Some Arizona Prison officials have been caught faking air conditioning logs as part of an alleged cover up of inhumane conditions for both staffers and prisoners.
Back in 2014, The Arizona Department of Corrections was the subject of a lawsuit, Parsons v. Ryan, which claimed that the DOC’s treatment of inmates was unconstitutional.
As part of this lawsuit, prisons all over the state had to submit temperature logs showing indoor temperatures for the summer months. But examiners are finding that not all logs were realistic; in a summer where the temperatures outside consistently reached triple digits, one prison only recorded temperatures in the 80s. In this case, these logs were filled out days in advance.
It became a rule under Parsons v. Ryan that all state correctional facilities had to keep a record of indoor temperatures. But lawyers got suspicious when these logs included temperatures that were lower than reported elsewhere in the state, especially considering Arizona is prone to severe heat waves in the summer.
And a big part of this problem is that many prisons don’t have adequate air conditioning units. The American Society for Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) reports that the normal range for human comfort during the summer is temperatures between 72 and 78 degrees, 35% to 60% relative humidity, and light clothing. Of course, without any air conditioning, comfort is the least of concerns. Heat stroke can be a serious danger in the Arizona heat, and lawyers point to these inhumane conditions as proof something needs to change.
The temperatures recorded in some Arizona prisons this summer are staggering. Inmates in Florence’s tent city had to deal with 106-degree heat back in July while those in the Douglas state prison coped with indoor temperatures of 113 degrees. Women inmates at the prison in Perryville recently went on strike demanding better conditions after their indoor temperatures increased to 100 degrees.
In some cases, the lack of widespread air conditioning units ended in tragedy. Back in 2015, a 25-year-old inmate hanged herself in her cell with a bed sheet. The guards were unable to tend to her because they were sitting in an air-conditioned command center.
But now the problem lies with the fact that while it has come to the public’s attention that these temperature logs are being faked, no one knows how widespread the problem really is.
The Arizona Department of Corrections has not responded to these claims.