Most people would agree that prisoners deserve safe living and housing conditions. However, this is not the case in most prisons and jails in the US, as most do not have air conditioning, which is essential for humans’ health, especially during extreme temperatures. Most prisoners complain of intense heat during summer, with some being exposed to the danger of suffering heat-related illnesses. Prisoners all over America complain that they are forced to persevere with conditions that are likely to harm their health, such as extreme heat or cold. Blinder explains this situation: “Inmates’ lawyers and doctors described similar conditions inside other jails across the South, and some said that temperatures endangered the lives of prisoners with health problems.” The conditions in most jails and prisons include the lack of air conditioning which exposes prisoners to great heat. Some prisoners, especially those with health issues, have to get their doctors and lawyers to advocate for them to be placed in cells with air conditioning, which is a medical necessity. Prison reform advocacy focuses on inmates’ rights and well-being, including their environments while in jail. The advocacy is guided by the US Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which prohibits incarceration in extreme heat or cold. However, prison officials justify the lack of air conditioning and claim that prisoners should utilize cold showers and the availability of fans and plentiful liquids to manage the heat. Additionally, the officials claim that installing cooling systems is prohibitively expensive, especially in older facilities. Nevertheless, inmates have human rights like others; thus, their rights should not be violated even though they are incarcerated for committing crimes against society. Specifically, prisoners have a right to be enclosed in rooms fitted with air conditioning and fit for their health as they serve their punishment for the crimes they committed. Furthermore, their health should be prioritized and not the punishment they are serving.
Blinder, Alan. “In U.S. Jails, a Constitutional Clash Over Air-Conditioning.” The New York Times, 2016.