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LatinoJustice Advocates In Texas Demand For State To Provide Immediate Relief To Individuals Caught Up In Criminal Legal System

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 15, 2021

Contacts: 

Elianne Ramos | Chief Communications Officer | [email protected]g 212.739.7513 

Sarai Bejarano | Manager of Traditional & Digital Media | [email protected]g| 212-739-7581

LatinoJustice Advocates In Texas Demand For State To Provide Immediate Relief To Individuals Caught Up In Criminal Legal System

Austin, TX – While most of Texas struggles with unexpectedly prolonged severe weather conditions, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has received credible reports that several Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison units are without heat, and that the infrastructure on at least one of those units has deteriorated to the point where snow is coming in through cell windows. People are setting fires in living areas in TDCJ units to keep from freezing, creating serious safety issues.

Yesterday Governor Abbott announced that the White House has issued a Federal Emergency Declaration that “provides Texas with additional resources and assistance” in response to the weather conditions. When deploying these resources, those people who are confined in TDCJ units should not be forgotten.

Decades of neglect from TDCJ administrators to antiquated prison infrastructure is highlighted during moments of extreme weather, and those in cells and the staff watching them bear the brunt of that neglect,” said Jorge Renaud, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Southwest at LatinoJustice. “The state must provide immediate relief to those individuals and to downsize and find alternative means of addressing those who are caught up in our criminal legal systems.”

According to our credible reports, snow is entering the cells in the Michael Unit in Tennessee Colony. Some buildings in the unit are without heat and individuals desperate to not freeze have resorted to setting fires in living areas. In the Marlin Unit in Marlin, the entire unit is without heat and without electricity.

We understand that the entire state is facing many of these issues. However, the TDCJ has a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of those within its care, and we implore that the wardens of every TDCJ unit take every necessary step to ensure that those incarcerated on their units have, at the minimum: 

  • Living areas that are kept above 60 degrees Fahrenheit during the next week; 
  • Windows, doors, and sally ports that do not allow for the passage of snow and ice, especially in living areas;
  • Extra blankets and whatever is necessary for incarcerated individuals to maintain core body heat.

The emergency federal funds received by the State of Texas should be used to protect all residents, including those incarcerated in the TDCJ’s units, from severe cold.

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About LatinoJustice 

LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For more information about LatinoJustice, visit www.latinojustice.org