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Inmates from Texas' uncooled prisons are resorting to different methods to plead for help as the continued heatwave affecting the state and the country make their living conditions increasingly unbearable.

There have been reports of dehydration, heat rash and attempts to cool down with toilet water, according to Border Report. In that context inmates are contacting media and sending open letters to raise awareness about what they see as an existential threat.

"I will never forget the inmate who was drinking from a toilet last summer because the ice cooler was without water and ice all day," an inmate wrote in a letter to KXAN. "My life is in great danger... I plead with Mother Nature for relief to survive."

He added that inmates are stuck in the day room without running water, leaving their bodies as if they had gotten "into a bee fight." The prison, TDJC's Coffield unit, said that eight inmates and 10 staff members have had heat-related illnesses this year.

Prison authorities defended their mitigating measures saying they have water coolers, fans, respite areas and "heat sensitivity scores" for at-risk inmates.

Prison rights advocates filed a complaint against the state's system in April seeking protections from extreme heat for inmates, saying that living under such conditions amounts to cruel punishment.

Concretely, the complaint was filed against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice by four nonprofit organizations and requested that all state prisons be kept under 85°F. State jails already have to operate under that threshold and federal prisons in the state need to be kept under 76°F.

To achieve this, the advocates joined a lawsuit filed by an inmate who collapsed after being in a cell in a Huntsville facility that reached 110 °F.

According to The Texas Tribune, extreme heat has caused the death of dozens of inmates and cost the state millions of dollars due to lawsuits resulting from these fatalities.

The state hasn't reported heat-related deaths since 2012 but a 2022 study concluded that 14 deaths every year were directly associated with heat, even if the term wasn't present in the death certificate. Namely, diseases include renal diseases, cardiovascular mortality, respiratory illnesses and suicides.

"Heat deaths haven't magically stopped," says the lawsuit. "TDCJ has simply stopped reporting or admitting them after the multiple wrongful death lawsuits and national news coverage."

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