Intense heat raises the risk of violence in American prisons

7/29/2021 3:38:00 AM

Eight states, many in the hot south, do not provide universal air conditioning for inmates | Graphic detail

Advocates of prison reform argue that housing inmates in facilities without air conditioning violates the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments”

Eight states, many in the hot south, do not provide universal air conditioning for inmates | Graphic detail

LAST YEAR was a violent one in Mississippi’s prisons. There were 853 inmate-on-inmate assaults, a rise of 29% compared with 2019. Officials argue that much of the violence is gang-related—factions fighting over territory or contraband such as cellphones. Activists point out that punitive policies, shortages of staff and derelict facilities play a role, too. Another, and probably underestimated, factor may be the weather. Mississippi summers usually see average temperatures rise above 80℉ (26.7℃), a threshold at which the likelihood of violence in prisons increases.

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WhatsApp LAST YEAR was a violent one in Mississippi’s prisons.coffee might keep the body energized and alert, but it could be having a dangerous effect on the brain.Following demonstrations on July 25, which resulted in the offices of the largest parliamentary party, Ennahda, burnt down across several cities, Tunisian President Kais Saied seized the moment to concentrate power in his hands.Large hail, damaging winds, and a few tornadoes are possible.

There were 853 inmate-on-inmate assaults, a rise of 29% compared with 2019. Officials argue that much of the violence is gang-related—factions fighting over territory or contraband such as cellphones. The data strongly suggests high coffee consumption can adversely affect brain health, said Elina Hypponen, study co-author and director of the Australian Centre for Precision Health at the University of South Australia Cancer Research Institute. Activists point out that punitive policies, shortages of staff and derelict facilities play a role, too. President Saied's rivals are part of an ever-growing list of enemies, including Prime Minister Mechichi, the speaker of parliament Rachid Ghannouchi, who is also co-founder of the Ennahda party and their allies. Another, and probably underestimated, factor may be the weather. Very high coffee intakes are unlikely to be good for you,” Hypponen told TODAY. Mississippi summers usually see average temperatures rise above 80℉ (26.

7℃), a threshold at which the likelihood of violence in prisons increases. The participants were recruited between 2006 and 2010, and followed until 2018. By 2019, the turnout in the country's parliamentary elections plummeted by 26 percent to 41 percent, reflecting the growing disillusionment in the country. The Economist Today Hand-picked stories, in your inbox A daily email with the best of our journalism Sign up That is the finding of a working paper by Anita Mukherjee of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Nicholas Sanders of Cornell University. The authors matched county-level weather variations across Mississippi with violent incidents reported in the state’s 36 prisons and jails between 2004 and 2010. There were no differences in estimates found among men and women, or among different age groups, the authors wrote. Using these data, they built a statistical model that controlled for the time of year that the violence took place, the type of institution and other factors. Conservative political forces in the country which have become invested in the democratic process may be pushed into "extremist positions" added Profazio. They calculated that on days with average temperatures of 80℉ or higher the chances of violence increased by 20%. Sept.

The hot weather leads to an average of 44 additional incidents of severe violence—those that result in serious injury or death—each year. The influence of heat on violent behaviour has been documented before. Amy Guzik, a neurologist at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and a member of the American Neurological Association. In neighbouring Libya, the renegade general Khalifa Haftar, who has fought a long-running war against the internationally recognised government in Tripoli, welcomed Saied's move. For example, research has shown that on hot days pitchers in Major League Baseball games are more likely to hit batters (through aggression rather than accident, it is thought). Other studies have found that homicides and violent crime in cities such as Chicago and Los Angeles peak on the hottest days. The study doesn’t show a cause and effect, but higher amounts of coffee are potentially worrisome, she added. But measuring the influence of heat on violent behaviour is not an exact science. In Egypt, following the 2013 coup led by the military leading to Abdel Fattah el Sisi taking over from the first democratically elected government.

The studies have to account for variables that may skew results. We feel it with increased concentration or attention when we have a cup of coffee or tea, and that's not concerning to me, but too much of anything is probably not good,” Guzik said. A baseball player may find relief from the heat between innings in the team’s climate-controlled clubhouse. Warm weather also encourages people to spend time outdoors, increasing social interactions that could lead to violence.” Aug. Huda Mzioudet, a researcher in Tunisian and Libyan affairs, is hopeful that the country's civil society can jolt politicians and voters to prevent the country from giving up the gains made in 2011. Other variables, such as income and reporting bias, must also be considered. Prisons offer a controlled setting to study the interplay of heat and violence, according to Ms Mukherjee and Mr Sanders. Indeed, doctors typically don't think of caffeine as a stroke risk factor, Guzik said.

Mississippi is one of eight American states that do not provide air conditioning throughout “most” of their prison system, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, an advocacy group. Like so many Tunisia observers, there is close to a consensus that politicians in the country have squandered the goodwill and trust placed in them. Inmates often cannot mitigate heat by retiring to an air-conditioned room or taking a cold shower. Previous research has found caffeine has positive actions on the brain: It can increase alertness, help concentration, improve mood and limit depression, doctors have noted in the. Cold water for drinking may not be available on hot days—sometimes ice is intentionally withheld—and dodgy plumbing adds to its scarcity. Prisons built of metal and glass, which conduct and retain the summer heat, raise the temperature further. The army's role and the country's security forces will play in the coming days will also be crucial in not avoiding further polarisation. Advocates of prison reform argue that housing inmates in facilities without air conditioning violates the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments”; in some cases the courts have sided with them.

Many inmates suffer from health problems and illnesses, such as hypertension and diabetes, that extreme heat can exacerbate. In Texas the deaths of more than 13 inmates over the past decade due to heat exposure prompted lawsuits, some still pending, against the state. Does it "continue to remain a neutral and impartial actor in the Tunisian political landscape,” or, “take sides with Saied, transforming into an instrument of repression and restoration that would take Tunisia back to 2010. Worsening heat waves and droughts may augur more violent summers for American prisons. According to the Department of Justice, prison homicides in 2018 (the latest year for which data are available) hit the highest rate since 2001. About 30% of the estimated 2m incarcerated people in America are imprisoned in one of the eight states without universal air conditioning.

Most of these states lie in America’s southern heat belt, where summer temperatures easily cross the 80℉ threshold. Ms Mukherjee and Mr Sanders estimate that unmitigated heat could trigger 4,000 additional violent incidents across America’s prison system. These prison fights can lead to additional convictions and extended sentences, as they are tried as separate incidents. There are some efforts to improve conditions in prisons. Activists and inmates have won lawsuits in several states, where courts ruled that not providing climate-controlled housing for inmates vulnerable to extreme weather violated their rights under the Eighth Amendment.

In May the Texas house of representatives voted to require the state to purchase air-conditioning units so that prison temperatures could be maintained between 65℉ and 85℉. The bill capped the cost of doing so at $300m over seven years, but the state’s criminal-justice department claimed it would cost three times that amount. The bill has not had a reading in the senate. For the 80,000 inmates without air conditioning in Texas, it is likely to be another sweltering summer. Correction (July 27th 2021): an earlier version of this article misstated the units in the right-hand chart.

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