Cool Down

A federal judge ordered a Texas prison to provide air conditioning for its most heat-sensitive inmates, the latest development in a long legal battle by inmates seeking air conditioning. According to the Houston Chronicle, U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison ruled on Wednesday that the state must provide cooler living spaces for 475 elderly, disabled and other heat-sensitive inmates at the Pack Unit outside Houston, not exceeding 88 degrees, and a thousand other inmates must have easy access to cooler areas indoors. The prison also has to develop a heat-wave policy. Wrongful death lawsuits have separately been filed on behalf of eight inmates who died from heat stroke in Texas, and at least 20 prisoners have died from the heat since 1998. Ellison ripped into the Texas prison system in his 100-page order. “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons,” Ellison wrote. “To deny modern technology to inmates today for the simple reason that it was not available to inmates in past generations is an argument that proves too much. No one suggests that inmates should be denied up-to-date medical and psychiatric care, or that they should be denied access to radio or television, or that construction of prison facilities should not use modern building materials. The treatment of prisoners must necessarily evolve as society evolves.”

Cash Cow

Governor Greg Abbott has some really rich friends. He pulled in a ridiculous $10 million toward his re-election campaign in just ten days, including $1 million from Michael and Mary Porter of the Cross Creek Ranch in Doss, a tiny Gillespie County town northwest of Fredericksburg, Texas Monthly‘s R.G. Ratcliffe reported on Wednesday. The Porters are cattle ranchers, and they haven’t been particularly politically active in the past. Other than $5,000 donated to Abbott in 2014, their only other political contribution was $50,000 to state Representative Doug Miller in 2016. “My wife Mary and I care deeply about the future of Texas,” Michael Porter wrote in an email to Texas Monthly. “We believe Governor Abbott has put forth a vision to keep Texas exceptional, and we wanted to do our part in supporting that effort. While we understand the interest this has drawn, we would respectfully decline to comment on further questions.”

Party Protest

A group of teens held a unique protest in Austin yesterday, donning colorful quinceañera and tiaras on the steps of the Capitol to oppose Senate Bill 4. About fifteen girls attended the protest, which included a dance and speeches, according to the Dallas Morning News, wearing sashes that read “No hate,” “Equality” and “United Families.” A quinceañera, of course, is a formal “sweet sixteen”-type birthday party celebrated in Latino culture. “SB 4 makes simply being brown a crime,” 17-year old protester Magdalena Juarez said, according to the San Antonio Express-News. “We will resist by celebrating our families and our culture. We will resist by standing in unity.” SB 4 bans so-called “sanctuary cities” in Texas, and critics of the law say it enables local law enforcement to racially profile Hispanic people and will result in unnecessary deportations. It is set to go into effect in September.