Deadly Heat Victory in Louisiana
To all comrades within the jurisdiction of the fifth circuit, there has been a victory ordering prison officials to maintain the temperature (heat index!) at or below 88 degrees in Angola's death row buildings. We have also filed to have our buildings cooled. The court has in so many words said that each prison must file separately in order to obtain relief.
Please read the case: Elzie Ball, et al. v. James M. Leblanc, et al. U.$. District Court for the Middle district of Louisiana, 988 F. Supp. 2d 639; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178557 Civil Action No.: 13-00368-BAJ-SCR. This is on order from Ball v. Leblanc, 792 F.3d 584, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 11769 (5th Cir. La. 2015).
It is important to note that the heat index is always much higher than the actual temperature. Let us have the courts order the pigs to cool us off, while they are heated up by having to spend $$ from a strained budget; who likes bacon!!!
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is following up on the battle comrades have been waging against some seriously dangerous conditions in Louisiana prisons. There was a hunger strike in July to protest the deadly heat. Another comrade reported on deaths and threats to prisoners attempting to expose the conditions:
"On the date of 12 June 2016 an offender by the name of Lawrence Goodeau committed suicide due to the confinement and heat issue being so harsh. Upon David Wade authorities doing their investigation they made multiple threats to offenders after their investigation about them letting investigators know about the confinement and heat issue that we are currently in court for. There have been other deaths here at David Wade at the hands of authority that have been swept under the rug multiple times.
"At this point in time David Wade is under investigation for the cruel and unusual punishment by the Dept. of Corrections and other sources behind all of the violations by authority of David Wade. Right now offenders are at risk of a heatstroke because of the heat issue. The head Warden, Jerry Goodwin, who is now the regional Warden, has totally disregarded these issues as well."
Another comrade wrote to us recently about conditions at David Wade in the control units:
"All prisoners are housed in their cells 24-7 and get only one outside a week. All cells are approx 8x7 which do not meet ACA standards of sixty-four square feet of unencumbered space for prisoners....We do not have TVs or radios, nor access to any educational programming etc. We are limited to three books, and we endure eighteen hours of continuous bright light in the cells everyday, no exceptions! We must endure the elements of both cold and heat, with temperatures often times reaching triple digits. We are not provided any ice, and are forced to wear a heavy linen cloth jumpsuit from 5am to 4pm. All prisoners suffer the effects of the chemical agents that are used on us on a daily basis. Many prisoners are also placed on (strip cell) in a thin see through paper gown for thirty-day periods. During the winter months this is beyond torture."
It's clear that conditions in Louisiana prisons are dangerous on many levels. The heat problem is serious and we applaud these comrades for their success in this battle. They demonstrate the value of taking on the criminal injustice system through various channels: legal battles can sometimes (rarely) be won, but protests behind bars and on the streets will always help with these fights. These comrades also demonstrate another important practice: using these battles to educate others. Several Louisiana prisoners have been writing to Under Lock & Key with these regular updates on the struggle, using their work to expose the criminal injustice system and as a tool of education behind bars. We can use these battles to build unity and educate others on the systematic nature of imperialist oppression and the use of prisons as tools of social control.