Nearly one-quarter of Virginia prisoners facing summer heat without air conditioning

Watchful Eye

If you’re under the impression that all taxpayer-funded facilities in 2022 have basics like air conditioning, you’re wrong. Virginia is still confining people in prisons without air conditioning.

A press release from the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) reveals that only about 77% of its prisoners are in air-conditioned facilities. When the summer heat arrives, the department claims it’s “taking significant steps to ensure” those without air conditioning “are provided ample heat mitigation resources.”

Those resources, VADOC notes, include fans, misting fans, and smoke exhaust fans. Other resources include extra ice and water pouches. VADOC said it’s also “exploring the use of temporary portable A/C units.”

Virginia has hot summers. In July, the average high temperature across the state is between 85 and 88 degrees, according to
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VADOC said, during the summer, the summer its staff will conduct temperature checks multiple times per day to ensure all of its facilities stay within “safe ranges.”

The department is working to add air conditioning to those facilities that don’t have it. Work was recently completed to add air conditioning to Haynesville Correctional Unit 17 in Richmond County. That upgrade cost $500,000, VADOC reported.

“Soon,” the department plans to begin similar projects at Wise Correctional Unit 18 in Wise County and Halifax Correctional Unit 23 in Halifax County.

VADOC said it is closely monitoring the availability of capital improvement funds for State Fiscal Year 2023 and hopes to address further heat-related renovations in additional facilities over the next year.

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