As Prisoners Die of Heat Stroke, Texas Justice Dept. Buys Air Conditioning for Pigs

Tuesday, August 20, 2013
(photo: Art's Way Scientific)

In Texas, where more than a dozen prisoners have died from heat stroke living in cells without air conditioning, the state corrections department has invested in a/c units for facilities used to raise pigs.


The agency contracted with Art’s Way Scientific, a company that builds animal housing, for $750,000 to purchase “prefabricated modular farrowing units and nursing pens for their swine production program,” The Huntsville Item reported.


Included with the units and pens are air conditioners to provide cool air for piglets that eventually will be slaughtered as part of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) agribusiness program.


The program operates and manages more than 141,000 acres in Texas and utilizes more than 6,000 inmates as supplemental labor. The livestock are used to provide meat for prison cafeterias, with extra supplies being sold in farm shops.


But prisoner rights activists were outraged when they learned air conditioning would be given to pigs and not inmates.


Scott Medlock, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project’s Prisoners’ Rights Program, told the newspaper, “It is outrageous that TDCJ would prioritize the safety of pigs raised for slaughter over the lives of human beings. TDCJ has literally made the decision that protecting its bacon is more important than protecting human lives.”


The Project has documented fourteen cases in which prisoners died of heat stroke between 2007 and 2012.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

TDCJ Pigs, but not Inmates, get Air Conditioning (by Stephen Green, Huntsville Item)

Texas Civil Rights Project Calls Prison’s Plan to Air Condition Hog Buildings “Outrageous” (Texas Civil Rights Project) (pdf)

Texas Pays for Private Prisons while Thousands of Beds in Public Prisons are Empty (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


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