Ramona Hinojosa, mother of the late Albert Hinojosa, sued the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and medical service providers over the death of her son from heat stroke.
Hinojosa died in the state's Garza West Unit in Beeville, where the windows are sealed shut and the "prison housing areas are like an oven," Ramona Hinojosa says in the lawsuit. But the warden and other officials keep their offices in the prison cooled to a comfortable 75 degrees, she says.
"On August 29, 2012, shortly after midnight, a prisoner told an officer working in Hinojosa's dorm that he fell out his bed and was suffering convulsions," the complaint states.
"The officer came to Hinojosa's bunk, and found him lying on the floor. His skin was hot to the touch, and he was unresponsive. The officer immediately called her supervisor. Because there was no 24-hour medical staff at the prison, the supervisor called 911.
"The ambulance arrived around 1:30 am, and rushed Hinojosa to the hospital. But it was too late. He was pronounced dead at 1:50 am. He was only 44."
An autopsy showed he died from hyperthermia, a condition brought on when a body produces more heat than it dissipates. The record-breaking heat of 2011 was deadly for Texas inmates: 10 died from heat stroke that year, but officials did nothing about it, Hinojosa says.
Temperatures are said to rise in excess of 120 degrees and remain above 100 degrees overnight. Even if it doesn't kill you, that's torture - day in, day out torture. Prison officials have said providing air conditioning would be a waste of money. The state of Texas, meanwhile, is expected to get ever hotter in the years to come.