For much of the summer of 2008, temperatures in Beeville, Tex., soared above 90 degrees. For almost two weeks, the heat index was 130 degrees or higher, in what scientists consider the “extreme danger” range, when the risk of heat stroke is imminent.
The heat was stultifying inside the C-8 dormitory of the Texas state prison in Beeville, which housed 54 men. The unit did not have any air-conditioning and the windows were sealed tight. Eugene Blackmon, an inmate, then about 63 years old with high blood pressure, said that the warden and others also turned on the unit’s heaters — and then failed to respond to numerous grievances he filed about the heat and its terrible effects on his health.
Last week, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit convincingly ruled that Mr. Blackmon could sue the warden and his team for endangering his health and violating constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. The Supreme Court has long said that while the Constitution “does not mandate comfortable prisons,” officials “must provide humane conditions of confinement.”
That includes protecting inmates from heat exhaustion, which can lead to headaches, nausea and other symptoms that Mr. Blackmon suffered. The prison said it provided relief to inmates as the appeals court required in a 2004 case: iced water, extra showers and fans. But often the prisoners did not have enough iced water, shower time or working fans.
A federal trial court rejected Mr. Blackmon’s lawsuit, saying there was no proof the heat in the prison caused health risks to anyone. The appeals court, however, found that there was a lot of proof that Mr. Blackmon’s health was severely affected. He certainly deserves the chance to convince a jury.
I cut the source off, New York Time 8/9/2012, Flo, PAPA