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The Heat Crisis in Southern Prisons

Melting Street Thermometer

With summer right around the corner, it's typical for people to start turning on their air conditioning, setting up fans, and spending time by the pool to cool down. Southern states especially are no strangers to extreme heat, with temperatures regularly climbing well above 90 degrees during the summer months. Most of us are lucky enough to have the means to escape the scorching summer heat, however, this is not the case for those who reside in correctional facilities. Overcrowded rooms, outdated facilities, and poor ventilation are factors that could lead to unbearable conditions and potentially place residents at risk.


The consequences of this heat crisis go far beyond just physical discomfort. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Additionally, studies have shown that excessive heat can contribute to heightened tension and violence within prison environments, further threatening safety and security.


The heat crisis in prisons also raises serious human rights concerns, as it may infringe upon the fundamental rights of incarcerated individuals. The right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, as stated in the eighth amendment, is arguably compromised when residents are subjected to unbearable heat without any solutions for relief. Investing in infrastructure improvements, such as installing air conditioning throughout prison systems and improving ventilation systems, is essential to creating safer living conditions within prisons. Additionally, correctional facilities could implement heat wave preparedness plans and provide access to cool spaces and hydration stations to help control the risks associated with extreme heat.


The heat crisis in prisons not only poses significant health risks but also exemplifies the need for humane treatment of all individuals, regardless of their circumstances. Providing cooling solutions isn't just a matter of comfort and safety; it's about respecting the basic dignity and well-being of those who are incarcerated. Everyone deserves access to conditions that are safe and livable, and addressing this issue is a crucial step towards upholding the principles of fairness and decency within our justice system. By prioritizing the implementation of practical solutions to the heat crisis in prisons, we can work towards ensuring that no one is subjected to unnecessary suffering.