Wrongful Death Lawsuits against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Although there is some dispute as to who said it the movie Con-Air, and many others, have attributed the following quote to Fyodor Dostoevsky; “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” I think there is a clear application when it comes to its application to the sweltering heat in Texas Prisons. It is sad that change may only occur as a result of a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of thirteen inmates who died as a result of heat related prison conditions.
The men who died were incarcerated for nonviolent offenses, serving short sentences, and had health conditions that increased the risks associated with excessive heat. These men had families and people looking forward to their release. They had not been sentenced to long sentences let alone death. Some people seem to say that when these they broke the law they traded their right to complain about conditions. It seems to me the choices are not club med or a heat index of over 130 degrees. As a society when we take someone’s freedom we also take some degree of responsibility. And while people can disagree about what that responsibility should entail I would hope that most would agree it would include insuring that inmates do not live in a place where simply sitting and breathing could lead to death.