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Chowchilla Women's Prison Inmate Dies During Heatwave
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By Anthony Haddad
Published 2 days ago on
July 10, 2024

An inmate's death in a California women's prison during a heat wave underscores concerns over inadequate cooling measures and the potential violation of inmates' rights amid extreme heat conditions. (Shutterstock)

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An inmate at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla died Saturday amid the heat wave, raising concerns about extreme heat in prisons, The Sacramento Bee is reporting.

Adrienne Boulware’s family said she died from heat stroke, but prison officials suggested pre-existing health conditions were a factor. The coroner’s office is determining the official cause of death.

Boulware’s daughter, Michela Nelson, said her mother had long complained about the summer heat, noting the prison lacks air conditioning. “Something could have been done to prevent it. And she was so close to coming home — it’s like a slap in the face,” Nelson said. Boulware was set to be released in February 2025.

Issues with heat response extend beyond Chowchilla. Travis Martin, an inmate at Pleasant Valley State Prison, reported inadequate cooling measures and high temperatures. “We’re locked inside of a cell that’s greater than 90 degrees, and it’s dangerous,” he said.

California prison spokesperson Mary Xjimenez said housing units provide cooling relief, often through evaporative coolers and fans. However, advocates argue these measures are not consistently applied. A 2024 study found California ranks third in exposing inmates to hazardous heat days, behind Texas and Florida.

A heat advisory on the CDCR’s website warns of extreme heat and advises staying cool and hydrated. Boulware’s family frequently discussed her struggles with the heat. Inmates at Chowchilla, like Trancita Ponce, report extreme heat conditions and lack of response from officials.

Recent indoor heat regulations in California exempt prisons, citing financial burdens. This exemption allows continued extreme heat exposure for inmates. Carter White, a UC Davis law professor, argued that such conditions could violate the Eighth Amendment. Advocates call for immediate action to cool facilities and prevent further heat-related illnesses or deaths.

Read more at The Sacramento Bee

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Anthony Haddad,
Multimedia Journalist
Anthony W. Haddad, who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with his undergraduate degree and has an MBA at Fresno State, is the Swiss Army knife of GV Wire. He writes stories, manages social media, and represents the organization on the ground.

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