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Overheated Jail Cells Can Be Deadly

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The death of a New York City inmate in a 100-degree cell in February shows the dangers of overheated conditions in jails and prisons, an issue facing corrections officials nationwide.

As summer approaches, corrections officials throughout the country must deal with prisoners’ potentially fatal exposure to extreme heat.

Advocates say rising temperatures are a threat to an increasingly mentally ill and aging prisoner population. Experts say psychotropic medications make inmates sensitive to heat.

Lawsuits over heat conditions in jails and prisons have been filed in Arizona, Wisconsin, Illinois, Louisiana, Georgia and Delaware.

The Department of Justice doesn’t track heat-related incarceration deaths. A report issued last month by the University of Texas Human Rights Clinic found 14 Texas inmates have died from exposure to extreme heat since 2007.

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