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New Orleans Times Picayune: Angola prison heat trial wraps up as judge confirms visit to Louisiana’s death row

By Lauren McGaughy, NOLA.com | The Times Picayune 

August 07, 2013

A federal court judge in Baton Rouge will decide whether three inmates on Angola prison’s death row are put at a higher risk of illness and death due to high temperatures at the state penitentiary. The outcome of the federal suit will be determined by the judge’s reading of their disability rights as well as the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause of the Eight Amendment.

During closing remarks Wednesday, plaintiffs’ counsel Nilay Vora said the defense relied too heavily on the three inmates’ previous medical records and not on the issue of “future risk.”

He added the only difficulty the state cited in installing air-conditioning or other cooling systems would be cost, but said the prison budget does not include funds brought in by the controversial biannual rodeo or filming done on site.

He closed by saying the public interest was clearly at stake in any case where a person’s constitutional rights are being violated, and added the issue fell into what constituted the “evolutionary standard of decency that marks the progress of a maturing society.”

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