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Posted: Tuesday, 03 June 2014 7:42AM

Battle to cool death row heats up

As the weather heats up, so to does the battle to cool death row at Louisiana's state prison in Angola.

Three death row inmates sued the state, citing the heat conditions on death row as cruel and unusual punishment. A federal judge ordered Angola to implement a cooling plan, but an order to install air conditioning is on hold while the state appeals.

Mercedes Montagnes, a lawyer for one of the inmates, says condemned or not, the U.S. Constitution requires humane treatment for these men.

"Our constitution has many amendments and one of them says that we shouldn't subject people to cruel and unusual punishment," she explained. "So it's our duty to uphold that, as it is any other provision of the constitution."

Montagnes believes it will not take much to improve conditions.
"As I understand it, there's some existing duct work inside of death row that they're just going to simply use to put cooling in place that will remove the moisture from the air and actually lower the temperature," she said. "Our sense is that the conditions on death row are quite dangerous.  And we would like to move forward in creating a safer environment as possible, given the circumstances, as quickly as possible."
The lawsuit alleged the heat index on death row reached as high as 195 degrees some days.  Currently, death row tiers are only heated and ventilated. The only relief from the heat on death row are fans blowing into the cells.

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Topics : Law_CrimeSocial Issues
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Locations : Louisiana
People : Mercedes Montagnes
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