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Report: Legislators Need to Act on Dangerous Heat in New Jersey Prisons

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According to a recent report from the state Corrections Ombudsperson’s Office, 3,500 prisoners and 3,000 correctional officers have endured oppressive summer heats in non-air-conditioned New Jersey prisons where temperatures reached 94 degrees, increasing the risk of heat illnesses, posing security risks and suspending rehabilitation programs, the New Jersey Monitor reports.

Terry Schuster, the state’s ombudsman, encouraged lawmakers to upgrade the state’s outdated jails with air conditioning. Without air conditioning to provide comfort from the intense heat, officials have increased detainees’ access to showers, beverages and ice, according to Department of Corrections spokesperson Dan Sperrazza. In early July, the Department of Corrections sent jails a memo explaining cooling guidelines to adhere to when indoor temperatures reach 86 degrees. But, according to the report, when investigators from Schuster’s office visited the state’s adult prisons in July and August, they found temperatures in some cells as high as 88 to 94 degrees, which several detainees described as feeling “like hell.”

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