Texas May Have to Report Temperatures in Prisons to Legislature

Heat at Texas Prisons
Heat at Texas Prisons

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice may soon have to report to the Legislature the temperature inside TDCJ’s un-air conditioned prisons during the summer months.

On Wednesday, the House proposed an amendment to the proposed state budget which would require the TDCJ to log the temperatures inside prison cells and housing areas in all TDCJ-run non-air conditioned prisons and jails every day at 3 p.m. between April and September.

The amendment filed by Joe Moody was tentatively adopted into the budget during a subcommittee meeting.

Almost 75% of the state-run prisons and jails do not have air conditioning in the housing areas. There have been at least 23 heat-related deaths in the Texas prison system since 1998.

If the amendment remains in the budget, it will require the prison system to give the internal temperature logs to the Texas Legislature in an annual report. The report would also include inmate complaints related to temperature, deaths caused by or exacerbated by temperature, and agency procedures used to manage the heat inside the prisons.

The proposal still needs to make it through the full Appropriations Committee and both the House and Senate to go into effect.