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After 19 Die From Heat in Prison, Lawmaker Says ‘Texans Don’t Want Air Conditioned Prisons’

After a University of Texas study found that 19 inmates have died from extreme heat inside Texan prisons, one lawmaker is defending the state’s stance on temperatures inside the prison saying “Texans don’t want air conditioned prisons.”

John Whitmire, who heads the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, said “We need to have a grown-up discussion of what’s practical and reasonable and what’s politically acceptable. But I can tell you, the people of Texas don’t want air-conditioned prisons, and there’s a lot of other things on my list above the heat. It’s hot in Texas, and a lot of Texans who are not in prison don’t have air conditioning.”

Lance Lowry, the President of the Local American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees argues that “Our state places a greater emphasis on protecting its bacon than protecting the inmates and the officers in the state of Texas, and that’s sad. I have never worked in an environment where I’ve seen my co-workers fallout from everything from heart attack to strokes, and these conditions greatly affect that. We pride ourselves on being tough. Unfortunately this is being tough in the wrong area.”

Attorney Brian McGiverin adds “Every year, like clockwork, the incredible heat in Texas prisons in killing people.” Ariel Dulitzky, who headed the Texas University study, notes “We say that this is inhuman, degrading treatment, but it’s a question of severity. So we feel that this is close to torture, but we don’t call it torture.”

Jeff Edwards, an attorney representing the families of eight inmates who died from the heat, says “Heat stroke, unlike almost any other illness that people die from in prison, is completely preventable. All you need to do is lower the temperature. And they’ve chosen not to do that.”

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Igor Derysh is the Managing Editor of Latest. com and a syndicated columnist whose work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald, Baltimore Sun, and Orlando Sun Sentinel, and AOL News. His work has been criticized in even more publications. Follow him on Twitter @IgorDerysh