by Candice Bernd, Truthout
This story is the sixth piece in "America's Toxic Prisons," an investigative, collaborative series between Truthout and Earth Island Journal. This series dives deeply into the intersection between mass incarceration and environmental justice.
A set of emails obtained by Truthout and Earth Island Journal describe nightmarish conditions inside the federal prison complex in Beaumont, Texas, after flooding last week cut off power -- including air-conditioning -- and the water supply. The emails were sent via Corrlinks, an email system used by federal prisoners.
The emails reveal morbid conditions endured by prisoners living under lockdown after Hurricane Harvey, then downgraded to a tropical depression, dropped 35 inches of rain on the area. Truthout redacted identifying information due to the danger of retaliation by prison officials. Since the storm, the prisoners have been limited to five emails and five short phone calls per person for the month.
Multiple prisoners and their relatives detailed how the lack of running water caused some men to defecate in bags, and others to drink contaminated toilet water. Many say they have seen men lose consciousness in the units, succumbing to the extreme heat and putrid fumes wafting through the cellblocks from bags of ...