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Advocates demand special session to approve, install air conditioning in Texas prisons

About two-thirds of the state's 100 prisons don't have air conditioning in most living areas.

TEXAS, USA — The families of Texas inmates are desperate for help as extreme heat continues to bear down across the state.

Prison rights advocates and lawmakers joined the demand for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session that would aim at approving and installing air conditioning in several Texas prisons.

Many people gathered outside of the Texas State Capitol on Tuesday to demand more humane conditions while sharing devastating testimonies of lost loved ones due to the brutal temperatures inside the prisons.

Lawmakers in support of the fight said it's not a political issue but a humanity issue.

"We're not talking about comfort," Marci Marie Simmons said. "We're talking about a matter of life and death."

About two-thirds of the state's 100 prisons don't have air conditioning in most living areas, which means thousands of officers and prisoners are living without ventilation inside those concrete walls in the extreme heat.

"It is so hot," said Kristie Williams, whose brother died at the Goree Unit in Huntsville. "He was so exhausted. He was having trouble breathing and they were barely getting any kind of water at all."

At least nine prisoners have died of reported heart attacks in prisons without air conditioning, according to the Texas Tribune.

Advocates and lawmakers hope more pressure will encourage the state to use its $32 billion surplus to bring prisons up to livable standards. So far, the governor's office has yet to respond to calls about another special session.

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