Prisoners Weather Summer Heat Without Air Conditioning

Brett Blume

CHESTER, Ill. (KMOX) –  During this seemingly never-ending heat wave, we’ve been reminded to constantly check on the elderly, the home-bound, even pets.

But what about prison inmates?

James Chapman is an Illinois prisoner advocate who spends a lot of time working with inmates at Menard Correctional Center in Chester, where he says they try to make up for lack of AC with giant fans.

But he says that doesn’t help, and may even make things worse.

“They’re only blowing (hot) air around,” he tells KMOX News, “and as you know heat tends to rise.  So that by the time you get to the third or fourth floor, heat has been accumulating over a period of time.  All the men are in their shorts.”

But it’s not only the inmates who suffer, he says, it’s the prison guards and everyone else who works in that prison as well.

“It is horrible,” Chapman says.

Menard was built and opened as a state prison shortly after the Civil War, and Chapman feels that’s at least a century too old.

“These old facilities should have been closed down long ago,” he believes.

Of the dozens of jails and prisons in Illinois, only a handful have central air conditioning.

Many allow prisoners to purchase personal electric fans from the prison commissary.

Despite several attempts, KMOX News was unable to make contact with an Illinois Department of Corrections spokesperson for comment on this story.

Copyright KMOX Radio


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