Stop Torturing Inmates with Extreme Temperatures
  • Petitioning Texas Department of Criminal Justice

This petition will be delivered to:

Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Stop Torturing Inmates with Extreme Temperatures

    1. Samantha Herrington
    2. Petition by

      Samantha Herrington

      ft worth, TX

Nearly every summer since the summer of 2007, Texas inmates in prisons controlled by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) have died of heat-related causes, most notably the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions. 12 inmates have died since the summer of 2007, and numerous more have fallen ill, all because of extreme temperatures inside un-air-conditioned prisons. Of the 111 prisons run by the TDCJ, only 21 are fully air-conditioned, and those that are partially air-conditioned only provide air-conditioning in areas prison staff are located, like educational and medical rooms. Despite this, even prison employees are falling ill and fainting from the extreme indoor heats, which can reach over 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Such prison conditions are clearly unconstitutional and against the Eighth Amendment’s provision protecting against “cruel and unusual punishments” despite the common belief that inmates deserve what they get. No human deserves these conditions, including inmates and prison workers.

Jails, unlike prisons, are required by law to maintain interior temperatures below 85 degrees Fahrenheit; if prisons had similar laws over them, then deaths could be prevented. Prisons could also be required to offer free access to cool water and/or showers; the current policy is generally cool water 3 times per day and showers daily or every other day. In either case, a policy change is required for TDCJ prisons to stop violating Eighth Amendment rights. Such a policy change has already been proposed by former inmates and families of inmates that have filed lawsuits in cases of heat-related deaths and illness and the New Orleans federal appeals court has ruled that the conditions in TDCJ prisons are unconstitutional. Despite all that, the TDCJ refuses to change its policies. 

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 4,000 signatures
    2. In Texas, Arguing That Heat Can Be a Death Sentence for Prisoners

      Samantha Herrington
      Petition Organizer

      It has been revealed that there were not just four, but TEN heat-related inmate deaths last year during the Summer. TEN DEATHS:

      "Ten inmates of the state prison system died of heat-related causes last summer in a 26-day period in July and August, a death toll that has alarmed prisoners’ rights advocates who believe that the lack of air-conditioning in most state prisons puts inmates’ lives at risk.
      "The 10 inmates were housed in areas that lacked air-conditioning, and several had collapsed or lost consciousness while they were in their cells. All of them were found to have died of hyperthermia, a condition that occurs when body temperature rises above 105 degrees, according to autopsy reports and the state’s prison agency."

      Full NY Times Article:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/us/in-texas-arguing-that-heat-can-be-a-death-sentence-for-prisoners.html?pagewanted=all

    3. Appeals Court Rules Heat Can Violate Prisoner Rights

      Samantha Herrington
      Petition Organizer

      The US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that extreme heat can be a violation of prisoner rights:

      "In a case involving a 64-year-old former Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmate who suffered from hypertension and other medical ailments, the federal court in New Orleans held that allowing an inmate to be 'exposed to extreme temperatures can constitute a violation of the Eighth Amendment.' The case was remanded to the district court for a new trial."

      It seems that our cause is not so far off of a goal after all! This is why we need to continue raising awareness and spreading the word! Change will come with the right mixture of civilian outrage and judicial wisdom.

    4. Facebook Page for our Petition

      Samantha Herrington
      Petition Organizer

      Yesterday I made a Facebook Page for this petition. I'd like it to become a good public tool for sharing our cause with others, as well as a place where people can ask questions and post updates. Please click on "More at facebook.com" to access it, "like" it, and share it.

      Additionally, thank you to the folks who have donated money to help print flyers. In just one day we've gathered enough to print nearly 1000 flyers, and I have already started distributing the money to people across the state with the heart to help but without the personal funds to do so.

      I never thought we'd make it so far so quickly, and it's all thanks to you folks.

      -Samantha

    5. Printing and Passing out Petition Flyers

      Samantha Herrington
      Petition Organizer

      So the next phase of this petition is to get flyers passed out at various locations across the state. I have already sent templates of the flyer to people in multiple cities, but that's just half of it. The other half is funding the printing of these flyers, and it costs around $35 to print 300.

      For some that have volunteered to print and pass out, $35 isn't a significant amount of money, but for people like me, people who have to weigh the consequences of every purchase, $35 can mean the difference between eating Ramen for a while and eating healthy meals.

      So, to help, I have set up a fundraiser on PayPal to help people print and pass out flyers for our petition across the state of Texas. All I ask is that people who are able and willing donate any small sum they can. A PayPal account is not required, and it doesn't take long at all. If you cannot donate, please share with those who can. Please click on "More at paypal.com" to donate.

      -Samantha Herrington

    6. Reached 3,000 signatures
    7. Petition Flyers

      Samantha Herrington
      Petition Organizer

      Today I started working on flyers for us to hand out to local jails and courthouses. I have a draft made up that I am pretty pleased with, but I am going to have it approved by some friends sympathetic to the cause before I call it a final draft and make it available to people wanting to hand them out. Thanks again to everyone for your help and support!

      -Samantha Herrington

    8. Reached 2,500 signatures
    9. Update to Petition Letter

      Samantha Herrington
      Petition Organizer

      I have updated the Petition Letter to include the full text of the letter I plan to mail to the TDCJ's two headquarters this week. Thank you all for your input and your signatures! Please keep spreading the word!

    10. Reached 2,000 signatures
    11. Over 1850 Signatures!

      Samantha Herrington
      Petition Organizer

      I am overwhelmed by how quickly signatures are coming in this past day. Thank you again to all signers and sharers!

    12. Reached 1,500 signatures
    13. Over 850 Signatures!

      Samantha Herrington
      Petition Organizer

      Last night before going to bed, I posted an update that we had reached over 150 signatures; this morning I wake up to find we are at over 850! I am absolutely blown away. I know it due to all of you wonderful people who have passed this petition on to other people, and I want to say I am so impressed. It really is heartwarming to know that there are other people out there who care about the horrible conditions our inmates live in (some for the majority of their lives), especially conditions that are life threatening. Once again, I owe it to each and everyone one of you who have signed this petition, posted about it, emailed friends and family, or simply spread it by word of mouth.

      Thank you for speaking up for those whose voices are ignored.

      With Thanks,

      Samantha Herrington

    14. Reached 750 signatures
    15. Over 150 Signatures!

      Samantha Herrington
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you so much to everyone who has signed, shared, or recruited people to this petition. This issue hits home with so many Americans, because most of us can name a friend or relative who has been to prison, and to think that your loved one could be exposed to deadly heat without relief for months straight--it's frightening. For my part, my partner was in prison for a total of 2 years. During that time, he was exposed to dangerous bacterial infections, constant bites by brown recluses, and of course, death by Texas heat. He survived because he was young and healthy (other than all those infected spider bites), but not everyone in prison is. All inmates have a right to serve out their time and return to society, but the threat of death by heat stroke increases every year, especially for the chronically ill and the elderly.

      If you haven't already, please share with your friends. A few moments could trigger an avalanche of support.

      Sincerely,

      Samantha Herrington

    16. Reached 100 signatures
    17. 20 Signatures Reached

      Samantha Herrington
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you all for signing this petition, and an additional thanks to those who have already shared it with friends and family. To those of you that haven't I encourage you to at least share the link on Facebook/Twitter/ETC. It only takes a few moments, and it could really make a difference.

      Thank you all once again for taking a stand for human rights, and more specifically for the protection guaranteed these inmates under the 8th Amendment.

      Sincerely,

      Samantha Herrington

    18. Reached 10 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Denita Berry HOUSTON, TX
      • 22 days ago

      It is simply inhumane; that is why it is important to me!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • anita jones HOUSTON, TX
      • 24 days ago

      because i have been in prison and experienced this for myself and its true.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Lawanda Hicks HUMBLE, TX
      • 24 days ago

      My loved one is an inmate at Michael Unit and is very ill summer is coming up, he have seizures. i dont understand why the guards get a/c and the inmates suffer

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • michael Dixon HOUSTON, TX
      • about 1 month ago

      its too hot down there formal, They are killing way more people than whats being reported behind the heat down there.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Anita Kanitz STUTTGART, GERMANY
      • about 1 month ago

      The civilized have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their 'vital interests' are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death: these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the 'sanctity' of human life, or the 'conscience' of the civilized world.

      -- James Baldwin

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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