mulberry official site Corrections officers call heat unbearable inside El Dorado prison
“That’s just the way the place is built. You’re talking about nothing but concrete and steel and it gets hot. And the showers turn on and it just doubles the heat,” the guard said.
But this year the prison is working through problems like being short staffed, longer shifts for employees, and unruly inmates. The corrections officer says the suffocating heat has only added to tensions.
One employee said in a text message, “There’s only one cell house left on line that does not have climate control. It gets to 120. I know because we used to have to monitor it.”
“If I know I gotta be on that side, I hate getting dressed in the afternoon,
” the anonymous guard said.
He says the overwhelming temperatures mean sometimes safety gear gets left behind.
“They try to get us to wear our protective vests but in those cell houses it’s just unbearable and you can’t do it. Not for 12 hours, 16 hours a day,” he said.
The guard says he hopes for change, but doesn’t expect any soon.
“We have to do our job whether we’re sweating to death or not. We have to protect our inmates. We are here to protect them and the society,” the guard said.
Employees say the inmates do have fans in their cells and unlimited access to ice.
Eyewitness News reached out to the state and the prison for a response. Corrections secretary Joe Norwood said in a statement, “The KDOC has the utmost concern for the health and well being of both staff and offenders at all of its facilities.”
The west side of the facility cell houses are temperature controlled by a water chill system.
The east side cell houses are controlled by outside air. They have barrel fans in each living unit pod dayroom. Air temperature monitoring is conducted in the inmate living units to ensure safety of the offenders.
Each cell has an “indigent fan” if the offender cannot afford his own fan. The cell windows can be opened to allow fresh air to accommodate air flow into the cell area. Offenders are also permitted to acquire ice from large ice machines in the dayroom area of each pod.