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SmashMouth 06-11-2013 06:48 AM

Death row inmates sue Angola Prison due to extreme temperatures
 
Three inmates on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary filed suit in Baton Rouge federal court Monday against jail officials due to "appalling and extreme conditions...as a result of extreme heat" in the facilities. The lawsuit requests that corrections officials work with the warden and jail staff to mitigate "extreme and unsafe" temperatures and humidity in the Death Row facility at the penitentiary, which is more commonly known as Angola Prison.

The lawsuit, filed Monday on behalf of the inmates by the Promise of Justice Initiative, says the conditions prisoners suffer each summer violate the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Eight Amendment.
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The defendants are Department of Public Safety and Corrections and specifically its Secretary James LeBlanc, Angola Prison Warden Burl Cain and Death Row Warden Angela Norwood. The plaintiffs are Death Row inmates Elzie Ball, Nathaniel Code and James Magee.

According to the lawsuit documents, the heat index -- or how hot "it feels" -- on Death Row reached 195 degrees Fahrenheit on more than one occasion in the summer of 2011. Last summer, the index was above 126 degrees on 85 days between May and August.

The Advocacy Center, a non-profit organization offering free legal advice, obtained the heat index information through a public records request after being alerted to the temperature concerns by inmates about two years ago. Additional information was added by inmate and visitor anecdotes.

The lawsuit states Angola's new Death Row facility was constructed in 2008 and outfitted with duct work throughout to provide climate control. However, while visitation rooms, guard towers and offices are air-conditioned, the "tiers" occupied by inmates are only outfitted with fans that "merely blow hot air into Plaintiffs' cells," the suit said.

"During the summer, the bars of the cells are hot to the touch and the cinderblock walls release additional heat," according to the suit. Inmates choose to sleep on the concrete ground "because the floor is slightly cooler than their beds."

Additionally, clean drinking water is "contaminated with debris" and water from the showers "is scalding hot," sometimes exceeding 115 degrees during the summer months, the suit said.

All three inmates suffer from hypertension. Ball, 60, is a diabetic; Code, 57 has hepatitis; and Magee, 35, is treated medically for depression. Because of these ailments, all three are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Mercedes Montagnes, Promise of Justice Initiative's deputy director, said the suit was filed after Cain dismissed a letter from the group sent in April 2012 requesting the temperature concerns be addressed.

"They simply said they were monitoring the situation" and that the heat levels were "acceptable," Montagnes said Monday.

She restated the suit calls for these concerns to be mitigated by guaranteeing a heat index not to exceed 88 degrees, providing clean, uncontaminated ice and drinking water at regular intervals in the summer and providing shower water of a temperature that can supply relief from the heat.

Pam LaBorde, communications director for the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections, declined comment on the lawsuit Monday: "It's pending litigation so the Department will respond appropriately to the court."

All three men are on Death Row at Angola, the largest maximum security prison in the country, on murder charges. Of the over 5,000 inmates housed at the prison, less than two percent, or around 80 inmates, are on Death Row.

Code was convicted of killing eight people, including three minors, in the mid-1980s in Shreveport. Ball killed a beer delivery man during the course of carrying out a robbery in 1996 in Jefferson Parish. And Magee was convicted in 2007 of the shooting deaths of his wife Adrienne and his five-year-old son Zach near Mandeville, as well as the attempted murder of his two daughters.

"We don't expect prisons to be comfortable, but anyone who looked at these numbers or heard about the conditions would find them shocking, beyond what's conscionable," Nilay Vora, Associate at the Los Angeles-based firm Bird Marella, said in a Monday press release.

Angola is situated on 18,000 acres of farmland located around 60 miles northwest of Baton Rouge. It houses 5,149 prisoners and is the state's only maximum security prison. The prison is most commonly known for its controversial biannual prison rodeo.

Death row inmates sue Angola Prison due to extreme temperatures | NOLA.com

Mardigras9 06-11-2013 10:26 AM

Re: Death row inmates sue Angola Prison due to extreme temperatures
 
Well there is one way to stay out of that situation in the first place.

TheOak 06-11-2013 11:39 AM

Re: Death row inmates sue Angola Prison due to extreme temperatures
 
Send em to GetMo where there is proper ventilation.

QBREES9 06-11-2013 07:28 PM

Re: Death row inmates sue Angola Prison due to extreme temperatures
 
i don't get it. What the problem.

Boutte 06-12-2013 04:39 PM

Re: Death row inmates sue Angola Prison due to extreme temperatures
 
Spring for a couple of ACs for crying out loud. If you're going to keep them alive you have to be humane about and locking some one in a closed cell in La. in June, July and Aug is just plain cruel.

Or maybe they should lock them in an iron box and feed them bread and water.

saintfan 06-12-2013 05:05 PM

Re: Death row inmates sue Angola Prison due to extreme temperatures
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Boutte (Post 507845)
Spring for a couple of ACs for crying out loud. If you're going to keep them alive you have to be humane about and locking some one in a closed cell in La. in June, July and Aug is just plain cruel.

Or maybe they should lock them in an iron box and feed them bread and water.

Agreed. I'm all for punishing those deserving. I'm all for hard labor. I'm all for the death penalty.

Ever been to Alcatraz? That was hard freaking time based on the weather alone.

I'm sorry. Heat Index approaching 200 degrees? Regularly over 125? Contaminated drinking water? I don't think we should be required to maintain 88 degrees necessarily, but c'mon.

If they're on death row, kill them and be done with it. The system however allows executions to be dragged on and on, and so if we're going to keep them alive then we have to do better than this. It is a reflection on us after all IMO.

TheOak 06-12-2013 05:28 PM

Re: Death row inmates sue Angola Prison due to extreme temperatures
 
I'm of the mind since they are going to be euthanized anyway.

Get it done sooner, all salvageable organs go to matching patients. Each body can save up to 8 lives.

Turn something bad into something good.

SmashMouth 06-12-2013 07:29 PM

Re: Death row inmates sue Angola Prison due to extreme temperatures
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TheOak (Post 507865)
I'm of the mind since they are going to be euthanized anyway.

Get it done sooner, all salvageable organs go to matching patients. Each body can save up to 8 lives.

Turn something bad into something good.

Interesting thought ... I wonder if a donated organ from an executed serial killer transforms the organ recipient into a serial killer too?

saintfan 06-13-2013 04:16 PM

Re: Death row inmates sue Angola Prison due to extreme temperatures
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by SmashMouth (Post 507886)
Interesting thought ... I wonder if a donated organ from an executed serial killer transforms the organ recipient into a serial killer too?

And somewhere, right now, there's a lawyer wondering the same thing...

TheOak 06-17-2013 11:26 AM

Re: Death row inmates sue Angola Prison due to extreme temperatures
 
Its 120 F in the shade in Iraq, our soldiers have broken no laws and live in tents.

Pardon my French but **** a death row inmate.


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