We are one week into the national #prisonstrike as temperatures rise to 97 degrees in Boston today, with a heat index of 105. An excessive heat warning is in effect until Wednesday evening, schools are cancelling classes or scheduling early dismissals, and forecasters are calling the heat levels dangerous.
Meanwhile, since we forced the state to acknowledge the heat in the prisons last month, we have been hearing from more and more folks inside and from their loved ones that the temperatures in the prisons remain unlivable and inhumane. Today, temperatures are likely to reach 110 degrees inside the prisons, where we also know there is no clean water, no air conditioning, and fan access only for those who can afford it.
Last month, we made enough noise that the Department of Public Health (DPH) conducted inspections of three prisons in MA: Norfolk, Walpole, and Concord. Two of the three prisons were cited for violating ventilation standards. After the DPH inspections it was revealed that the exhaust system was used only sparingly in one facility, as officials cited the noise it makes as a possible security concern. While in at least one facility fans were installed in every block, a couple of fans for a 45 person unit is at best, woefully insufficient.
We know that temperatures are excessive in prisons all across the country and all across the state — and more than just these 2 are violating environmental health standards.
The first demand of the national prison strike is: “Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.” In alignment with this demand, it is time to turn the heat back up on the DOC. Please join us by emailing the DPH to demand inspections of ALL state prisons and by calling Charlie Baker to demand Thomas Turco, Commissioner of the Department of Correction, be fired for allowing this human rights abuse to occur.
EMAIL: Rebecca White, Executive Assistant to Associate Commissioner Lindsay Tucker
Last month, the DPH conducted inspections of MCI-Norfolk, MCI-Cedar Junction, and MCI-Concord after receiving multiple complaints from incarcerated people and their loved ones. We know that the DPH cited MCI-Cedar Junction and MCI-Concord for violations of ventilation standards and made recommendations to the DOC for improving conditions.
We need more.
As temperatures rise again this week to dangerous levels, we demand inspections of the heat and of the water DURING this heatwave at ALL state prisons, including Framingham, Plymouth, Shirley, Gardner, Old Colony, Pondville, and Souza-Baranowski. We demand follow-up and accountability for the DOC to actually improve conditions, particularly excessive temperatures and brown water, by installing air conditioning and fans in all units and providing prisoners with free, clean bottled water and personal fans that they may permanently keep in their cells. The humanity of imprisoned people must be recognized.
CALL SCRIPT: Baker’s Office: (617) 725-4005
Hello, my name is __________. And I am a concerned voter in [your town/neighborhood]. I have been informed that prisoners in MA do not have access to air conditioning, fans, or clean water. This is yet another example of environmental racism on the part of the state of Massachusetts and the DOC.
I demand that you immediately terminate Commissioner Turco. Further, you must instruct the DOC to install air conditioning and fans in all units and provide prisoners with free, clean bottled water and personal fans.