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For most of the 23 years Romarilyn Ralston spent in a California prison, she made 37 cents an hour, unable to afford crafty birthday cards for her two sons, let alone the financial support she desperately wanted to give them. Ralston did clerical and recreational work at the California Institution for Women in Chino, while voluntarily training women who have recently made national headlines for being on the front lines of the state’s biggest wildfires.
A federal judge in Houston ordered a geriatric prison in Texas to help inmates overcome extreme heat and rising summer temperatures, referencing climate change in a groundbreaking ruling this week. U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison deemed it cruel and unusual that state corrections are aware of dangerous and lethal heat risks – at least 23 men in Texas prisons have died from the heat in the last 20 years – yet have failed to impose safeguards.
Prisons in some states are withholding newspapers from inmates amid a strike against prison conditions and billions of dollars worth of prison labor. The passing of the 13th Amendment in 1865 formally abolished slavery, but with a stipulation that enabled plantation owners to use prisoners as a replacement for the lost labor. As a group called the Free Alabama Movement rallied for a Sept. 9 labor strike in spring, prison authorities across the country began clamping down on news and information in ways that the ACLU says may be in violation of the First Amendment.