As a heat wave swept from central U.S. to the east coast over the weekend, New York City took precautions to keep its residents safe, such as opening cooling centers, allowing longer usage of pools and beaches, and cancelling major events.
However, many incarcerated at New York’s Riker’s Island jail complex and other detention facilities were not fully protected from the extreme temperatures.
At least three public defenders took to Twitter to inform the public that those incarcerated at Rikers did not have air conditioning during the heatwave, reported Yahoo News. Some even said that fans were turned off as a form of punishment.
The Brooklyn Defender Services tweeted that fans were turned off as punishment for prisoners who took their shirts off, reported the Huffington Post. They said that the Department of Corrections does not supply summer clothes for many incarcerated at Rikers. Some only have long johns to wear.
Those incarcerated at Rikers have died from heat in the past, according to RT News. In 2014, a prisoner there died in his cell as a result of malfunctioning heating equipment.
In response, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio, who declared a heat emergency, said proper clothing has been provided and ice, water, and fans were given to facilities on Rikers without air conditioning. However, many prisons across the state still lack air conditioning, RT News reported.