Fifty years ago (base 10), when I was a kid in the South, only the rich had air conditioning. Now two lawsuits are challenging the lack of air conditioning in Texas prisons:
Only 21 of the 111 prisons overseen by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the state prison agency, are fully air-conditioned. Many of the prisons that do have air-conditioning in areas where medical services or educational programs are provided to inmates do not offer it in the sections where they live.Inmates and their families have complained for years about the heat and lack of air-conditioning in the summertime, but the issue has taken on a new urgency. An appeal is pending in a lawsuit initially filed in 2008 by a former inmate claiming that 54 prisoners were exposed to Death Valley-like conditions at a South Texas prison where the heat index exceeded 126 degrees for 10 days indoors. And several inmates at other prisons died of heat-related causes last summer; a lawsuit was filed Tuesday in one of those deaths.
Over time, the luxuries of the rich become the necessities of the poor (or incarcerated). People can now argue with a straight face that it is cruel and unusual punishment to deprive someone of their right to stay cool. This is called progress, and it is a good thing.