Heat revives debate over lack of prison air conditioning

Advocates and family members of prisoners say Texas' practice of housing felons without air conditioning should end


Cox Newspapers via Chattanooga Times Free Press

AUSTIN, Texas — Four scorching summers ago, convict Eugene Blackmon and dozens of other prisoners baked inside a South Texas prison, in temperatures that an expert later calculated at 134 degrees, Blackmon alleges in a lawsuit.

Last summer, Larry Gene McCollum, 58, who suffered from hypertension and weighed 345 pounds, died from hyperthermia at a state lockup outside Dallas. When medical personnel at a hospital measured his body temperature, it was 109.4 degrees — more than 5 degrees higher than the life-threatening level.

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