Extreme Temps At Texas Prisons Must End

The post has been updated - see below:

Most Texas prisons remain un-air conditioned which is of course a major problem in the sweltering heat of any given Texas summer. They also have inadequate heating which is just as much of an issue given bouts of cold weather in our winter season.

Being cold in the winter is something inmates and guards regularly endure in a prison system where buildings date back to the 1800s, according to Cheri Siegelin, president of the Huntsville chapter of the Texas Correctional Employees Union.

“The fact remains that a lot of the infrastructure of a lot of these prisons are old. Some of them are not meant to be in operation as long as they have been,” she said.

For more, read: Relatives report inadequate heating at more than 30 Texas prisons

Back in 2017, a federal judge ordered one facility to work to bring rising heat temperatures in their prison down as it put elder and high risk individuals in danger. The injunction also ordered the department to implement a plan of action for heat waves, citing the heat-related deaths of at least 10 TDCJ inmates during a heat wave in 2011. Still, that was just the one facility where action was court ordered.

Elderly, disabled and “medically sensitive” inmates — including those with heart disease, diabetes and obesity, or those taking medications like anti-psychotics that impair the body's natural cooling system — should be protected from extreme heat.

For more, read: Heat is part of life at Texas prisons, but federal judge orders one to cool it

Extreme temperatures at Texas prisons needs to be an issue we address this legislative session and right now there are two bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, that need to be heard in their respective committees.

For the latest development in the Texas legislature on this issue, see: Texas may soon have to report the temperatures inside its uncooled prisons

ACTION for 3/11/2019:

UPDATE: HB 936 has its hearing on Thursday, March 21st — Contact committee members (see links below) to voice support for this bill!

There are 3 ways you can take action this week in support of efforts to raise awareness on the conditions being dealt with inside the Texas prison systems. We're asking you to first contact members of the House Corrections Committee and then contact members of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

Urge committee members to support HB 936 and SB 321. Both of these bills are aimed at addressing the temperature at which these buildings must be maintained and will work to better conditions for inmates and those who are at high risk inside Texas prison units.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice can absolutely be doing more for the people living inside the prison system and we must call upon our legislators to support bills that will make it so!

--> Contact members of the House Corrections Committee and tell them you want to see a hearing for HB 936!
Contact Chair - Rep. James White
Contact Vice Chair - Rep. Alma Allen

--> Contact members of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and tell them you want a hearing for SB 321!
Contact Chair - Sen. John Whitmire
Contact Vice Chair - Sen. Joan Huffman

--> Finally, if you are able to, please attend Texas Prisons Air-Conditioning Advocates' "Beat The Heat Awareness Day" event this Tuesday, March 12th and help advocate at the Capitol for these two bills! Learn more HERE.

Check out other ongoing action alerts here:
HB 255 - Complete Count, Census
HB 104 - Stop Prison Gerrymandering
HB 375 - Polling Place On Campuses
Support Common Sense Gun Legislation
Redistricting Bills Must Have Their Day In Committee!
Licensed Professionals + Student Loan Debt
Speak Against School Marshal Program Expansion And Access Bills
HB 361/SB 734 - Online Voter Registration