Contact: J C, (929) 286-3709, firstname.lastname@example.org
BURLINGTON COUNTY, NJ — In already the second major heatwave of 2021, as temperatures outdoors soar close to 100 degrees for several days in a row, people incarcerated at Fort Dix FCI, a “Critical Care” facility that detains elderly and chronically ill individuals, are left without any way to get cool, putting them at dangerously high risk for heat stroke and even death.
Every year, vulnerable people incarcerated at Fort Dix face a crisis of hot weather, compounded by the lack of access to cold water for drinking and bathing, and a cooling system that does not function well in a congregate detention setting. Fort Dix is known to have high levels of dangerous contamination, making drinking from tap water a daily risk people are already taking.
From a person inside: “When most people hear inmates at Fort Dix complain about the terrible heat experienced every summer, they shrug and think, “what do those guys expect, they’re not in a hotel.”
It’s easy to dismiss the complaints but there is a lack of understanding about the real situation we go through every summer, and this year, when it is not even July yet and we have had multiple days of 90 plus degree heat, below is a description of what it is like in the housing units.
Each room has a ceiling fan, there are also building wide extractor fans which are supposed to exhaust the hot air out. However, every time a major shakedown takes place in a housing unit, walls, ceilings and doors are broken, causing major pockets of air, so instead of the exhaust units taking hot air out, they bring the hot air in, and then circulate it.
We are not allowed to have thermometers in the units because then we would have an accurate guage of just how hot it is but for any of us who has stepped outside and then in again we can feel that it is hotter indoors. Today, June 30th, with temperatures in the high 90s, the real feel in the rooms is 100 plus.
Each unit has one ice machine. Due to the machines being overworked there is never ever enough ice available so that people can have cold, or at least cool water to drink. The water coming out of the faucets is like warm at best.
The water in the showers is also set at hot with almost no ability to have cold water coming out. This means that even the ability to have a cold shower is unavailable.
Imagine this, weather outside consistently in the 90’s, being stuck indoors with a real feel of 100 plus degrees and absolutely no chance of relief, just hot air blowing through the building, no cold water to drink or wash with.
We ask for the following:
1) a way to bring down the temperature in the units.
According to healthline.com “High environmental temperatures can be dangerous to your body. In the range of 90˚ and 105˚F (32˚ and 40˚C), you can experience heat cramps and exhaustion. Between 105˚ and 130˚F (40˚ and 54˚C), heat exhaustion is more likely.“
2) ice to cool drinking water or a steady supply of cold water.
3) the ability to wash and shower with cold water.
All we are asking for, is for a way to cool off.”
Among those at Fort Dix, many are living with conditions that leave them especially susceptible to heat stroke, heart attacks, and ultimately easily preventable deaths. Those detained at Fort Dix are still living in the nightmare that was the Covid-19 outbreak. Fort Dix had the highest documented number of Covid 19 cases in the entire Bureau of Prisons, and at least five people lost their lives. Fort Dix is currently the subject of a class action suit filed by incarcerated individuals because of their mishandling of the outbreak, which has been well documented in the news (see here and here).
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