Lawsuit alleges prison vehicle with no air conditioning endangered lives

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A watchdog organization on prison conditions says a 61-year-old inmate in southern New Mexico was injured and endangered when transported in a sweltering van without air conditioning in the summer.

The New Mexico Prison & Jail Project announced Monday a lawsuit against the New Mexico Corrections department and two of its officers on behalf of an inmate who was confined for several hours to a van with no air conditioning on a summer day in 2019.

“Lawrence thought he was going to die,” said Adam Baker, an attorney bringing the suit. “You can’t put someone into an enclosed metal box in the middle of summer in New Mexico, for hours on end, without air-conditioning. Everyone knows that’s dangerous.”

There was a $2 million federal verdict against the state agency in a similar 2012 incident.