A federal judge has signed off on a plan by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to transfer sone one thousand inmates who are 'ill or elderly' from a prison without air conditioning to one that has it, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The agreement was part of the settlement of a lawsuit filed by Austin attorney Jeff Edwards, alleging that in 2017, being forced to live without air conditioning is 'cruel and unusual punishment' under the U.S. Constitution. Edwards says it is cruel and unusual not just for these men, but for every inmate in every unit, and his fight will continue.
"It is not fair for any of the inmates to be living in these conditions," Edwards told News Radio 1200 WOAI. "And this is why this is not the end of our case."
The inmates will be moved from the Pack Unit near College Station to several prisons which are air conditioned. They will be returned when the weather gets cooler.
"The inmates are human beings with moms and dads and children," Edwards said. "They ought to be treated humanely."
About three quarters of the facilities holding some 150,000 prisoners across Texas do not have air conditioning, and the issue of housing inmates in facilities that can easily reach 120 degrees or more in the summertime has been bouncing around for decades.
The state says many of the units were built before air conditioning of buildings was invented, and retrofitting these 80 to 120 year old prisons would cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.