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Facing legal heat, Texas prison system tries new cooling devices to ease oppressive temps

  • Texas Prisons Heat-1.jpg

    Inmate Doug Gore, 35, of Silsbee, Texas, sits on his bunk Friday, June 20, 2014, near a cooling fan recently installed at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Holliday Unit near Huntsville, Texas. The nation’s most populous prison system, facing legal actions and criticism about inmates having to endure oppressive Texas summer heat, is looking to make conditions a bit more bearable at seven state lockups by installing cooling systems similar to those seen on the sidelines of early-season football games. (AP Photo/Michael Graczyk)The Associated Press

  • Texas Prisons Heat-2.jpg

    This Friday, June 20, 2014 photo shows a cooling fan recently installed at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Holliday Unit near Huntsville, Texas. The nation’s most populous prison system, facing legal actions and criticism about inmates having to endure oppressive Texas summer heat, is looking to make conditions a bit more bearable at seven state lockups by installing cooling systems similar to those seen on the sidelines of early-season football games. (AP Photo/Michael Graczyk)The Associated Press

  • Texas Prisons Heat-3.jpg

    This Friday, June 20, 2014 photo shows a cooling fan recently installed at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Holliday Unit near Huntsville, Texas. The nation’s most populous prison system, facing legal actions and criticism about inmates having to endure oppressive Texas summer heat, is looking to make conditions a bit more bearable at seven state lockups by installing cooling systems similar to those seen on the sidelines of early-season football games. (AP Photo/Michael Graczyk)The Associated Press

Texas corrections officials getting legal heat about high summer temperatures inside state prisons are trying to make conditions more bearable in a handful of units by installing cooling devices similar to ones used on the sidelines of football games.

Prison officials insist it's a routine upgrade they look at every summer — not a response to lawsuits that allege the conditions are responsible for numerous inmate deaths.

But an attorney for plaintiffs in the lawsuits says the improvements, however small, are no coincidence.

Texas prison agency spokesman Jason Clark says converting all 109 of the state's lockups to include air conditioning would be extremely expensive.

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