're talking about...Texas prison system is a multi-billion $$ industry not to mention 40% of most cases tried in ALL counties are false or needless imprisonment...PERIOD...I have the facts to back it up you clown of a human being...you need to go crawl back under your rock in which you came out of & just stay in your fantasy land & read accurate information instead of watching tv & choaking on popcorn...it's imbarrasing to hear such non-sense & has no merit what so ever...

Anonymous said...

Lee...that has to be the most ill informed comment EVER...let's be clear about what we're talking about...Texas prison systems are a multi-billion $$ industry not to mention 40% of most cases tried in ALL counties are false or needless imprisonment...PERIOD...I have the facts to back it up you clown of a human being...you need to go crawl back under the rock you came out of & just stay in your clueless world & read accurate information instead of watching tv & choaking on popcorn...it's embarrassing to hear such non sense & has zero merit what so ever...

Elizabeth said...

Texas prisons were self-sufficient in the 19th century when they were little more than cotton plantations worked by black convicts instead of chattel slaves. Convict labor was plentiful thanks to laws that essentially criminalized the lifestyles of freed slaves. The legacy continues: Selective enforcement of the law, especially drug laws, sends blacks to prison today at a far greater rate than whites.

Anonymous said...

"The fact is that many in TDCJ are innocent..."

"A great majority of the TDCJ population suffer from a sad history of mental illness".

Sounds like most of the TDCJ inmates are innocent but their just to crazy to know it.

Doesn't sound like either of these people have been around prisoners very much. When I first started working in prison I thought all the inmates would maintain they were innocent. In reality for the most part, the inmates will tell you they were guilty. It is just that they think no one has the right to to lock them up for what they did. They also think it's their right and duty to cause those working in corrections as much trouble as possible.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Vincent is a real Liberal - thinks the answer to everything is to raise taxes and throw more money at the problem.

Anonymous said...

It's also obvious that Vincent is a goverment employed Bureaucrat. Any problem with the buraucracy is blamed at a lack of money. If those stingy taxpayers were willing to pay more taxes the bureaucrats could solve all the problems. Of course, the bureaucrats, like Vincent, never thinnk that things might be improved by them getting off their lazy asses, eliminating waste and coming up with common sense solutions. But, then common sense and government aren't things that are usually found together.

Anonymous said...

"TDCJ is the bad guy here."

Vincent, if you could see past the end of your own nose you'd see that TDCJ is the bad guy here.

It's not the taxpayers who bolted vents shut. It's not the taxpayers who refuse to provide fans to inmates with no money to buy them. It's not the taxpayers who refuse to provide cups so that inmates with no money in their commissary accouts have something to drink water out of. It's not the taxpayers who fail to provide sufficient ice water to inmates.

How much would any of these items cost, Vincent? Are you seriously saying that the fact that TDCJ lacks the power to tax prevents it from taking reasonable measures to reduce the risk of someone dying from the heat? Seriously? ARe you really that stupid? Now I know why you work for the government - not smart enough to do anything else.

There are reasonable measures that can be taken that would have minimual costs. Believe it or not, Vincent, this is a problem that can be addressed without giving TDCJ the power to tax. But, the morons that run TDCJ are to stupid or stubborn ( is that you Vincent?) to do those things. They'd rather go to court and try to defend that fact that someone died in a 130 degree oven. If they had any common sense, instead of trying to defend the case they would have simply went to the court and said, "yes, there was a problem, here is what we've done to prevent it from happening again." To do any different is nothing but pure stupidity and stubborness.

So, Yes, Vincent, TDCJ is, without a doubt, the bad guy.

Anonymous said...

TDCJ IS the Anti-Christ. And most TDCJ employees are his minions. I have first-hand knowledge of this fact. Just sayin'......

Anonymous said...

For all the employees down there in Gatesville, that thump the bible. Well, if there is a hell, you all are going to bust it wide open. The devils minions are alive and well in Gatesville. Inmates don't work. Yea right!!! They sit sick inmates in the boiling hot gym as punishment for medical restrictions. Medical ho squad. Don't ya know!!! The officers use the horses as weapons against the inmates to provoke them. Yep, it is going to be a lot hotter where those TDCJ employees finally end up. They still give them a nasty plastic barrel of water a day that the inmates have to dip water out of. It looks like creek water after 5 minutes. Just like the Plantation Masters used to give the slaves. The officers are professionals when it comes to hazing the inmates.

Anonymous said...

"In reality for the most part, the inmates will tell you they were guilty."

This makes them a lot more honest than most politicians, cops, judges, and prosecutors.

Anonymous said...

Someone just said: "How much would any of these items cost, Vincent? ..... ARe you really that stupid?"
Yes, HE IS that stupid. Actually, he is delusional. He believes his own rhetoric.
I also read above: "it is scientifically proven that punishment works."
NO, no, no: it is scientifically demonstrated that punishment does NOT work (psych 101, 1st class in college). Only someone who never took a class would make such a remark.
As to learning "psychology" from wardens...... why even comment?

Anonymous said...

...learning psychology from wardens...... it's just like try to learn psychology from a bible thumping redneck southern minister who graduated from the same institution which used to justify and promote racism, segregation, chain gangs, and the subordination of women that they still consider second-class citizens. They just won't admit is and they still do.

Anonymous said...

"In reality for the most part, the inmates will tell you they were guilty."

This makes them a lot more honest than most politicians, cops, judges, and prosecutors.

And especially a lot more honest than any TDCJ employee in Gatesville!!!!!

Anonymous said...

In favor of Vincent. At least he reads these posts. There is still hope that something may sink in.

Anonymous said...

I hear, see, sense, a lot of anger from the ex-inmates and the inmate families. How can we translate this anger into activism?

Anonymous said...

Anon 241

Temper, Temper! Does your mother know that you talk like that? Try working in a little rational thought into yor comments and people will pay more attention to your argument.

Inmates don't have cups to drink water out of - really now!?

Anonymous said...

Law enforcers are at risk. See how the very job they do makes them exposed to more health risks than anyone else!

Police Officers are Prone to Stress-induced Ailments! psychologyonlinecourses.net
The stress police officers have to put up to is tremendous. They are exposed to it on a regular basis because of their job which makes them more prone to its negative effects. In effect, a sound health isn’t something to take for granted....
if they work in prison, the inmates become targets of their anger.

Anonymous said...

http://psychologyonlinecourses.net/police-officers-are-prone-to-stress-induced-ailments/?goback=%2Egde_3903622_member_133428775

Anonymous said...

Does punishment work?

Really it's most likely a moot question. Despite all the programs we have in place in the prison system it would seem that they don't effect recidivism much at all.

By default punishment is all that's left.

I beleive there was a psychological study done that points to the conclusion that even a fly learns with torture.

Anonymous said...

It not a moot question. What the fly "learns" with torture is "learned helplessness" Once tortured, the animal is unable to fend for itself.
People subject to prolonged physical and mental stress (the key is prolonged) eventually develop PTSD or other types of mental health problems that affect brain structures, sometimes permanently.
The "programs" in prison don't work because they are NOT there. They are bread crumbs offered inconsistently and in harsh environment. For example, Skyview "psychiatriC" unoit still punishes "trouble" inmates with prolonged period of isolation (23hr out of 24hrs no contact). The hour that they spend "in group therapy" (I don't know if to laugh or cry) is a useless token. There are no mental health programs in TDCJ; just smoke.
Psychotropic medication can be fatal when patients are exposed to extreme heat. You cannot brutalize someone for years and then expect that a few hours of group "therapy" works. It's like to try to empty an ocean with a tea spoon.
Look for howmw many times UTMB/TDCJ has to replace "therapists". The turnover is incredible. Once you get a real doctor there, they leave as fast as they can.........
statements like yours are too generic and do not reflect how the system really works -- or does not.

Anonymous said...

There are 3 types of punishment:
1. Natural consequences: you steal, you loose your freedom. Go to jail. It's a deterrent for some.
2. Punishment within the prison: a. you misbehave, you loose privileges. It's a deterrent for some.
3. Cruel and unusual punishments; harassement by guards; isolation; beatings, mind-games by guards and inmates alike; poor nutrition; shaming and belittling; poor sanitary conditions, poor food, lack of clean, drinkable water,
lack of emotional support, lack of education, and so on.
This DOES NOT work. It never has, it never will. Thus the recidivism. Once people are brutalized, exposed to prolong, unrelenting stress, the amygdala in the brain is programmed to be reactive; cognitive impairments set in as the brain structures loose important connectipons; sense of self-worth goes down the tube; the abilitry to survive on the outside diminishes. After you have been locked up, the world becomes strange. Sensory stimulations (cars, lights, the sun, the trees, social responsibilities..) become too overwhelming. Many commit suicide; other drink and do drugs; other go back bec/ the can't survive. They no longer know how.
That's why there is recidivism.
There are other important reasons, but there is no space here.
The research is there and it is clear. Very few are truly able or interested to look at it. Politics take precedence over academia.

Anonymous said...

Again, it was said before. To see the real conditions in TDCJ (and this is not all) go to:

http://minutesbeforesix.blogspot.com/2009/08/fifty-thousand-words-supposedly.html

a picture is worth a 1000 words.

golis rashins said...

How sad society has turned. So angry at the world. If you leave a child or dog in a vehicle with the window rolled up and they die, you can and probably will be charged. But yet so many participate in the torture techniques that in some twisted way they feel will "teach" these men. Sweltering concrete in a 8x12 cell with no air is just wrong. I was recently to the Polunsky Unit and leaving the guards just waved me thru the gate, because it was too hot for them to come out. He even brought me out a cup of ice water from his McDonalds water jug. These are men as well.

Anonymous said...

Golis, don't let the "kindness" of the guards fool you. Yes they are people- the few who mean well usually don't stay because they are usually chased away by the rotten tomatoes. What's left is lifers that have become desensitized by the brutality and are brainwashed by the system which does not allow them to think on their own, dislike the system, make suggestions or protest.
These lifers play a good game when visitors come: "have a good visit!"; "how are you today, sir?" ---- then they turn around and cuss the inmates out.

Anonymous said...

12The Supreme Court, in Estelle v. Gamble, established “the government’s obligation to provide medical care for those whom it is punishing by incarceration.” In Estelle, an inmate of the Texas Department of Corrections (“TDC”)12 sued the Director of the TDC, the warden of the prison, and the chief medical officer of the prison hospital. The inmate suffered an injury while on a prison work assignment and brought a lawsuit alleging that the subsequent medical treatment, or lack thereof, violated the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment.
The Supreme Court stated that even though “the primary concern of the drafters [of the Eighth Amendment] was to PROHIBIT ‘tortur[ous]’ and other ‘barbar[ic]’ methods of punishment… the Amendment proscribes (prohibits) more than physically barbarous punishments.” The Court held that certain penal measures violate the Eighth Amendment when they are contrary to “evolving standards of decency” or “involve the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.”

Estelle prohibited the “unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain, proscribed by the Eighth Amendment.”

A prisoner’s constitutional right is violated by prison doctors or prison guards who deny, delay, or interfere with medical treatment. [And this also applies to jail doctors and jail guards.]
(From a 2011 report by the : “A THIN LINE–The Texas Texas Civil Rights Project Prison Healthcare Crisis and The Secret Death Penalty”)

WHEN MENTALLY ILL INMATES ARE PLACED IN PROLONGED ISOLATION BY THE WARDEN, THEY CANNOT RECEIVE PROPER PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT. When ventilation is prohibited treatment does not work. IN THIS CASE THE WARDEN AND THE GUARDS INTERFERE WITH PROPER MEDICAL CARE AND CAN BE SUBJECT TO A LAW SUIT UNDER THE 8TH AMENDMENT.

I am patiently waiting for this to happen.

Any guards or warden LISTENING? I hope so...

Anonymous said...

TCRP Letter to Texas Sunset Advisory Commission Jan 2012
I express my deep concern about the abysmal condition of health care within the Texas prison system. The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires prisons to provide adequate medicalcare to prisoners. Because of budget pressure, Texas is in danger of failing to provide adequate care even though courts have made it clear that lack of funds is no defense for failing to do so. With this in mind, the state should carefully consider clearing its backlog of prisoners eligible for Medically Recommended Intensive Supervision (“medical parole”), which could save up to $76 million in costs per biennium. Before the 82nd Texas Legislative Session in 2011, Texas prison health care teetered on the edge of unconstitutionality.(4) This was a direct consequence of inadequate funding. ..
As a result, the University of Texas Medical Branch’s expenses for prison medical care now exceed its budget by about $2 million a month.(6) UTMB will have to lay off as many as 250 ….Health care in the
The healthcare situation in TDCJ is quickly deteriorating because of factors beyond its control .. snip
From 1972 to 2011, Texas’ prison population jumped 995%, even though the state’s total
population increased just 124%. This spike was not caused by an increase in the crime rate.... the prison population jump was caused by the creation of new felonies, long prison sentences for nonviolent offenders, and the errant practices of the Parole Board. snip
Many states faced with rising health care costs have turned to private health care in prisons to help balance budgets, but private health care has not saved money. Indeed, during the last legislative session in Texas, private sector health care providers made it clear they would not be able to provide services to TDCJ if the health care budget was cut further.(22) Which it was. Moreover, private providers are notorious for providing inadequate health care. Prison death investigators routinely discover the same failings: medical staff trimmed to the bone, doctors under-qualified or out of reach, nurses doing tasks beyond their training and legal abilities, prescription drugs withheld, patient records unread, and employee misconduct unpunished. In fact, one nurse working for a private provider joked “[w]e save money because we skip the ambulance and bring them straight to the morgue.”(23) Relying on private health care providers is not the answer to the Texas prison crisis.
Solutions......

Sincerely,
James C. Harrington,
Director
Texas Civil Rights Pr

BarkGrowlBite said...

Anon 5:30 AM. It is obvious that you have never witnessed what some subhuman pieces of shit do to their victims. I for one, have seen a good number of murder victims who were brutalized beyond belief before they mercifully died. The perpetrators of these horrible crimes should not be allowed to exist on this earth. The death penalty is a just and appropriate punishment for vicious killers. If you had seen what I have, you would sing a different tune.

Anonymous said...

Dear BarkGrowBite:

To whom are you addressing your post? The majority of inmates are not vicious killers and two wrongs do not make one right.

Many innocents "killers" have become free after decades of solitary confinement as they were proven innocent. You would have executed them, after torturing them, thus becoming a murderer yourself.

The last "vicious killer" on death row in Texas is mentally retarded and has an IQ of 85. (do YOU give a shit? I guess not.)

Sociopathy has been shown to be the product of 3 co-occurring things: early child abuse, brain damage and inherited factors. These three elements have been present in every research about sociopaths. These people are not sub-humans - they are just very, very sick and their sickness makes them do very, very evil things. Even if you don't believe this and you believe they are pure evil,(and there may be pure evil, but I don't believe that) I hope you will not get to their level.

The death penalty is institutionalized murder: all CIVILIZED western countries have done away with it. And, IF you want to execute someone, why the sadistic environment? What do YOU get out of torturing people? Who are you to be judge, jury and executioner?

Your post shows me that you too may be a sociopath.I hope not and I hope you were not or are not a policeman or a guard. You scare the daylights out of me. If your family was a victim of a horrendous crime, you have my sympathy and understanding. I encourage you to seek help.

If I had seen what you have (and I have on 2 occasions unfortunately) I would pity the killers for being who or what they are. I would pity their families for going through hell. I would pity, love, honor, revere, their innocent and unsuspecting victims and help their families (I do pro-bono work) - BUT I WOULD NEVER GET TO YOUR LEVEL OF THINKING. MY GUT FEELING TELLS ME YOU ARE A DANGEROUS MAN. WHO IN THE ... . ARE YOU TO CALL ANYBODY SUB-HUMAN/ ??? God, I hope I am wrong about you, but the vibes are not good, not good.

I should not even answer you, I am scared of you. I only find the courage because, if I were silent, I would be guilty of a sin of omission. You are wrong: I don't say this often I MUST say this now.

Anonymous said...

Why are they in prison in the first place? Eyewitness misidentification, corrupt judges-don't get me talking about the police and the prosecutors.

Anonymous said...

BarkGrowBite is a retired policeman. I pity his victims.

Anonymous said...

Go back to sleep...no one cares what you think from a saying some retard made up years ago...

Anonymous said...

Bark Grow Bite. What a joke. Yes probably a corrupted prison guard or law enforcement low life. I guess he would have killed some of those 30 or so innocent people release from Texas Prisons and Texas Death Row also. Funny the state of Texas did kill one man that was found innocent after he was six feet in the ground. You need help and you think you know so much? Then why are you here wasting your time? Oh- I forgot, just another loser former prison guard who can no longer torture people.

Anonymous said...

In addition to being a retired policeman, BarkGrowlBite states on his blogsite he is a Nazi Germany refugee. Any more questions?

Anonymous said...

Golis, don't let the "kindness" of the guards fool you. Yes they are people- the few who mean well usually don't stay because they are usually chased away by the rotten tomatoes. What's left is lifers that have become desensitized by the brutality and are brainwashed by the system which does not allow them to think on their own, dislike the system, make suggestions or protest.
These lifers play a good game when visitors come: "have a good visit!"; "how are you today, sir?" ---- then they turn around and cuss the inmates out.


If you ever go on the Crain Unit, they do not wait until you leave to cuss the inmates out; they do it in front of their visitors. They will cuss visitors out also. The Prison guards think that friend and family members are prisoners for two hours. The guards will yell at, publicly humiliate, and cuss visitors out on the spot. If one vending machine is out and the other visiting area's is not, they will laugh in your face and say too bad. What are you going to do about it, they will tell you. You will only meet a good professional officer one time and then you will never see them again. They run them off. This unit makes the old Soviet Gulags look like a bed and breakfast. The sickest feeling I ever got in my life was when I toured a concentration camp in West Germany in the 1980's, then some thirty years I got that same feeling again on the Crain Unit. They make the women sleep under a wool blanket in the summer heat last night at 104 degrees. Why? So they do not look revealing to the male guards in the dorms. Why? Because the male guards, are predators and cannot keep their paints zipped up. Last December two male guards were walked off this unit with no criminal charges. Why? They had sex with at least 5 female inmates. One inmate’s had to have a pregnancy test administered to her, three other contracted STD's. The female inmates were brutally punished, while nothing happened to the male guards but a loss of a job. A food service officer was walked off this unit last May for serving up more than food to the inmates. But they turn around and blame the women and brutally punished them. Blame the victims. The female’s inmates will now be denied parole, because the male guards act like wild animals. If they are not under the wool blankets, they are brutally punished again. They are given a plastic barrel of water and everyone has to dip something into it to get water. After five minutes, it is no better than creek water. That is what visitation is like on this unit and you can tell this is true at visitation, because the guards do not even try to hide it either.

sunray's wench said...

BarkGrowlBite if you are a Nazi Germany refugee, you must be older than your picture suggests. My mum was born at the end of the second world war and would have been 67 this year. You must have been a baby when you left Germany and thus would have little to no memory of what went on there. I don't really think it's relevant to this discussion, but as someone else brought it up...

You may be justified in your vehement feelings towards those who mutilate and kill their victims, but how do you justify handing out the same punishment to those who wrote a bad cheque, or drove and got caught after drinking a little too much the night before?

Anonymous said...

Oh, God, my buttons got pushed this morning... If you really want to know about prisons, ask inmates families. We are punished for nothing, visitation taken away without cause, I have had no visitation in over a year, I got a bogus case. My son is at Connally and the fine administration is constantly mistreating my son, His property has been taken away, his mail is being held for over a month, he got triple punishment for not obeying an order. 45 days no commissary, or recreation, he was removed from his cell, placed in what he calls the torture chamber, where he has electricity only when the guards want, spoiled food, no fan, no personal belongings.On top of that he was supposed to be reclassified on May 24, still not done. I write letters to everyone, no one listens, if they do, my son is called a liar, and then they retailiate against him. He was just told that if he keeps it up he knows what he will get by the warden. What the hell, they are messing up his mind, depriving him of basic needs and limited socialization. Sorry for the rant. Anyone got ideas on who I can write?

Anonymous said...

More laws means more prisons. Everyday someone gets prison time for the a new felony on the books. Just today a woman may face jail time due to her dog attacking a child riding her bike. Not to defend the lady or the dog, but prison time is ridiculous. The prison system has become a industry, some privately owned and financed by the tax payer. Without prisoners there would no prisons and there would be no income. Our society is becoming over burden with new laws that are felony based for the most minor of offense. The system has become a pay as you go, if you got the money honey you don’t pay the time. The problem is there is more that cannot pay and end up with the crime. The criminal justice system lawyers make money and the prisons system makes money, they win. The tax payers and the prisoner loose!!. At one time jail time was meant the hardiest of crime and death row for the hardiest penalty. I guess this is what to expect when the laws are written by criminal justice lawyers that make up the legislative branch. They made dam sure they will always have a job!!

Vincent van Gogh said...

I wrote a comment yesterday in which I expressed concern about the poor quality of security, medical care and of course the lack of A/C in the prison system. I suggested it would take money to fix these problems.

It brought on a barrage of criticism suggesting I was just a Bureaucrat who believed the only solution was to raise taxes and throw money at the problem. Then I was taken to task because there were simple low cost things that could be done like proving fans and drinking cups, which is not being done because, of the incompetent malignant security staff.

Should there be A/C? Of course there should. Is the competency and attitude of security staff what it should be? Of course it isn't. Is the medical care any where near the level it should be? No it is not. However, fixing these issues takes money. Providing cups and fans will not substitute for paying for A/C. If you want more professional security staff the job will have to pay what it takes to attract good people to the job. Raising the level of medical care takes money.

My point was all I hear is a constant steam of criticism and no real plan on how it can be fixed. Sounds like we all agree what's wrong but, we don't want to pay for it.

Anonymous said...

My praise goes to Gritsforbreakfast for putting Lee in his/her place! As was previously said by another poster, family members & friends of TDCJ's inmates also pay taxes. As for myself I have a family member wrongfully incarcerated in TDCJ & I would rather see my tax dollars go towards their safe keeping than towards the welfare system etc. And God forbid the torture & inhumane treatment that is provided by TDCJ should result in my family member's demise, I would hope their wife & children sue TDCJ for all their worth. I would also hope that what ever they would win, comes directly out of Lee's pocket book.

Anonymous said...

As I just read above, "...the prison system makes money..." Well, that's good to know. What's everybody worried about then. Lets redirect all that profit and pay for everything that's needed to improve conditions.

Anonymous said...

I found where a man is serving a 99 year sentence in TDCJ for credit card abuse! WTF....Really?

The prison system is nothing but a $ making racket & the judges & DA's are all in on it!

Anonymous said...

Really, I guess the judges and DA's work on commission. Who knew?

Arachne646 said...

The reason that heat deaths are so much more a reason for litigation now than "back in the day" are clearly in 09:05:00's post--more offenses are prison time felonies, and prisoners are spending longer than ever before in prison and growing old there, not to mention the only place for people with severe mental illness now seems to be prison, and anti-psychotic drugs are heat-stroke triggers. Canada has a Conservative Party government now, and they have decided that the USA has such a great criminal justice system, that Canada needs to emulate it, with new prisons constructed in all the provinces (states). Haven't seen yet if the provinces take up CCA and Geo Group's offers to build and run some.

sunray's wench said...

I have just received a notification from CURE about this decision to go to court. In it, are these quotes:

"State Senator John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat and chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, said he was not alarmed by the number of deaths, noting that the overall state inmate population exceeds 150,000. Keith Price, the former warden of the Coffield Unit, agreed.

“Just from a statistical standpoint, that’s really not significant, particularly when you consider the population,” Mr. Price, an associate professor of sociology and criminal justice at West Texas A&M University, said of the 12 deaths. “Many inmates are poorly equipped to manage their lives and thus make poor decisions. I do not believe it is up to the taxpayers to provide air-conditioning for inmates when some simple self-discipline would avoid many of these problems.”"

Keith Price may think that these deaths are "not really significant" but they ARE significant for every family member who loses someone to the heat inside a TDCJ prison. That specific quote shows in no uncertain terms exactly how human life is considered by those who run TDCJ. It disgusts me that anyone charged with the care of so many individuals could think that a few deaths were "not really significant". It does not matter how or why those inmates ended up there, those charged with their care need to take their responsibilities seriously and not just try and brush them off like something they trod in on the way to the bank.

Vincent van Gogh said...

Whitmire says, he is not alarmed by the number of heat related deaths in the Texas prison population. The number of deaths is not statistically significant, so says some authority figure at A&M. I'm sure that's true but, that reasoning will not mean much when a test case of a heat related death of an inmate comes before a Federal Judge. A wrongful death, (I would think and I'm no lawyer), would be hard to defend by just saying, "But, your Honor, ...it was not statistically significant."

The Legislature as a whole, Whitmire included, is not going to do anything proactive to fix this problem because, it is not politically expedient. They will wait until a Federal Judge mandates the state to spend the money and lay the blame off on them.

Anonymous said...

knowing how corrupt the justice system is in today's society, just look at all the overturned convictions in the last 10 years. the judge's and prosecutor's i guarantee are getting some kind of kick back. i don't trust anything or anybody in the political or judicial arena.

Anonymous said...

I bet they would not be saying its "not really significant", in regards to the heat-related deaths in TDCJ, if it were guards dropping dead. Not only are the inmates subjected to torturous treatment because of the heat, they are also made to endure basic starvation on a daily basis. I would like to know how many people would like to be subjected to a (lunch or supper) bologna sandwiche and PB&J sandwiche and considered this a wholesome 5-star diet that will sustain and keep a normal person healthy?!?

Anonymous said...

You might just be suprised. TDCJ does not treat it's employees much better than the offenders.

Anonymous said...

Somebody mentioned basic starvation on a daily basis. There are very strict policies that mandate the nutritional value of meals. This is an area that is audited and it is difficult for any one prison to flaunt the rules. However, as long as the meals contain the required nutritional value, how appetizing that meal maybe is not very important.

For instance, an inmate who throws urine and feces on security staff is fed something called a food loaf. This loaf contains all the foods on the menu for a meal. It is ground up and formed into a loaf and baked in the oven and given to the inmate.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy these long comment threads because they illustrate the interest, the passion, and all to often the ignorance of those commenting. Discussions on prisoner security issues and health matters seem to excite the most passion.

It appears that something will have to be done in Texas, or soon enough something will be done TO Texas reminiscent of the unfortunate Ruiz decision that brought much needed reforms and surely a near-equal amount of bad policy to Texas prisons.

If you lock a person up, regardless of their offense, they deserve humane treatment, decent clothing and housing, safe activities, and basic medical care. If the state can't or won't afford it, they better let some folks go and quit putting so many behind bars.

The drunks and drug abusers is a good place to start. Easily handled on community supervision, more cost effective to manage that way, better chance of employment. Citizens better learn not to enjoy locking this group up so much, and for so long or taxpayers will be paying through the nose.

PAPA said...

How about releasing the Innocent, Wrongfully Convicted, and non violent offenders, We still have Rissie Owens in Charge of Parole who stated to the news a couple of years ago "She does NOT believe in Parole", does anyone recall that backlash but then Perry appointed her to another term, WHY, she is costing the Tax Payer Citizens of Texas millions by playing her power/control game when many Inmates are due to be released. Less in there less the cost and less units the taxpayers have to support. How about changing the Immunity Laws for all the Criminal Justice System that will shut down a lot of the corruption happening which will close several prison units accept for those that have to go to prison due to their corruption. The offenders are going to be released, most of them I should say, they are going to be moving back into your community,do you want someone living next door to you that has been so de-humanized that they can't act like humans because the abuse, torture, neglect, medical problems, corrupt guards, etc...think about it people, do you want them to return to society rehabilated able to work and hold a job so they can give back to the community through there work,supporting their families, etc.Prisons were created for the violent murders,rapist etc, probation is for those that do lesser deeds and for the non violent, stop the insanity of putting every one in jail.What is going on is not working, if it is broken it needs to be fixed.

Anonymous said...

True: "It appears that something will have to be done IN Texas, or soon enough something will be done TO Texas reminiscent of the unfortunate Ruiz decision that brought much needed reforms and surely a near-equal amount of bad policy to Texas prisons."
Everybody who counts is too scared to do anything. Support groups don't "support" a damn thing except getting money from inmates family or giving lip to the families and kissing ass to the system (now, I am not mentioning anybody here) - If you don't believe me: look at how many law suits inmate families supports groups, religious groups, barking groups with fancy website.... people who claim they will fight and don't do shit.... some are actually spies of the system. I'd better keep my mouth shut.
I HOPE THAT THOSE FINE GROUPS, WOULD GET TOGETHER AND STOP KISSING POLITICIANS' ASS to get breadcrumbs in return. And NO! guards should NOT have immunity. And yes! inmates are starving: what they give them is a "minimum" amount of slop they call food to keep them alive at a schedule that's ridiculous: breakfast at 4:00 AM? So families send the commissary money to buy overpriced junk food just not to go hungry every day.
If an inmate is sick and cannot go to chow... they lose a meal. Last weekend I saw a poor sick man who was so emaciated.... but they aree feeding him a govmt approved "nutritious" meal. The last time they ate a fresh apple was when?

Anonymous said...

It looks like we are about through with this discussion. What desperately needs to be said (and yes, I am joyfully yelling):

A WARM THANK YOU TO THE TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT. THEY GOT RESULTS AND WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT. I WILL DONATE TO THEM AND I ENCOURAGE YOU TO DO THE SAME.
THANK-YOU FOR GRITS FOR BREAKFAST. DO YOU ACCEPT DONATIONS? YOU ARE TO BE AGAIN COMMENDED FOR MODERATING THESE DISCUSSIONS AND FOR OFFERING A FORUM TO CORRECTION OFFICERS, INMATES, AND FAMILIES ALIKE. ONLY THROUGH THE EXCHANGE OF FEELINGS AND IDEAS, CAN FOLKS GAIN INSIGHT.
AND THANK-YOU TO GRITS FOR BREAKFAST READERS AND CONTRIBUTORS.
MAY GOD BLESS US ALL IN THIS MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Grits, since it's 'all' been said, I just have one question -

*How many of the Anonymous comments are from the same IP address? Asking because it looks like GFB just got highjacked again.

NOTE: those that put their name or what they want us to think it is) on the stupid crapola, you can thank Grits for giving you the platform and should not be surprised when you are chewed up and farted out as hot air. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thomas, why are you against the anonymous posts? They seem valid. What rattled your cage?

Anonymous said...

Thomas, reading from your own blog:

PROJECT: Not Guilty is a for profit at this time but will never charge a fee for services rendered. Instead we have chosen to operate by surviving on our own merits, advertising revenue and of course the kindness of others...."

If you are not a lawyer, have no lawyers on your side, and do not work on cases... what do you do?
Information and spreading the news is good (and you seem to do that) but why attack others like anonymous writers who have NOT asked for ANY money for their contribution to this forum.
Again, what rattled your cage?

Anonymous said...

Thomas has a hidden agenda and should mind his own business. Note to everyone this clown is probably tracking IP addresses and turning them over to TDCJ officials. What have you done to affect positive change to the ole plantation prison system. I know you read the bible and pray on it. What a jerk.

Anonymous said...

This has gone viral!
Links to this story:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/01/eugene-blackmon-texas-pris...

and here is the other one from next generation journal:

http://nextgenjournal.com/2012/07/texas-prisoners-and-the-deadly-heat/

and another

http://richmond.legalexaminer.com/wrongful-death/prisoners-boiling-...


http://www.texastribune.org/texas-newspaper/texas-news/brief-top-te...

and another:

http://www.statesman.com/news/texas-politics/summer-heat-revives-de...

one more

http://www.dallasjustice.com/dallascriminallawyerblog/texas-heat-ho...

and another

http://www.kens5.com/news/164504026.html

and another:

http://www.statesman.com/news/texas-politics/summer-heat-revives-de...

also

http://www.khou.com/news/local/Hot-prison-cells-killing-Texas-inmat...


Texas Heat Horror: Inmates Dying From Heat in Texas ts

Anonymous said...

Prisons and Jail Cells – No AC and No Water, No Fans … Unless They Buy Them
Texas weather is breaking records with the June 2012 heat wave; temperatures are reaching well over 100 degrees in most of the state. The increase in electrical power usage is spiking, too, as air conditioning usage increases: there’s talk of Texas having to implement brown-outs to conserve power if this keeps up.

Right now, those brown outs are not a concern of the Texas prison system: Texas prisons don’t have air conditioning. And that’s a big, big problem in this state because it’s killing people in a really horrible way.

Wrongful Death Suit Filed On Behalf of Man Who Died From Heat Stroke in Hutchins County Jail

Larry Gene McCollum, 58, died last July from injuries his body sustained after being forced to stay in the Hutchins County Jail without air conditioning during the sweltering Texas heat. According to the news reports, McCollum had a body temperature of 109 degrees by the time they got him to the hospital. Because of some procedural rigamarole, McCollum had no fan to help with the heat there at the Hutchins County Jail and he had no cup to use to drink water. (He was serving a short term for forgery.)

That’s right: the prisoners in Texas jails don’t get a cup to use to drink water. They have to buy their own cups. Same thing for the fans. Not provided by the State of Texas. Since McCollum didn’t have his proper identification issued to him yet, he had to set there in the extreme heat and just deal with it.

Mr. McCollum lasted three days. Then he passed out from the heat, and died at the hospital six days later. The autopsy shows living in the extreme heat is the cause of this man’s death.

The Texas Civil Rights Project has filed a wrongful death suit this week based upon this case.


Other Men Have Died From Heat Exposure in Texas Jails and Prisons: It’s a Big Problem Here

The news media have begun investigating what is going on here in Texas, and the New York Times is reporting that not long after Mr. McCollum passed away, three more men died from heat exposure (hyperthermia, heat stroke) in the following three week period. One of these heat victims, an inmate also found passed out in his cell (this one over in Palestine’s prison), had a body temperature of 108 degrees at the hospital … this was his body temperature at three o’clock in the morning. Think about that: isn’t that early morning usually the coolest part of the summer day?

Federal Case Already Before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

The same organization that has just filed a lawsuit on behalf of Larry Gene McCullom has just finished oral arguments before the federal appellate court over in New Orleans on its 2008 lawsuit that was filed against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice on behalf of Texan Eugene Blackmon.

That federal court will be deciding issues of heat in Texas jails and prisons soon, as Mr. Blackmon has sued for heat exposure during his three year stint down in Beeville’s Texas prison facility. Blackmon did not die, luckily, but he alleged that the temperature in his prison cell reached 130 degrees in the summertime and that he suffered ailments because of this.

130 degrees… body temperature at 109 degrees.

It’s true that electricity costs money and there are lots of folk that don’t want to pay for inmates to get AC. However, people are dying here and while Texas has a death penalty, it’s not just to have these men and women suffering in this way.

Remember that McCollum had nothing to drink water from and no fan to even more the air around him.

Surely there’s a way to get containers so these people can drink some water on a hot day? If nothing more????

Posted by Michael Lowe at 1:16 pmNo Comments
Labels: Jail Watch, Orwellian Threats to Righ

Anonymous said...

I signed in anonymous because my son is incarceraated in Connally Unit and would be tortured for what I say

Lee said...

People,

IT WAS SARCASM!!!

Anonymous said...

I do not know about the Connally Unit but the Gatesville Units will torture the inmates, no questions asked!!!!

Anonymous said...

Torture

I know for a fact my mother was found to be possession of a drinking cup that was not on her property list. She was only trying to get a drink of water in her 130 degree cell. They put her on the rack and stretched her and then used the thumb screws on her. At the weekend visitation her knuckles were dragging the ground.

Anonymous said...

You do not have to tell me. This was at the Crain Unit!!!! They also hand cuff them to the shower heads and lock them in at the Reception Center on the Crain Unit.

Grandmom said...

I am so impressed with all your thoughtful, compassionate statements. They are all here, on paper where they can further inflame those of us who know the injustice and inhumanity of the "justice system". I urge you to make your comments where they may actually cause some changes - to the bi-annual meeting of the TBCJ - the prison board - Thurs. Aug 23 at the Sheraton Hotel 701 E 11th St in Austin. Sign up to speak before 8:45am and you will be called at the end of the meeting for public input. You each should put down a different topic on the sheet as the sec. will combine topics and cull the speakers down to a fraction of those speaking. I say numbers may make a difference. So, come one, come all. Also, those of you in Austin, attend the TIFA Texas Inmate Family/friends meeting tomorrow, Mon. Aug. 6 at Sunrise Community Church 4430 Manchaca Rd. just S. of Ben White at 6:30. Don't mourn - organize!

Anonymous said...

Granmom.... aka papa?
When was the last time TIFA filed a law suit on behalf of ANY prisoner?>
Thehe TBCJ identifies "troublemakers" families, then prepares for revenge.
You are freaking afraid that these remarks will "inflame".... are you kidding?
These remarks CONFIRM what TDCJ, TIFA, and others pay lip service to or downright deny.
Sure, let's go and comment to the prison board. It's just like going to speak to the fox that guards the chicken coup and politely ask it that it does not kill any more of your chickens.
You are right: "don't mourn, organize!" ... my question: organize and do what? Shit only changes when the Feds get involved in Texas DOC.
The associations you mention pay only lip service... they are "very careful" not to rock the boat and remain politely compliant.
Grandmom..... go and take care of your grandkids! and, PLEEEASE, stop your sarcasm. I really do not appreciate your starting your post with:
"I am so impressed with all your thoughtful, compassionate statements...."
Who in the .... are you?

Anonymous said...

Grandmom said...
hey, no need to go to TBCJ meetings.
Do you know who are avid readers of Grits for Breakfast?
TDCJ employees, politicians, the feds and other "law enforcement" "officers".
They ALL know what the issues are...
their own Sunset Commission told them.
So, let's go and talk so that we can all make believe that they are listening.
Now I am truly impressed with grand-mom's passive-aggressive writings.

Sheldon tyc#47333 said...

Gatesville, I was there in the 70’s before TDC took it over. There was no AC. The facility is in a valley that gets great breezes. The buildings are all built and situated to take advantage of the breezes and in the hotter months fans were set up. There were drinking fountains that produced chilled water on every dorm. I’ve mopped the floors of almost every dorm out there, in the summer, and it wasn’t that hot.
However since TDC took over the place has fell into extreme disrepair. The lawn is pathetic and the construction that was done to facilitate the female TDC offenders appears as though cruelty in design was the one and only business rule. All that was done to architect the buildings to prevent suffocation has been destroyed by the local indigenous now backed by TDC.
Gatesville’s history is impregnated with battles to maintain a culture of cruelty to the state inmates who have occupied that valley. Where so many have failed to stop the Gatesville humanoids from child abuse the Feds thought they finely shut down that place in 1971. Out of fear that even more atrocities would be unearthed the state let the humanoids of Gatesville continue their behavior with the ladies of TDC. What else could generational practitioners of cruel and unusual punishment do?
The reason Hitler chose Poland to commit the murders of 10 million+ people is because the Polish citizens would be more acceptable to go along with it. Christianity is a religion where one of its core principals is to demonize others who don’t follow the same cult practices. It should be a no brainer to the person of average intelligence why little shit bergs like Gatesville whose reformatory opened in 1889 and Huntsville home of our states massive prison industry have mastered the art of schadenfreude. The good Christians are OK with it.
They say, their just criminals or Gypsys or Jews or whatever label their good Christian brain can justify so as projecting their soulless hatred against another human who is created in the image of Gd. The professed god of their particular brand of religiosity lets them dump responsibility for their cruelty on it absolving themselves of the atrocities they commit against the image of Gd. As the Saturday Night Live Kerch lady would say, how convenient.
When bitch slapped by a federal judge for their inhuman treatment they retaliate against the taxpaying citizens of this state. To work for the state is to truly be possessed by an enhanced sprit of entitlement.
To a spiritually aware person a drive through Gatesville will bring about an experience of heaviness and is said to be a spiritual darkness so thick you can cut it with a knife. Talk to the indigenous humanoids who occupy this town, they sound a lot like the Poles. Hitler and his Nazis thumped the bible just like some in Texas leadership and bureaucratic roles. Its powerful, it controls the foolish, brain washes the ignorant and most important, in Texas garnish’s the vote.
The construction that was done to facilitate the female TDC offenders appears as though cruelty by design was the one and only business rule. This is a place where the people have lived off the misery of others and have protected that livelihood at a cost most decent God fearing people couldn’t imagine. Gatesville is Schadenfreude at its finest and is an example of how this social disease can progress unchecked.

Anonymous said...

Apparently you have NEVER worked for TDCJ or know sh_ _ about it.
I HAVE been there.
#1- The harrasment issue is B.S. Would you harrass someone who has 83 of his homeboys standing right next to him?
#2- The filth issue is B.S.
Convicts are required to keep their cells clean as well as their pride compelling them to do so.
#3- Filthy Water? Lack of clean drinking water?
Where did that come from?
Convicts have sinks in their cells from which to get clean drinking water anytime they choose.
The barrel they receive koolaid, tea, etc. from during meals is cleaned before each use AND if someone accidentally puts any thing other than the dipper in it the entire barrel is scrapped.
Poor nutrition?-
The convicts eat THE SAME FOOD AS THE GUARDS AND WARDEN!
Overwhelmed Sensory Perceptions?-
Yes Maam, The convicts are all stuck in a hole in the ground that is Soooo
deep that we have to pump sunlight to them. Get Real!
Suicide?-
My prison - Coffield- population 4,100
convicts, sees an average of 2 suicides per year. I doubt the freeworld has that good of a track record per capita.
I could ramble on, just as you did, rebutting each fallacy that you allege, but then again I don't have a boyfriend in prison who I met through a lonely hearts club and who is going to marry me as soon as he gets out and we'll live in a fairy tale kingdom by the sea.
Coffield AND Proud of it!

Coffield said...

Another one with a penpal future prince charming husband.

Anonymous said...

To the last two lifers who posted:
Your lack of understanding and empathy is appalling. The tap water that comes out of the sinks is warm enough to make tea. People HAVE DIED from heat exhaustion there. 2 suicides a year out of 4,000 people is an extremely HIGH suicide rate. Statistics for the general population is 1 out of 200,000 and can be less in certain areas. Administration segregation is often filthy.
You just don't get it!
Harassment DOES happen and it has been well documented. Cameras happen to "break" at convenient times.
Guards do play mind games with inmates.
I appreciate the fact that you need to make a living; I do not appreciate that you are soldiers in a Nazi-like organization.
If what you state were correct, the Feds would NOT have supervised TDCJ for years AND the 5th Circuit Court of appeals would NOT have decreed that lawsuits can be brought forth.
By the way has anyone visited the Ferguson Unit? Isn't it a lovely place?
If you look at ALL the posts somebody posted a link to pictures of a prison in Texas: you can see how clean it's over there.
As to the food: the guards can eat before they get to work and after they leave. The inmates cannot and manage by purchasing junk food at the commissary just not to starve.
Somebody asked before:
"When was the last time an inmate had a fresh apple? A strawberry? Food made from scratch and not institutionalized canned junk?"
Don't try to defend the indefensible.
Texas prisons are NOT defensible. Too many incarcerated for too long in hellholes that lack humane treatment, chance at rehabilitation, and any hope to get out in decent shape.
The ONLY reason some things work out (and some things are better than they were 20 years ago) IS BECAUSE THE FEDS GOT INVOLVED.
You are so desensitized and brainwashed that your sense of civility has gone down the drain - if it was ever present.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8/09/2012 02:20:00 AM
You have never worked at the Crain Unit. There is no cold drinking water in one dorm, broken water fountain. I have seen guards personally haze inmates at visitation in front of visitors. Drinking barrel of water is warm when it gets there with no ice. Guards are in inappropiate relationships inmates. I could go on and on. Those dorms are living hell and any time an inmate is subdued, they are eventually taken to a emergency room, after a long and painful wait. They bring in warm water twice a day instead of every couple of hours. One day hopefully the FEDS will take over TDCJ again. The lowest life forms on this planet run these Texas prisons, no matter what you say. Face it, TDCJ is employment of last resort. You are not protecting the public. You are protecting your criminal activities. The only difference between you and the inmates is. You all employed at TDCJ have not been caught yet. Some people have family members down there being hazed and abused. I do not know about pen pals, but maybe you need one. No one in their right mind would go out with any of the TDCJ emloyees, I have seen.

Anonymous said...

Lee said...
Free healthcare, Free food, free bed, free electricity, free AC....almost tempting to go and commit a crime myself.

Leach a free ride off the rest of society while they slave in the trenches and bullpins (those that can find jobs anyway)...what a life

7/30/2012 08:47:00 PM
Go for it, get you some of what they enjoy

Anonymous said...

Lol....... u must have close family in prison....well unless u wrk there why dnt u get out of ur fantasy land....its a prison not a day care facility..... they all placed them selves there......now I'm not saying let inmates die but at the same time stop catering to them ... free citizens die of heat and there families dnt sue the county!

Anonymous said...

" free citizens die of heat and there families dnt sue the county!"
Did you just come out of a rock to show how deplorably ignorant and irrational you are? Thank-you. I do not need to comment.... your total ignorance of the law, of civility, of intelligent discourse is self-evident. That's the caliber of some morons we see in tdcj - not all, may I add.
Again thanks for validating our suspicions with a factual demonstration of exquisite ignorance.
Why don't you sue the school you attended and ask for your money back? You deserve it as you have no critical thinking skills at all.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: "No one in their right mind would go out with any of the TDCJ emloyees, I have seen."
U r right. They marry their cousins and each other, thus perpetuating a class of its own in rural tx

Anonymous said...

People work so hard to get to prison then they bitch.

Anonymous said...

you dont get it do you. dont do the crime if you cant do the time. and all that crap. how nice to sit in your frontroom and watch all the news about criminals and prison and not know a thing about what happens in prison. yes, the deserve prison.
yes, criminals deserved to be punished. ever seen a man get mauled to death in prison? a young guy get raped. taking a shower with a room full of guys and the back row is full of guys masturbating? you ever been forced to join a gang in prison and if not you are a dead man?
i didnt think so. you have no idea what prison is really like. the guy that was raped was in for selling a pound of marijuana to an undercover cop. the man in the shower got drunk and drove for the 3rd time. not hardened criminals forced in with vioelnt gangs and murderous other felons.
lets ratchet it up and put them in cells that hit 130 degrees for 51 days. imagine the thoughts they are thinking. ticking time bombs after years of that.
and now they are getting out on parole or discharging their sentences. they are now your next door neighbors, work mates or worse yet. predators in your big house neighborhoods. your daughters are not safe. your wives are not safe. these are not normal men and now they have been subjected to texas heat and face all the above i just mentioned.
they feel they were abused. and you did it to them.
they deserve punishment when they commit crimes. but that is not the way to treat human beings at any time. punish em but dont discourage the dog poop out of em. they will get back folks. give em the a/c.
bubba

Anonymous said...

I have a husband currently incarcerated for a non violent drug crime. TDC does NOT give you free healthcare. We had to pay $100 for him to go to a doctor. I could go on and on and on, but I won't!

Anonymous said...

For unfortunate reasons, I frequently need to communicate with people working for TDCJ. Once in a blue moon I come in contact with a person who cares, the next level is indifference. However, without question, most employees appear to thrive on the sadistic pleasure of causing as much misery as is possible to both inmates and their families. The system is sick, very sick.

Anonymous said...

Even aside from the health concerns, it is well documented in psychological research that heat increases aggression, hostility and violent tendencies. In fact, many of the journals reporting the effects heat has on aggressive motives and behaviors specifically suggest implementing climate control in prisons in order to reduce aggression related problems. I understand the argument that these inmates committed a crime and must now suffer the consequences but it just doesn't make sense practically to deprive the inmates of air conditioning, especially in a place as hot as Texas. A change like this would increase the safety of the inmates and guards alike. Inmate fights and aggressive acts on the part of COs would become less frequent and the overall tension in the unity would decrease. A safer environment may require less security which would offset some of the cost. I wouldn't be surprised if the expense of paying for the air conditioning was be made up by the reduction in medical costs as well as the cost of housing inmates who may have made parole had a heat induced skirmish not broken out. (Of course many factors go into this decision, but with a significant reduction in violence I would argue that more inmates would be reasonable candidates for parole.) Of course these benefits may not be large enough to convince anyone that air conditioning is a good idea but I'm certain that they would add up over time. Plus, in a situation with so many problems to alleviate I think any little bit can help. I often wonder why TDCJ doesn't take current research into account (or ignores it) when it could ultimately benefit everyone involved.

Anonymous said...

I am a correctional officer, a single-mother and have a college education. Yes, there are correctional officers with degrees. I did NOT become a correctional officer to abuse inmates. I became a correctional officer because I needed a JOB to support my family. A college degree in no way guarantees employment in your desired field. I am tired of the horrific and demeaning comments against us. Do you not realize that correctional officers are watched more closely than the inmates? Many of us feel inmates have more rights than we do. It is sad, but I carry on, because I need the employment. With regards to the heat, it is extremely hot and humid in the summer. My unit has ventilation systems in most areas and cooling in certain offender areas and office spaces. Yes, it is hot. Most offenders have fans and if they are indigent, they are still able to have the use of a fan. I know this to be true because I WORK THERE. Correctional officers routinely suffer from heat exhaustion. We are constantly moving and working. We do not have the option to lounge around and cool off like the inmates can. I work the night shift and the temperature still hovers over a hundred. The humidity exacerbates the heat. Many of us go home soaking wet in sweat. Many of us have potassium deficiencies and suffer from muscle cramps constantly. Occasionally, we pass out. On top of everything else, we must keep everything under control at all times. Keeping the offenders fairly content makes a correctional officer's job much easier. So what would be the point in being cruel? We would endanger ourselves, and possible receive a disciplinary for failing to perform our duties. Our job is to keep the offenders inside and away from society...to protect ALL OF YOU! Now back to the A/C issue. There is heat in the winter. No one freezes. Please. But, a cooling system would most certainly protect the health of correctional officers and offenders as well. It is torturous hell to work as a correctional officer in the summer. I would hate to lose my job because I died from complications of heat stroke. We are human beings and we deserve better.

Anonymous said...

I believe you just summed it up in a honest nutshell.
I see ignorance and unprofessionalism almost daily as a CO that actual tries to bring some refirmation with such an uneducated and corupt agency for the most part.
THE STORIES I COULD TELL...

Anonymous said...

I FEEL BAD MY BOYFREIND ONLY HAS ONE LUNG I HAVENT HEARD FROM HIM IN A WEEK AND WEARS COLECTOMY BAG , HIS AT HOLIIDAY ,AND LAST LETTER TOLD ME IT WAS VERY HOT , THE JUDGE THAT SENTENCED HIM IS UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR TEXTING IN COURT ,AND I KNOW IT WAS PERONAL AGANIST HIM... IM HOPING THEY TRANSFER HIM SOON ,AS I AM SORRY FOR ALL PRISONERS BEING HOUSED THAT WAY..IT IS SAD AND DISTURBING TO KNOW THE US ,TRATS HUMANS WORSE THEN ANIMALS , HOW CAN I HELP !!!

Anonymous said...

Those that are talking shit are slightly retarded! Yeah, they are where they are by their choice, but I can guarantee you that some of you talkin mess aren't real clean yourselves! Whether it be smokin your weed in secret, poppin your prescription pills behind closed doors, anything illegal you do, only difference between you and them is you haven't been caught yet!! Just cause they commit crimes doesn't mean they still aren't human (expect pediphils). There's a big difference between punishment and torture! I don't care what anyone does, it doesn't deserve to be slowly roasted from the inside out!! Well, there are some exceptions, even though it's not up to us to judge another!!

Anonymous said...

Thats tru I was there 4 years and im a girl I was innocent 19 year old

Alfred Montalbo said...

When being held prisoner in America by any local, state especially federal facilities operating as a legitimate government entity should not go past the borderline of being cruel and unusual in the conditions on which prisoners are held there is certain rules and regulations in which they must abide because the prisoner is at there mercy in turn they have no right to violate your rights as a human being it's not their place to get cruel simply because you put yourself there quote on guote