The Heat Is On

By: Gunther Fiek

Posted by: Bob Chatelle

I want to thank those who comment or give me feedback on my posts. It is always encouraging when I hear from someone. I wish I had a chance to reply to any comments left but I have no internet access. However, Bob is kind enough to send me a copy of any comments left. A while back ago, I remember asking Bob whether anyone was reading any of my post. He advised me that he tries to share my post with others through different social media platforms that he is active on. I was much obliged for that and for his efforts.


The warm weather is upon us as is the scorching summer months. With it comes the one thing we have here in the South that I could never get used to: humidity. It certainly adds some degrees to the thermometer. I remember being able to escape it by staying indoors and enjoying the air-conditioning (AC) or jumping in the pool to refresh the body. We have neither one of those in prison. That’s right. No AC! At least not in the living units.

While there is AC in the administration buildings as well as in the chow hall (at some facilities — not all), we lack that amenity in just about every housing unit at most facilities within the DOC. Yes, it gets very hot and it is difficult to stay cool. Just about every maximum, close, medium and minimum security facility has no AC in the general population or segregation/isolation housing units. The exception being the three private facilities that the department contracts with to house some state inmates — a small percentage compared to the tens of thousands of inmates housed at state facilities.

Most housing units have exhaust fans located in the ceiling of the common area. Depending of the design of the dorm, it has between one to three of those exhaust fans. What they do is that they pull air – warm air – through vents and help circulate that air around thus throwing the hot air out. Does it help? Yes, it does to an extent. Some facilities have dorms that have industrial size fans mounted permanently around that helps with cool air. Some other facilities, however, roll some large fans to the dorm during the summer months. Nevertheless, as long as you sit or stand directly within the flow of air from those fans, you can find some relief from the heat.

Inside the cells it is a complete different story, though. The ventilation there is very poor. You open the window and nothing but very hot air comes in. But if you close the window, there is very little air circulation. If you are one of those inmates who have funds in your account thanks to family and friends, you are able to purchase a small personal fan from the commissary. You can only own one and it makes a difference inside the cell. And if your roommate has one too, you have been blessed. However, a great number of inmates are not as fortunate — specially if neither one of the roommates has a fan. Regardless of who has one, if you don’t own a fan it will get very hot inside the cell. You are nothing but a ball of sweat every night when you try to sleep.

Of course, it doesn’t help either that the water temperature in the showers is very hot. This varies at some facilities. At some, you can regulate the water temperature while at others you are at the mercy of whatever the administration has it set on. In most cases, the water temperature is always very hot. (Oh, how I miss a pool).

I’m very thankful that I have been fortunate enough to have a fan throughout my incarceration. I remember one time that my fan broke down in the middle of the summer. I couldn’t get it fixed so I placed an order for one and it took almost two weeks to get a new one. Those days without one were agonizing as were the 30 days I spent in segregation last summer without any fan (a story for another time). But it gave me more strength to endure those days knowing that there were others who have done some time, months or even years, without one. Anything is bearable if you are determined to put your mind to it. As the heat index rises within the next few weeks, I’m sure I will have more to share. Peace and blessings to everyone.