Do you feel sorry for Texas State Prison inmates who live n metal boxes without air conditioning in the state's blistering heat?  A civil rights group says you should.

 

  The Texas Civil Rights Project is suing the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division, claiming not having air conditioning in prison cells violates the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment protections agaisnt 'cruel and unusual punishment.'

 

  Project attorney Scott Medlock says the heat inside the state prison system is responsible for the deaths of 13 inmates.

 

  "All of them were thrown into these, essentially, ovens, where the heat stroke killed them pretty quickly," Medlock told 1200 WOAI's Michael Board.

 

  The state prison system says many of the state's large prison units were built in the 1950s and 1960s, before central air conditioning was generally available.  They say that retrofitting all of the units for a/c would be prohibitively expensive, and point out that it is not unusual for low income law abiding Texans to live in homes without air conditioning.

 

  Medlock isn't buying it.

 

  "The heat index (inside prison cells) has gotten as high as 130 degrees," he said.

 

  The Project's lawsuit seeks to have a judge order the state to install central air conditioning in all state prison units.

 

  Prison hospital wards are air conditioned, and officials say they provide ice and other amenities to convicts during the hot days of the summer.