Inmates in the Texas prison system raise pigs for consumption by prisoners. The six barns under construction will be equipped with large mister-installed fans and exhaust fans that will keep circulating the air and lower hot weather temperatures by up to 20 degrees. The barns will also have a heating system to keep the pigs warm during the winter.
The cellblocks have no such cooling systems. While summer temperatures can get as high as 120 degrees in many of the cellblocks, the prisons are not air conditioned. There are portable fans, but critics claim they only blow hot air around. In the past six years at least 14 inmates have died from heat-related illnesses. The corrections department is now faced with at least five lawsuits over the extreme heat that inmates suffer from.
Bryan Collie, deputy director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, insists that the barns are not air conditioned. He said, “It’s a climate-controlled environment consistent with the industry standard for swine operations.” Collie added that earlier swine facilities had the same cooling system and that comparing the conditions for inmates with those for hogs is “ridiculous and outrageous.”
Lance Lowry, president of the American Federation of State County Municipal Employees local chapter which represents Texas correctional officers, disagreed with Collie and called for the prison system to install the same cooling system that the pigs enjoy. He called conditions in the cellblocks “incredibly hot and dangerous.”
There’s something to be said for the barns. If they were not cooled down, the pigs would die. And without any pigs, the inmates would get no meat to eat.