GUIZERIX: Feeling the burn, and some empathy, during the heatwave

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, August 30, 2023

During what can only be described as the oppressive heat of the last month, my house has gotten hot.

Though the air conditioning repair man has tried, it seemed our upstairs HVAC unit was pushed to its limits. On the hottest days, the primary bedroom in my home was lucky to maintain a temperature of 82 degrees — not exactly comfortable, especially during the afternoon.

What ultimately fixed the problem, aside from these glorious few days of temperatures in the low 90s, was adding Freon to the system.

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Of course, that wasn’t done until my whole family had suffered through June, July and the early weeks of August.

When I learned about similar issues at the Warren County Jail this summer, I empathized with what the inmates and sheriff’s office personnel were going through. Of course, I live in a comfortable 140-year-old home and not a 140-year-old concrete cell, but a lack of cool air on the hottest days is something to which I could definitely relate.

After writing a story on the jail’s chiller being replaced by the county as part of an emergency purchase, I was surprised to see some reader feedback saying Warren County inmates deserved to live in overheated conditions. The approximately 100  inmates might be criminals, but they still deserve basic human rights and are protected from cruel and unusual punishment.

And as we can all attest, being exposed to record-breaking temperatures for too long is both cruel and unusual.

It’s no secret that the failing chiller is one of many issues with Warren County’s jail building, something the Warren County Board of Supervisors and Sheriff Martin Pace have worked hard over the years to correct. With a new jail complex in the design phase and site work underway, a more suitable place to house inmates is closer than it’s ever been.

Let’s hope in the next four-year term, the Supervisors will be able to keep the momentum going and fulfill their commitment to the community in building a new jail.

If not, I fear the heat will only increase.