A lawsuit was filed in 2014 by several incarcerated people in Texas regarding the lack of air conditioning in prison facilities. They declared keeping people in over 100-degree weather as cruel and unusual punishment.
It took a few years for the state to agree to keep temperatures below 88 degrees. Finally, temporary air conditioners were installed in 2018. But since then, prisons have violated the orders multiple times by, for example, not been reporting when air conditioners were broken for more than 24 hours. Imprisoned people have also said they aren’t given services like ice water during those times.
These types of violations were used as evidence for a new bill that would require temperatures to be between 65 and 85 degrees. That bill was, however, put on pause until 2021 to give them time to get a better estimate of the cost. Until then, the heat continues. At least two dozen heat-related deaths have occurred in Texas prisons since 1998. And at least 56 heat-related illnesses were reported in 2019.