Texas prison officials told a federal judge they will temporarily move 1,000 inmates to air-conditioned facilities to comply with a court order requiring relief for heat-sensitive prisoners, reports the Austin American-Statesman. U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison required the state to provide relief when the interior of the Wallace Pack Unit prison reaches a heat index of 88 degrees or higher. Temperatures didn’t have to be comfortable, the judge said, just low enough to avoid injury and the prospect of cruel and unusual punishment. After considering its options, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice determined that moving the prisoners was the best short-term solution, spokesman Jason Clark said.
A different long-term solution will have to be found, Clark added, because temporarily relocating the prisoners every summer isn’t a sustainable option. The Pack unit includes a medical facility for elderly inmates and others with chronic medical conditions who are particularly susceptible to heat-related injury. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has vowed to appeal Ellison’s ruling, saying it could cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars to install air-conditioning systems.