"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Thursday, July 9, 2015

No A/C for death row inmates at Angola, appeals court rules

Louisiana death row
Louisiana death row
Death row inmates at Louisiana State Penitentiary have lost their latest legal battle for relief from triple-digit temperatures inside their cells at Angola.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling Wednesday (July 8) against three inmates who argued the sweltering conditions on death row constitute cruel and unusual punishment. 

The death row inmates originally filed the lawsuit against the state in 2013, saying the conditions were unconstitutional. The suit alleged that heat indices, or measurements of how hot it feels, on death row had reached 172 degrees in 2012 and 195 degrees in 2011.

"I feel like I'm on fire or something," one of the three plaintiffs in the case, death row inmate Nathaniel Code, 57, testified in August 2013. "I mostly just try to be as still as possible."

Wednesday's ruling from the 5th Circuit's overturns U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson's December ruling. Jackson's ruling had prompted the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections to come up with a plan to cool off death row, which included installing air conditioning.

The death-row tiers are only heated and ventilated. The plan would have also provided inmate with chests filled with ice and allowed them daily cold showers.

The corrections department halted the implementation of those plans, though, when the 5th Circuit agreed to hear the state's appeal. The state had argued a ruling in favor of the death row inmates would result in required changes at correctional facilities in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi, and not just facilities that house death-row inmates. All of Louisiana's death row inmates are housed at Angola.

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Source: NOLA.com, Emily Lane, July 8, 2015
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