As summer temperatures begin to soar, the Texas Civil Rights Project and Austin lawyer Jeff Edwards filed wrongful death lawsuits against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the University of Texas Medical Branch, alleging that they failed to protect four prisoners who died from heat stroke, reports the Texas Tribune. The inmates were housed at the Gurney and Hodge facilities.
The lawsuits allege that all four men — serving time for nonviolent crimes — suffered from medical conditions that made them more susceptible to heat. Prison officials wouldn’t comment on the litigation but said they work to ensure the safety of prisoners during the hottest months of the year. The Gurney and Hodge facilities are “death traps,” charged Scott Medlock of the civil rights project.