Should Prisons Have Air Conditioning?

Despite these hot temperatures, most state prisons in Texas do not have air conditioning. Only 19 of the state's 112 prisons have a cooling system.

The rest, including several in the Amarillo area, are forced to get creative when it comes to beating the heat.

Clements Unit Richard Lara says, "At times it feels like you're sitting in an aluminum can." If you can't stand the heat, stay out of prison. Lara says, "They come by and check it with a meter every now and then, but if it's 101 outside, then it can get up to about 120 in here."

Inmates and guards alike are forced to get creative when it comes to beating the heat. Inmates Michael Lee and Wylie Bone have it down to a science. "They give you a big towel to dry off with, put that in water and put that on your shoulder... Sit still in front of the fan."

Inmates can buy a fan at the prison commissary for about 15 bucks. But there are other "stay cool" techniques they can access for free. Clements Unit Warden John Adams says, "We supply extra ice and water."

Lee says, "When you can get a cold glass of water, it really helps." Guards are trained to look for signs of heat related illness. Clements Unit GP Captain says, "We look for offenders that are pale, breathing heavy or having trouble breathing."

State Senator John Whitmire, the Texas Chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice committee says "it's part of the reality of going to prison. There are a lot of inconveniences to serving time." Several inmates we spoke with agree.

Bone says, "It's prison."

The Texas ACLU Chapter says they are not happy with the lack of air conditioning, but heat-related cases cannot go to court unless it's discovered that a prison employee knows about a problem and still refuses to give an inmate medical help.