The forecast high temperature for today, June 20, 2024, in Shreveport Louisiana is 93 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. In Lafayette, the high temperature is forecast to be 90 degrees. I am willing to bet that during the hottest part of today, you will see men and women working outside.

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Many of those workers, policemen, firemen, construction workers, and oil field hands will also be required to wear special clothing that will make the afternoon temperatures feel even hotter than the forecast highs suggest. Then there is a little matter of the humidity, that will make being outside during the heat of the day that much hotter and more life threatening.

Most of those individuals who will be on the job later today are also law-abiding citizens. You know the kind of folks that don't steal, deal, and kill? They also pay taxes with the salaries they earn and the products they buy with that money too.

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So you'd think in the eyes of society and the law these people, also known as us, would be held in a slightly higher regard than those who have been convicted of crimes and are currently living in the taxpayer-funded gated community that is known as Angola State Prison.

But maybe they, I mean we, are not as highly thought of and valued as our state's collection of ne'er do wells.

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A federal judge is considering a preliminary injunction that would block Farm Line Operations at Angola State Prison from using inmate labor during times of extreme heat. The language in the injunction defines extreme heat as 88 degrees. Now, look back at the top of the story, what's the high today in Shreveport and Lafayette?

Those who have asked for the injunction have suggested that inmates at Angola who are required to work on the Farm Line don't have adequate shade, sunscreen, or clean water and they are demanding that such heinous treatment of these law breakers be quelled and quantified. In other words, it's too hot for the prisoners to be outside working.

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The Louisiana Department of Corrections says such claims are unsubstantiated. The Department of Corrections says the temperature is monitored every two hours. When the heat index, not the temperature, the feels-like temperature reaches 88 degrees a heat alert is issued. When that happens workers are offered rest and water breaks every half hour. The LDC maintains the policy is constitutionally appropriate.

Does something about this seem a bit off to you?

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Look, I am all for protecting human life. But a lot of the inmates in Angola are in jail because they didn't protect human lives, in fact, they may have taken a life or two. I am finding difficulty in the "cruel and unusual" aspect of asking an inmate to do a job in conditions that law-abiding citizens are required to work in if they want to feed their families. To use a phrase from today's modern lingo, "that doesn't track" for me.

Does it for you?

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If it does, please explain why a hard-working man or woman who operates within society's guidelines must go work in the heat while an individual who obliterated the rights of others and broke the law gets to "sit the summer out".  Oh, and they'll still get fed, have a bed, and probably have some TV time too. Meanwhile, the hard-working man or woman won't have food, a bed, or a TV to watch if they don't get out in the heat and earn a paycheck.

As we mentioned a federal judge is considering an injunction. Representatives on both sides of this issue will meet in court on September 30th to present evidence supporting their side of the issue. I would love to say I am sure common sense will prevail but I don't think that's allowed in the courtrooms anymore.

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