2 Million Prisoners Face Severe Heat Danger

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According to a research paper titled “Hazardous heat exposure among incarcerated people in the United States,” published in Nature Sustainability, two million incarcerated people face heat danger. The study looked at 4,078 jails and prisons from 2018 to 2020.

The Hottest State –New Mexico?

Most of the heat danger was in the south. “State-run carceral facilities in Texas and Florida accounted for 52% of total exposure, despite holding 12% of all incarcerated people,” the authors wrote. Figures vary, but Capital B reports that 12,000 people have died from the heat in US prisons over the last 20 years. 

Grist points out that air conditioning is the answer to the fatal heat problem in prisons. Most states do not have air conditioning throughout their prison systems. 

Recent Heat Waves

In some southern areas, temperatures can rise well above 100 degrees F for days. The recent heat wave in the West in mid-June pushed some temperatures above 110 degrees. As it moved East, many areas had temperatures in the 90s for days. Weather experts expect several of these events to occur in July and August. 

The Nature Sustainability study pointed out that because prisoners are part of America’s marginalized population, the heat problems are not likely to be addressed. It would cost a huge sum to air condition hundreds of facilities.

Ultimately, the best solution is the one least likely to happen.

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