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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Texas prison guards to join inmate lawsuit over sweltering jails

Fox NewsTalk about unlikely bedfellows.

The union that represents Texas’ correctional officers has reportedly announced its support of lawsuits filed over the deaths of at least 14 inmates in sweltering state prisons, claiming the institutions should be cooled to relieve unbearable conditions.

Lance Lowry, president of the local American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, said the union intends to join pending litigation, including a possible request for federal court intervention over temperatures inside prisons that purportedly reach 130 degrees on some summer days, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

“These conditions are dangerous to both the employees and the inmates,” Lowry said, noting that it’s highly unusual for officers and convicted criminals to agree on litigation against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. “It’s time for the state to modernize its system … at least to comply with its own standard for county jails that say the temperature can’t exceed 85 [degrees].”

Brian McGiverin, an attorney for the Austin-based Texas Civil Rights Project, said having correctional officers behind the push for air-conditioning systems to be installed could be the final straw to making it a reality, despite the fact that the union has a small membership among the 30,000 correctional employees at 109 state prisons throughout the state. continue reading...

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