HOUSTON — The Latest on a federal court hearing on a lawsuit filed on behalf of six inmates of a Southeast Texas prison alleging the prison’s lack of air conditioning was potentially deadly (all times local):
A federal judge who found the oppressive heat at a Texas prison threatened the health of many of the inmates has agreed to the state’s plan to temporarily move the some 1,000 prisoners to cooler lockups.
U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison ruled last month in a lawsuit from six inmates who argued they were subjected to cruel and unusual punishment at the Wallace Pack Unit, a state prison near Houston where it sometimes feels hotter than 100 degrees (38 Celsius).
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice proposed housing the inmates in climate-controlled state prisons in Austin and Diboll until the summer heat subsides.
Ellison endorsed the plan at a court hearing Tuesday and state attorneys said the transfers would take about three weeks and begin before daybreak Wednesday.
Lawyers will get their chance to respond to Texas’ plan to move about 1,000 inmates from an unbearably hot prison to one of the two other lockups in the state.
U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison ruled last month that the conditions inside the Wallace Pack Unit amount to cruel and unusual punishment and ordered that inmates with certain health conditions or who are at least 65 years old be transferred or housed elsewhere in the prison where temperatures don’t exceed 88 degrees (31 Celsius).
The heat index inside the prison about 65 miles (105 kilometers) northwest of Houston sometimes exceeds 100 degrees (38 Celsius).
The state Department of Criminal Justice has proposed temporarily housing the inmates in climate-controlled state prisons in Austin and the East Texas city of Diboll.
The inmates’ lawyers will get to respond to that plan during a hearing Tuesday.