After a summer with record-breaking temperatures, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice released plans for air condition construction projects.
With Texas having its largest surplus in the budget, lawmakers gave the TDCJ an additional $85.7 million in 2024, on top of the $4 billion for its regular budget.
Per the department’s release, “this funding will substantially increase the number of cool beds available.”
It goes on to state that currently 42,500 cool beds are currently available, 4,509 are under construction, and another 11,445 are currently in design.
Currently, over 100,000 people are incarcerated in TDCJ prisons. With the number of cooling beds available now, that doesn’t cover even half of the number of inmates.
In KSAT Investigates previous coverage of the temperatures inside of Texas prisons, a TDCJ spokesperson confirmed the $85.7 million will also go towards air conditioning in units that are currently without air conditioning or are just partially cooled.
In 2018, it was made a priority to add air-conditioned beds and respite areas where prisoners can get access to cooler temperatures for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
A Texas A&M University Hazard Reduction & Recovery Center report released in July 2022 found that temperatures regularly reached 110 degrees inside prisons and peaked at 149 degrees in at least one unit.
This summer, Texas Tribune reported at least nine prisoners have died since mid-June while heat indices were triple digits outside.
For years, lawmakers have proposed changing current standards to require temperature standards inside of Texas prisons, however, none have succeeded.