Official: State's refusal to cool death row isn't politics
BATON ROUGE - The head of Louisiana's prison system says politics isn't a factor in the state's refusal to install air conditioning on death row, even though a lawsuit over the facility's heat levels already has cost taxpayers more than $1 million.
Jimmy LeBlanc, the state's corrections secretary, attended a hearing Wednesday in federal court on whether the state is adequately protecting three death row inmates from dangerous heat and humidity levels.
During an interview, LeBlanc said air conditioning death row could open an expensive "Pandora's box" while his department is facing deep budget cuts.
The state insists cold showers, ice and fans are adequately protecting the inmates who sued LeBlanc's department three years ago.
The inmates' attorneys disagree. They're urging a federal judge to reconsider air conditioning as a requirement on death row.