Enduring the Summer Heat in Prison


It has been absolutely, ridiculously, mind-numbingly hot this week here. The old brick building soaks up heat and radiates it back all day and all night. Go out to yard in the afternoon and the yard, for security reasons, has been designed to not have any area of shade, except of course, the small tough shed-type structure with the giant AC unit for the c/o’s to sit in between their hourly circuit of the yard.

Suffice to say, I am eternally grateful for my fan. It was bought for me by a woman named Melissa who was more a mother to me than anyone I have ever known and I had the privilege of calling her Mom for three years.

She died of breast cancer in the spring a few years back.

My one regret in our relationship was not coming out to her as trans before she passed.

Her kindness got me through a very dark time in my life and I can honestly say if she hadn’t been writing me for my first few years in prison, I would have killed myself. Her love kept me alive.

I said all that to say this. Right now there are prisoners in states like Texas, Alabama, Nevada, basically the whole South where it gets way hotter than here in Washington. And whereas Washington prisons have A/C units that usually break every few weeks, at least we get a little break every now and then. Plus, the work and school buildings usually have working A/C units. Some states in the South actually have laws against prisons having air conditioning because it is considered a luxury and the state doesn’t want to pay for it. People in prison are expected to buy the “luxury” of a fan when it is 102 degrees Fahrenheit and 90% humidity. People die in that kind of weather.

This is just another manifestation of the Empire’s ability to regulate life and the power to let die. Do nothing and people suffer, do nothing long enough and in the context of a total institution or a tyrannous regime and people don’t just suffer, they die in droves. A highly public example of this was Hurricane Katrina. Since then I’ve seen it more and more. Immigration. Healthcare. Homelessness. Education.


The power to let die is, as far as I am concerned, state-sponsored neglect unto death and tantamount to murder.

So what can I do? Well, all I can do is make people aware of it by writing about it on my blog (*adds check mark in the to do list*). On the other hand, what can you, my dear readers, do about it?

There are charities that buy fans for people in prisons that need them, and while I (regrettably) don’t have the names of any of them to direct you to, I have confidence in all y’all’s ability to use an Internet search engine.

So please, since I don’t have the ability to pay it forward, buy someone in prison a fan that needs one. You will definitely improve their quality of life, and you may just be the reason they live long enough to get out of prison.

In Loving Memory of Melissa Blake.


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