The question of weather conditions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary during the summertime months constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” is currently being conducted in Baton Rouge, Federal Court.
The Louisiana State Penitentiary, or “The Farm,” as the jail is often called, built new death row tiers in 2006. The new facility at Angola which today houses 82 inmates was purposefully constructed with neither air-conditioning, nor cross-ventilation.
Inmates on death row are required to spend 23 hours a day in their cells.
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of three inmates whose medical conditions are exacerbated by high heat are demanding that steps be taken to lower the indoor temperature. According to these inmates, the conditions during summer at the Louisiana State Penitentiary violate the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Eight Amendment.
The defendants in the case are Department of Public Safety and Corrections and specifically its Secretary James LeBlanc, Angola Prison Warden Burl Cain and Death Row Warden Angela Norwood.
Two death row inmates from the Louisiana State Penitentiary testified that heat levels are “indescribable,” during the first day of a federal trial in Baton Rouge.
In July, District Judge Brian A. Jackson ordered the collection of data to determine temperature inside on Angola’s death row over a three week period. The purpose was to determine how hot it really gets in the unventilated, non-air-conditioned cells.
However, at the order of Warden Burl Cain, prison officials violated the direct orders of the federal judge and took steps to lower the temperatures. The prison officials installed window awnings and blasted the building’s outer walls with water cannons to lower the indoor temperatures.
When Judge Jackson found out about this he stated: “I’m very, very troubled by this.” Judge Jackson said that was even more “illogical” was why the steps were taken — in violation of a court-order to keep all else equal during the evidence gathering period — when prison officials claimed that they didn’t even expect the efforts to work.
“This just doesn’t make any sense,” Jackson said, saying someone at the Louisiana State Penitentiary either exercised “shockingly poor judgment” or was making a “concerted effort” to undermine or tamper with the data collection.
We at Regan Law PLC are concerned about the constitutional rights of all citizens. We demand that the living conditions in the Louisiana State Penitentiary for all inmates be humane and within the law.
To confine human beings in inhumane conditions is not consistent with our values or the human rights we stand for as a nation. Because you must be e incarcerated doesn’t mean you can be neglected or tortured.
It is our hope that once the judge has the opportunity to evaluate all the data and testimony presented during the trial, that whatever changes are ordered, take place.
About Martin E. Regan, Jr.
Year after year, Martin E. Regan Jr., the firm’s senior partner, has dedicated tireless efforts on behalf of the accused and produce wins for clients that a less determined advocate would have thought hopeless. Martin E. Regan Jr.’s ability to tackle and win tough criminal cases has resulted in verdicts of acquittal in many highly publicized trials.