Sometimes, being a voice for the voiceless means I must occasionally speak out on issues that are not directly related to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and the Boston Marathon bombing. Sometimes, I come across so grievous a matter that I am compelled to speak out.
The following is from an article I have just read on Twitter. It was written by Brandi Grissom, Austin Bureau Chief for The Dallas Morning News:
It is officially swelter season in Texas, and for most of the 150,000 inmates in the state’s sprawling prison system, it means another summer of seemingly endless months in cells where temperatures can climb north of 100 degrees.
I could stop there and write an entire blog post. That one sentence gives me enough to comment on. But I want to include the two sentences that follow it. And then I will have my say.
How many more summers prisoners live without air conditioning will depend on how and when the courts rule in a years-long fight between prisoner advocates and Texas corrections officials.
Here’s the sentence I could not believe I was actually reading:
The two sides are locked in a battle over whether super-heated conditions in Texas prisons are unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment and jeopardize inmates’ lives.
Some things you just know instinctively, reflexively, intuitively to be right or wrong. This is one of those things.
Yes – forcing human beings to live without air conditioning in prison cells where temperatures can reach higher than 100 degrees day after day is inhumane. It is cruel and unusual punishment. Case closed.
I believe the litmus test is this: Would you be willing to live this way?
For anyone who actually cares to know what God has to say, His Word, the Bible, does weigh in on the matter:
And they too will reply, “Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?”
Then the King will answer “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.”
Matthew 25: 44-45
Man complicates matters that are really so simple:
Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
We used to learn the Golden Rule in grade school. It needs to be posted in every prison in this country. And guards need to be held accountable who do not follow it.
Although this article lists the arguments on both sides of the air conditioning issue, to me, it is all nonsense. The fact that this is an issue at all speaks to the hardness of the human heart, the callous indifference of those who run the Texas prison system. It is indicative of the prevalent attitude that “you get what you deserve” in prison.
Sadly, much of society has sunk to the level of justifying bad behavior by who that bad behavior is done to. In other words: criminals (and all who are incarcerated are not criminals) have ceased, in the minds of many, to be human beings who deserve common courtesy and what any rational person would call acceptable living conditions.
If only those officials who resist making this wrong right could see what punishment they are storing up for themselves when at last they face their Creator!
I agree with the writer of this article that prisoners in Texas will not have relief any time soon. The hearts of men must change first. Again, the Bible speaks to this matter:
The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17: 9-10
… Something to think about when these officials, and indeed all of us, go to bed in our air-conditioned homes tonight.