With all the stories of heroism and tragedy in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, one group of people have been left out of sight and out of our hearts: the incarcerated men and women in our federal correctional facilities.
While Texas and Florida authorities safely relocated most of the inmates in the state prisons, the men and women who were locked in our federal prisons were not so fortunate. The Federal Bureau of Prisons stated it did not intend to evacuate its facilities in the paths of Hurricanes Irma or Harvey in Beaumont, Texas or in Florida. And based on reports from several of those facilities, prisoners were not evacuated, could not flee and continue to suffer.
As a result, some incarcerated people in the hardest hit areas in federal prisons were left in their cells to face the flooding, water shortages and power outages. If reports from family members and loved ones of people in these facilities are accurate, their living conditions violated the constitutional prohibition against “cruel and unusual” punishment.