NEWTON, Texas (AP) — An East Texas county is offering a shuttered former private prison that’s air conditioned as a solution to a lawsuit filed by lawyers who argue inmates are being subjected to unhealthy heat at a state prison that does not have air conditioning.
Newton County Judge Paul Price has written U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison that the 900-bed lockup in his county along the Texas-Louisiana border is available. The Houston Chronicle reports the jail now owned by the county’s Public Facility Corporation has been closed since 2012.
Ellison is considering whether inmates at the Pack Unit near Navasota in Grimes County should be entitled to emergency relief from indoor temperatures that attorneys contend is harmful. Lawyers have said heat is responsible for the deaths of 22 Texas prisoners since 1998.