Front of prison

Uncovering Climate Hazards in California’s Prisons

A San Francisco Chronicle article highlighted research by UCLA Luskin master of public policy students who found that California’s prison system is not prepared to respond to climate emergencies that threaten the well-being of the state’s incarcerated population. Their report, produced on behalf of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, used a mixed methods approach that included interviews with experts, a spatial analysis and a survey of nearly 600 currently incarcerated people in all 34 of California’s prison facilities. The study found evidence of power outages and generator failures, a lack of shade in outdoor spaces, and a lack of access to air-conditioned spaces or heated facilities during extreme weather events. Sixty-one percent of survey respondents said they experienced heat exhaustion while incarcerated. The researchers, MPP ’23 graduates Aishah Abdala, Abhilasha Bhola, Guadalupe Gutierrez, Eric Henderson and Maura O’Neill, offered a series of policy recommendations aimed at keeping incarcerated people safe, protecting taxpayer interests and ensuring that government institutions are held accountable.


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