Families Of Texas Inmates Say 30 Prisons Have Heating Issues

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelJanuary 8, 2018 9:07 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

More than 30 Texas prisons had heating issues this week, as much of the state experienced freezing temperatures, according to The Texas Inmate Families Association, an advocacy group. Relatives say broken heaters and windows as well as poor insulation contribute to cold conditions. But the Texas Department of Criminal Justice disagrees, and says all prison units do have adequate heating.

This isn’t the first time the TDCJ has had complaints about prison temperatures. The Texas Tribune’s Jolie McCullough explains the state agency is also facing a federal lawsuit over air-conditioning.

“About 75 percent of Texas prisons don’t have air-conditioning, all of them are supposed to have heating,” says McCullough. “But they are under a federal injunction right now in one prison where this lawsuit is focused on that says they have to provide air-conditioning for medically vulnerable inmates during the hot summer months.”

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice declined an interview with Texas Standard about this issue. But a spokesman said in a statement that if for some reason a heating system breaks, portable heaters are brought in or offenders are moved to areas that have working equipment.

Drivers in Austin buckled up more than any other city in Texas last year, according to a report released in September* by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. KUT’s Nadia Hamdan has more:

The study shows that Austin is top in the state when it comes to wearing seat belts – with a 95 percent usage rate. The lowest rate of use was in the east Texas city of Beaumont at 86 percent. The study took a sample of over 20,000 vehicles. Researchers not only checked if the driver wore the seat belt but if their front passenger did as well. The average rate of use statewide was 91 percent. But when the report looked at the use of seat belts on children in and around school zones, the average statewide was only 58 percent. State law requires that drivers and all passengers in a vehicle wear a seat belt. This includes adults in the back seat. Children under eight years of age must use a child safety seat or booster seat.

An earlier version of this story said the report was released Friday, January 5.

The top selling specialty license plate in Texas last year – offered by MyPlates.com– was its “classic black” design. Their offerings are separate from those of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

Steve Farrar, President of MyPlates.com, says the market for specialty license plates in Texas has been growing every year.

“We’re selling around about 44,700 plates this last year,” he says. “When we first started back in 2009, I think we only sold about 12,000 plates to the market.”

The top-selling sports-themed plate was for the Dallas Cowboys and the top selling college plate was for Texas A&M University.