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Prisoners’ relatives and former inmates plead for help as deaths mount in sweltering Texas prisons

Several lawmakers supported a call for Gov. Greg Abbott to bring lawmakers back immediately to approve air conditioning for prisons, which the Legislature declined to do during its regular session.

Tona Southards, whose 36-year-old son died in a Texas prison during the June 2023 heat wave, falls to her knees as she leads a prayer circle outside the Texas Capitol on July 18. Southards and other prison rights advocates called for Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session to install air conditioning in Texas prisons.

Kristie Williams cries as she speaks of her brother, 35-year-old Tommy McCullough, who died in an uncooled Texas prison in June 2023 during a relentless heat wave during a press conference at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday, July 18, 2023, in Austin.

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Criminal justice Carl Sherman, Sr. Greg Abbott Texas Department Of Criminal Justice Texas Legislature