Texas’s prison system must provide safe drinking water to its inmates, a judge in Houston federal court ruled Thursday.
The Associated Press reports on a case that saw Texas fight all the way to court to continue supplying arsenic-laden water to prisoners— a position U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison wrote violates “contemporary standards of decency.”
In his 15-page ruling, Ellison wrote the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has been “deliberately indifferent” to the ongoing risk inmates at the unit face from prolonged exposure to “extreme heat” and from having to drink arsenic-laden water in order to reduce the risk from the heat. The drinking water at the Pack Unit has contained between 2 and 4½ times the amount of arsenic permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency, the judge said.
The prisoners have “demonstrated that (the prison system’s) current and ongoing conduct violates contemporary standards of decency,” Ellison wrote.
At least 20 prisoners have died indoors in non-air-conditioned Texas prisons from overheating since 1998, including 10 who died in 2011, Ellison said.
Other than fixing the tainted water, the prisoners asked for temperatures in the Wallace Pack Unit to be lowered to 88°F. See the aerial photo above: suburban Houston is hot, but it is not a desert.
American prisons are hell: violent rape camps operated by the depraved and indifferent, many of them private corporations. And these prisons are in Texas.