With heat indexes going over 100 degrees in parts of upstate New York, there is a renewed focus on the impact that heat has on people who have to live and work in these conditions.

One of those places are New York’s prisons where workers and incarcerated people have to deal with these temperatures in older buildings.

State Sen. Pete Harckham joined Capital Tonight on Tuesday to discuss his legislation aimed at extreme heat in prisons.

In a statement to Capital Tonight, the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said they don’t comment on pending legislation but said: Historically, and as recently as June, 2024, when some or all of New York State’s correctional facilities have fallen under a heat warning or advisory, the Department has issued memos with recommendations for those susceptible to heat-related illnesses to take the necessary steps to stay cool as the temperatures rise; for staff and incarcerated individuals to remain hydrated; for staff to be cognizant of the signs and symptoms of heat illness in themselves and others; for evaluation of outside assignments to reduce exposure when necessary; and to pay special attention to all vulnerable populations. All incarcerated individuals are monitored for any signs or systems of heat-related illnesses and medical attention is provided as necessary.

Air conditioning is provided in medical areas, as well as the housing unit and dayroom of the nursery at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. All other housing units in DOCCS facilities are properly ventilated in accordance with national standards set by the American Correctional Association. Fans are used on the galleries and personal fans are available in the commissary.

The Department is also reviewing its role in the Extreme Heat Action Plan which was recently released by NYSERDA and DEC.”