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Incident Report by Hank Skinner, Jr.
(Prisoner's Cell On Fire, Help Delayed)

Status Report on Ellis Unit, and Observations of New Prisoner, John William King, convicted of the dragging death of James Byrd, Jr.
Karen Sebung

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News & Views

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Emile Duhamil died on death row last year from the intense heat.
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Removal of fans at Ellis unit

E-Mail Report Received Monday, 04.12.1999

Below: Medical Concerns

Here we are at the beginning of what promises to be another blistering hot texas summer, and the "game" of taking away fans from the prisoners has started all over again.

ALL the fans have been confiscated on the notorious "F" wing. Notorious, because it is a wing that has been designed to be the "solitary confinement" wing, to be used only as extraordinary punishment, and supposed to be only used for TEMPORARY punishment, not lasting more than 15 days.

Yet many prisoners have been there for more than many months, and at least one prisoner has been there for over a year (Hank Skinner) . (See also: Hank Skinner's report on a new, cruel incident involving some Ellis correctional officers.)

The prison officials have effectively turned this wing into "regular housing" by simply renaming it "F" wing... there are many many problems on this wing, which i will address in a later report, but for now i want to and need to focus this particular report on the FAN situation.

As some of you might recall: Emile Duhamil died on death row last year from the intense heat, due to the fact that the prison officials had taken away his fan, the only "cooling" implement in this texas prison.

At the very least it pushes around some of the otherwise stagnant air around in the cell(s.) There is NO air conditioning anywhere in this prison.

The temperature in the cells, especially in the higher tiers can (and has) reach(ed) up to 130 degrees, something even the prison officials have acknowledged. these conditions are INHUMANE and CRUEL.

WE need to start doing the same things we did last year; flooding the phone lines, writing letters, send faxes, etc., etc..

We do not want a repeat of last year. we were very effective in having the fans returned back to the prisoners, and now your help is needed once again. the reason for this urgency is multiple:

1. To bring it to the attention of the prison officials that we know what they are doing, and we want them to put a stop to it

2. Not to have another prisoner die from the heat, or almost die for that matter...

3. Property tends to get LOST from the property room at Ellis at an alarming rate...

4. There is a new warden at the Ellis unit. The Ellis phone number is (409) 295 - 5756. Fax: (409) 295 - 5756 ext. 133

Warden Morgan (I believe this is his name.)
Ellis Unit
Huntsville, Texas 77343

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From Dr. Daniel Wirt, Houston:

"Everyone should be aware that people on psychotropic medications (for example, those with schizophrenia on Haldol) are particularly susecptible to heat-related illness ("heat exhaustion" and "heat stroke").

Very briefly, this happens by two mechanisms:

1) a "central" effect, i.e. change in the brain at the level of the hypothalamus, where body heat regulation occurs — an effect on the thermostat, so to speak, and

2) a "peripheral" effect, reducing the ability to sweat, which is a major mechanism for dumping heat in humans.

Because of a case I've been involved in, I've been following heat stroke deaths among prisoners in Texas prisons. They kill off several every year there's a hot summer. In two places. In cells and on prison ("chain") buses, especially when the latter break down and they don't take the prisoners off the bus.

The two wardens at Ellis are Morgan and Dawson. I've got a call in.

Daniel P. Wirt, M.D.


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