GALVESTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – An advocacy group has sued the Texas prison system blaming 13 inmate deaths since 2007 on hot conditions in units without air conditioning.
According to an Austin-based newspaper, two wrongful-death negligence lawsuits were filed Thursday in Galveston by the Texas Civil Rights Project.
The federal lawsuits name the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, prison officials and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, which provides inmate care. Most Texas prisons are air conditioned only in administrative and some treatment areas.
Prisons spokesman John Hurt declined comment on the lawsuits. Hurt says prisons take summer precautions such as restricting activity during hottest parts of the day, providing water and ice in work and housing areas and training staff on heat-related illnesses.
Similar federal lawsuits filed in recent years remain pending. One of those lawsuits was filed by the family of Larry Gene McCollum, who suffered heat stroke while serving time at the Hutchins State Jail in Dallas. The 58-year-old was rushed to a Dallas emergency room, but died. When McCollum arrived at the hospital he reportedly has a body temperature of 109-degrees.
State law requires that all jails keep an inside temperature between 65 and 85 degrees, but that law doesn’t apply to state prisons.
(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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