Texas prisoners say their food is melting in front of them as they face horrifying heat in prisons with no AC

  • Texas prison inmates have been battling scorching conditions as a relentless heatwave bakes the south.
  • More than half of Texas’ state prisons do not have air conditioning in living areas.
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Prison inmates in Texas — where more than half of the state’s prisons don’t have air conditioning in living areas — are enduring scorching conditions as a relentless heatwave continues to bake the southern United States.

One woman being held at a prison in the Lone Star State said that the conditions are so unbearable from the heat that candy melted before her eyes.

“It is so hot — like, if I put candy on my table, it will melt even if my windows are covered,” 24-year-old Kiera Henderson told Texas Public Radio in a report published on Wednesday.

Henderson, who is incarcerated at the Dr. Lane Murray Unit in Gatesville, told the news outlet by email that she has asthma and that the “heat has [taken] a toll on me mentally because I feel as I can’t think straight, and I get angry.”

Another inmate at a prison in the state told Texas Public Radio that the heat inside the facility feels like “you’re standing over a grill all day.”

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The unidentified inmate said that he tries to keep cool by drenching himself in water.

“The lower you are, the cooler it is, so I put water on my ground and lay in it sometimes. It’s just me pretty much naked in the cell,” he said.

Data from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which manages the state’s prison system, showed that 68 of Texas’ 100 prisons without AC had average temperatures well over 85 degrees last month, Texas Public Radio reported.

Temps at some of the prisons reached over 90 and 100 degrees, according to the data.

This week, advocates and family members of inmates called on officials to put air conditioning in Texas prisons as a heatwave sizzles the state.

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“It’s inhumane,” state Rep. Carl Sherman said, according to the Austin American-Statesman. “This is not a political issue. This is a humanity issue.”

A spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice told Insider in a statement on Thursday that the agency takes “numerous precautions to lessen the effects of hot temperatures for those incarcerated within our facilities.”

“These efforts work,” the spokeswoman said, explaining that in 2023 so far there have been eight inmates who required medical care beyond first aid for heat-related injuries “and none were fatal.”

The spokeswoman added that all those incarcerated have access to water and ice and that “fans are strategically placed in facilities to move the air.”

“Inmates have access to a fan and they can access air conditioned respite areas when needed,” the spokeswoman said, noting that the agency has also increased its number of cooled beds over the years.

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“The agency recognizes that some inmates are potentially at a heightened risk of heat-related illnesses because of their age, health conditions, or medications,” said the spokeswoman.

She continued, “These individuals are identified through an automated heat sensitivity score that uses information from the inmate’s electronic health record. Individuals who have a heat sensitivity score receive priority placement in a housing area that is air-conditioned.”

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