The Stillwater prison in Minnesota has resolved a matter regarding their inmates: ungodly heat conditions. The inmates refused to return to their cells in concern of the rising temperatures amidst the state-wide heat advisory.
The Department of Corrections said the incarcerated individuals at the prison unit indicated “dissatisfaction” with the lack of staffing inside the prison which limited their time outside of their cells. The department said the inmates were on lockdown because of the holiday weekend which restricted their access to recreation and even showers. However, according to the AP, inmates told local prison advocates they weren’t just upset with the understaffing.
They decided not to go back into their cells Monday morning because it was just too damn hot to be locked in a cinderblock cell all day.
Read more from AP News:
“My organization got calls from inmates who are actually inside” starting at 6:30 a.m., said Marvina Haynes of Minnesota Wrongfully Convicted Judicial Reform, whose brother is an inmate at Stillwater.
“This morning, they decided that they weren’t going to lock into their cells,” said David Boehnke of Twin Cities Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee.
Haynes, Boehnke and Cathy Stroud Caldwell said the inmate action was an impromptu response to unsafe conditions, including access to clean drinking water, which they say is reportedly brown in color. The department said those claims “about a lack of clean water in the facility are patently false.”
“They didn’t have time to organize and plan,” Haynes said. “It was just … we’re not going back to that hot cell with no drinking water and not being able to shower.”
It’s unclear what this “resolution” entailed but prison conditions have been an amplified concern amidst scattered prison protests and lawsuits filed by family members of inmates. The family of Thomas Lee Rutledge filed a federal lawsuit claiming Mr. Rutledge died after being “baked to death” in sweltering heat conditions.
More recently, inmates in the Texas Department of Corrections have communicated concerns about heat-related deaths or illnesses after being subject to temperatures of 90 degrees or above, per WUNC. A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice told New Republic there were no deaths inside the prison contributed to extreme heat. However, some state Democrats called for an investigation and expansion of air conditioning.
People found guilty in the eyes of the law are often written off by society as undeserving of basic human needs but one must wonder: if they weren’t sentenced to cruel and unusual punishment, why should they be subject to cruel and unusual conditions?