A Right to AC

Claudia Reyes

August 18th, 2016
New York Times

A Louisiana prison is causing controversy because the third floor is very hot and almost unbearable for the inmates. Many of the inmates describe this as “miserable” and nickname their cells “sweatboxes.”  Local leaders argue that they do not want to “pamper inmates with air-conditioning,” they also argue that installing cooling systems in these prisons would cost them hundreds of millions of dollars.  Jim Willett, the director of the Texas Prison Museum and former warden at the state’s death house, does not sympathize with the inmates because he lived the first 20 years of his life in a house with no air conditioning and believes that “its hard to sympathize with anybody over air-conditioning. These prisons do offer a range of other things to substitute the fact that there isn’t air conditioning. This includes cold showers, plentiful liquids, and fans, to help prisoners manage the heat.”

This article is related to our “We The People” class because this article ties into the 8th Amendment which was discussed when going over the Bill of Rights. The 8th Amendment prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, fines, or cruel and unusual punishment. Another thing that could be applied from the “We The People” course is the fact that this is a good example of the Natural Rights Philosophy.

The Natural Rights Philosophy protects the people’s rights of life, liberty, and property.   This issue with there being no air-conditioning in the prison is important to me because I feel that even though these people are in prison they deserve at least the basics in life. Though in other countries having air-conditioning is a luxury, in the U.S. it’s a necessity in a way because almost everyone has air-conditioning. Not having an air-conditioner during the summer months in these prisons could cause medical issues for the inmates which could lead to lawsuits for the prison.


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