Thursday, August 29, 2013

TDCJ guard union joins inmate litigation over excessive heat

You might not think prison guards and inmates have much in common, but on the question of too-hot prisons they've found a mutual interest. Reported Mike Ward at the Austin Statesman ("Guards to join convict litigation over hot state prisons," Aug. 29):
The union that represents Texas’ correctional officers on Thursday announced its support for lawsuits filed over the deaths of at least 14 convicts in sweltering state prisons, saying the lockups should be cooled to relieve unbearable and dangerous conditions.

At a time when civil-rights lawsuits are pending in several Southern states, where the summer heat is hottest and most state prisons are not air conditioned, the development could add new impetus to a public debate in Texas over whether the time has come for some form of cooling systems.

At a press conference in Austin, Lance Lowry, president of a Huntsville-based local of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, said the union plans to join in pending litigation — including a possible request for federal court intervention over temperatures inside prisons that he said can reach 130 degrees on some days.
The article closed with details of the guard's complaints:
A temperature log at the Hutchins State Jail outside Dallas shows heat indexes of 150 degrees July 19, 2011, among other readings reaching well over 100 degree at other times that same day. In general, the outside air temperatures recorded at those times were about 10 degrees cooler.

For Lowry and other Texas correctional officers, working in temperatures that hover around 100 degrees in summer months is too much — especially for correctional officers who are on heat-sensitive medication, are obese or have hypertension and other health issues.

“It feels like you’re working inside a convection oven,” said Lowry, a 13-year veteran. And the large fans that have been installed in prisons, “just blow hot air … . The noise can drown out cries for help, even calls on the radio.”


Anonymous said...

Hurrah and good on them - nice to see TDCJ guards speaking up and out about this issue! It is a start

Anonymous said...

The correctional employee's have been speaking up and have made positive changes. The correctional union has been targeting the prison population growth and sought the closure of three prisons so far. The employees realized several years ago the massive expansion of the prison system was going to cut into funding needed to properly run the facilities and pay staff. The employee's union has quietly lobbied in the Capitol for the last several years and has been stepping up prison reform issues.

With the 5th Circuit Court ruling this summer on prison heat issues, TDCJ administration will face a losing battle against their own employees, as well as the inmates.

Anonymous said...

It's always good to read that someone is listening!! It is inhuman to let these men and women suffer and die. Texas should be ashamed of this treatment, being locked away is punishment. Having to endure having everything taken away, is punishment. You shouldn't have to suffer and often die because of neanderthal mindsets and units without a/c and bad heating systems for winter. We should all file lawsuits for torture of TDCJ inmates and CO's.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous... I agree with 4:31; where can we as citizens gt active in this issue both for officers and most of all prisoners... It is INHUMANE!!

Angee said...

There is so much that we on the outside can do. Public support is badly needed. Someone needs to see up a forum for CO's and their families,the loved ones on inmates and every other person that recognizes the need for change. My mind is filled with ways to help. If a working group is set up I will be there.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, if just one of the 14 (reported) preventable deaths was a C.O., the A/Cs' would have been trucked in over night.

*you don't get a Stop sign just because you have an intersection, you have to have some deaths recorded to justify.

Anonymous said...

Note: to Texas C.Os'., Quit in mass (in writing with two weeks notice and that it's based on deadly workplace enviorment hazards and you agree to report for duty upon rectification) and CNN will have vans on the Walls Unit front lawn within 8 hours. *Send copies to everyone.

Don't consider a walk out due to security reasons, but to stay on and play games is equal to being part of the problem. Don't take any frustraitions out on the humans in your care. Remember this, they'll eventually get out and you can bet that they won't forget you.

Why in the Hell you all waited this long to get on the bandwagon is beyond reason. Like it or not, you are doing time right along with the humans in the cages.

Anonymous said...

Yo Angee, I think they already have a website with a forum?
Something like - Backdoor or Sally Port or Unarmed & Dangerous.

Sounds like you are good people. One that just learned about an issue that's been ignored for many decades. I hope you share your ideas and who knows it may save a life or two.

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I heard about 14 deaths.

Anyone having some spare time is asked to consider providing a list of the deceased and the Unit they where assigned to alogn with dates.

Anonymous said...

The State of Texas, DOCJ should be forced to have their air conditioning taken from them. Those inmates should be allowed the basics of life, including air conditioning in the summer. Death of the inmates because of the excessive heat is not God's plan.
These are human beings and should be treated better than the hogs TDCJ make sure have air conditioning. This sure makes Texas look like they are inhuman. Mr. Bell and the other Directors should be ashamed of them selves. If they treat animals better than human beings, their day of reporting to God will be justified. Gov. Rick Perry lost the respect of people all over the world because he is allowing all those heat related deaths. Who would vote for a president of the USA who has such a record? This must be a joke!!!!! I have relatives who live and work in Texas and they are ashamed at the way inmates are treated!!!!!Wake up TDCJ, release some more inmates that have been there over 20 years, get air and decent water in your prisons. One day those inmates will be released!!!!!