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In U.S. Jails, a Constitutional Clash Over Air-Conditioning


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In U.S. Jails, a Constitutional Clash Over Air-Conditioning

By ALAN BLINDER

 

AUG. 15, 2016

JENNINGS, La. — The air inside the Jefferson Davis Parish jail was hot and musty. Prisoners, often awakened by the morning heat, hoped for cooling rain after nightfall. And ice, one inmate recalled, brought fleeting relief in the cell she called a “sweatbox.”

Even though summer temperatures routinely roar past 100 degrees here, the jail, like scores of other jails and prisons across the country, has no air-conditioning.

“It’s hot,” Heidi Bourque, who was locked up this month for theft, said of the jail as she sat in her home, where the glowing red digits of the living room thermostat showed the temperature as a chilling 62. “It’s miserable.”

Her complaints are unlikely to move local residents, who approved funding to build a new jail after local leaders promised two years ago that it would not pamper inmates with air-conditioning. But they speak to a broader debate about the threshold for when extreme temperatures become cruel and unusual punishment. Scissors-32x32.pnghttp://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/16/us/in-us-jails-a-constitutional-clash-over-air-conditioning.html?_r=0

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