TEXAS (September 20, 2013) - An unlikely friendship between Texas prison guards and inmates, they are uniting in a possible lawsuit against the state's prison system.
Lance Lowry, president of the local American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees said they support litigation against the Department of Criminal Justice for temperatures inside prisons that can reach 130 degrees on some summer days.
Most Texas prisons are air conditioned only in administrative and some treatment areas.
"All TDCJ facilities are accredited by the american correctional association; air conditioning is not required by the ACA. TDCJ does not discourage employees from filing workers compensation claims for any reason," Jason Clark, TDCJ spokesperson, said.
Lowry said 14 inmates have died in prison due to heat related illness since 2007.
In a press release, TDCJ said they do not believe summer conditions are dangerous.
They said the well-being of it's staff and offenders is a top priority and they remain committed to making sure both are safe during the extreme heat.
TDCJ also said inserting AC units into the facilities would be very expensive.
"Although a detailed cost analysis has not been done, retrofitting facilities with air conditioning would be extremely expensive," Clark said. "It should be noted that medical, psychiatric and geriatric unites are air conditioned."
The Texas Civil Rights Project has filed a wrongful death heat lawsuit against TDCJ.
The department declined to comment on the case.
State law requires that all jails keep an inside temperature between 65 and 85 degrees, but that law doesn't apply to state prisons.