Constitutional Law

Extreme heat at Louisiana prison amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, rules judge

A federal judge has ruled that death row in Louisiana’s infamous Angola prison gets so hot in the summer that it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, the Associated Press reports.

U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson, who sits in Baton Rouge, ordered state corrections officials and the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola come up with a plan by Feb. 17 for keeping the heat index in the cells (to which the inmates are confined 23 hours per day) at no more than 88 degrees Fahrenheit.

Judge Jackson visited the prison, 60 miles from Baton Rouge, before ruling. The suit on behalf of three inmates who suffer from high blood pressure and other health problems was brought by the New Orleans-based Promise of Justice Initiative.

“We are grateful that the Court has recognized the gravity of the situation that our clients were facing,” said Mercedes Montagnes, deputy director of the Promise of Justice Initiative, in a release after the ruling. “This case specifically did not seek money. We only wanted the temperatures to be controlled to prevent serious health risks.”

Prison officials said the conditions in the summer were uncomfortable but safe. A Department of Corrections spokeswoman said the agency expects to appeal the ruling.

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