BATON ROUGE, La.: Death row air conditioning rare in South - Politics Wires - MiamiHerald.com
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Triple-digit heat indexes experienced by three convicted murderers suing officials at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola are similar to the conditions endured by inmates on Death Row in Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
But condemned prisoners in Arkansas have air conditioning and Arkansas prison policy calls for summertime cell temperatures ranging from 74 to 78 degrees.
"We started putting air conditioning in our older units in the late 1970s," said Shea Wilson, spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Wilson said all state prisons in Arkansas now have air conditioning for all inmates.
"I'm glad to know that at least one state recognizes the need to treat prisoners like human beings," said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana.
The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/19GrCSo) New Orleans nonprofit The Promise of Justice Initiative filed suit about conditions on Louisiana's death row on behalf of three inmates. According to the suit, a heat index of 195 degrees was experienced at Angola in 2011 and an index of 172 degrees occurred last year.
Angola Warden Burl Cain testified last week that he doubts the super-high heat indexes are accurate. He said prison officials believe inmates deliberately manipulated Death Row thermometers in ways that falsely enhanced temperature readings in past years.
Temperatures recorded at Angola in July and August 2011 "consistently ranged from 88 . to 100 degrees," according to a court filing by Mercedes Montagnes, deputy director of the New Orleans nonprofit.