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Louisiana youth locked in solitary confinement despite 132-degree temperatures: 'They have to hold out a cup ... to ask for water'

The inhumane conditions in such excessive heat could put the children at risk of heat stroke and other health issues.

Louisiana State Penitentiary

Photo Credit: iStock

The safeguarding of youth at a Louisiana penitentiary has been called into question after statements from children imprisoned there revealed they were kept in solitary confinement as the heat index hit 132 degrees Fahrenheit.

Those kinds of conditions put the children at risk of heat stroke and other health issues. 

What happened at Louisiana State Penitentiary?

Several children incarcerated at Louisiana State Penitentiary, also called Angola prison, were locked in isolation for four consecutive days amid extreme temperatures during July, according to a case brought forward by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

A Guardian report said the unit — which was previously used to hold prisoners on death row — had no air conditioning and no windows. During the eight minutes the children were allowed out of their cells, they were only allowed to shower, and they remained in shackles while they did so, according to a statement from one of the youths. 

Those incarcerated also had no drinking water in their cells. 

"The kids are telling us they have to hold out a cup through the bars to ask for water," said Nancy Rosenbloom, senior litigation advisor of the ACLU National Prison Project, per the Guardian.

Why is this so concerning?

According to the Guardian, the Angola prison unit has long had a "history of abuse and neglect scandals," and it is typically reserved for adult inmates.

These allegations come a year after Louisiana first proposed sending juvenile prisoners to Angola. 

A judge responding to the ACLU's protests about the transfer noted the children sent to Angola would likely be subject to "psychological trauma and harm," per The Appeal, but the measure was still approved. While that is obviously troubling in terms of safeguarding, that's not to mention the inhumane conditions in such excessive heat. 

Per the Guardian, one plaintiff described how he often couldn't sleep because of the heat, and a fan in the facility "did not always work." 

Analysis from Climate Central revealed the heatwave across Texas, Mexico, and Louisiana from mid-June to July was made five times more likely because of "human-caused climate change."

What's being done to stop this happening?

The ACLU is trying to ensure the children are removed from Angola and placed in "youth-appropriate non-punitive settings." 

Meanwhile, in a bid to tackle the extreme heat, Louisiana's Climate Action Plan has received billions of dollars in commitment from industry to reach net zero emissions by 2050. 

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (via Governing.com), carbon reduction plans include facilities for electric vehicle components, carbon capture, and storage and hydrogen production.

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