A federal judge is putting the Texas prison system on trial over suffocating conditions of extreme heat due to lack of air conditioning in the summer.
Between 1998 and 2011, at least 21 inmates died of heat-related illnesses in prison, with ten of them dying in 2011 alone. And that count only includes inmates whose cause of death was specifically and solely due to the heat, not deaths in which heat was a contributing factor. In 2012, the family of a man who died of hyperthermia in the Hutchins State Jail sued the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, claiming top officials’ indifference to the inhumane conditions of the prison led to Larry McCollum’s death in 2011.
According to the judge’s order, the prison had a heat index of 150 degrees the week McCollum died.