It's not all Batman here, you know. We also do culture!
The thing is, though, while you're no longer liable to get sentenced to life imprisonment for stealing a loaf of bread, that doesn't mean prison conditions have gotten any better. When winter hits hard, prisoners across the country -- from Texas to Pennsylvania to New Jersey -- report that they're often left to freeze, due to negligence and/or cruelty on the part of their jailers. "Every year we hear the same complaints [...] people are cold, they aren't getting the required warm clothing that the [Department of Corrections] is supposed to provide for people, the sweats and blankets," says Kelsey De Avila, a project director at Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS). "[Our clients say] the heat hasn't been turned on, windows are broken so cold is coming into the units, and when they ask for the clothing, they have to beg or ask multiple times."
This doesn't mean that things are any easier when the sun puts his hat on. Since 1998, at least 20+ people have died in prison as a result of extreme heat, while a study by the Prison Policy Initiative found that 13 states with hot climates don't have universal air conditioning -- which you might scoff at, but you'd be an asshole for doing so. These folks are already doing hard time, so wishing nausea, hallucinations, and death on them seems a bit much.
This situation is compounded by climate change; as the world's climate gets more screwed, we'll have less cold weather, sure, but states are going to be hotter for longer. The kicker? This should've been sorted a long, long time ago, too. In 1991, the Supreme Court ruled that cold temperatures and a failure by prisons to issue blankets could be considered a violation of the eighth amendment (Hey, remember that?). '91 also saw the publication of a damning report into prison conditions by Human Rights Watch.
"In almost all institutions Human Rights Watch visited, we heard complaints about the temperature," the report described. "At Starke [in Florida], many inmates complained about heat in the summer and cold in the winter; the same concerns were voiced by prisoners at the Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville. Most institutions we visited, including those in hot climates, were not air-conditioned."