NJ prisoners don’t deserve the luxury of air conditioning (Opinion)
A report from the NJ Department of Corrections ombudsman was released this week bemoaning the fact that many prisoners don’t reside in the comfort of air conditioning.
First you may wonder, what is this ombudsman office?
“The Office of the Corrections Ombudsperson acts as an independent set of eyes and ears for the public, opening up the otherwise closed world of prisons. The Office works to identify and address problems at the individual and system levels to ensure that people housed in New Jersey’s prisons:
Have their medical and mental health needs addressed,
Have reasonable access to their loved ones, and
Are engaged in productive activities to prepare them to return to the community.”
Huh. Isn’t that sweet. Is the government doing that much for all the prisoners’ victims?
So this laughable complaint regarding the lack of air conditioning comes with plenty of stats. East Jersey State Prison on the border of Rahway and Avenel has 87% of its prison beds without air conditioning. Garden State Correctional Facility has 74% of its population without air conditioning. And so on.
I’d be delighted if we could get these figures to 100%. Prisoners don’t deserve air conditioning. Does that even need to be pointed out?
It would cost tens of millions of dollars and an enormous undertaking to retrofit these older buildings. We taxpayers are already coughing up $54,020 per year per state prisoner to house them. There is absolutely no majority public appetite for spending more.
Especially when we have innocent little kids who have done no wrong to anyone sit in sweltering classrooms in June and September. Even if we did have the money to retrofit air-conditioned comfort into old buildings common decency says give it to the schools, not the prisons.
Corrections officers of course we feel bad for. But we’d have to assume not every moment of their long shifts are spent in the un-air-conditioned portions of the facilities.
Callers Wednesday to our show decried any effort to install air conditioning in Jersey’s prisons, and many pointed out they go through all the hot months working hard for an honest living in sweltering conditions. Cooks in broiling kitchens. Crews working with asphalt. HVAC jobs in stiflingly hot attics. Welders. You name it.
If you’re going to suggest taking even a penny more out of their paychecks to give air conditioning to prisoners you’ve got some morally bankrupt priorities.
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.
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