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Tornado Damages Navasota Prison Unit

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A tornado struck a prison in Navasota late yesterday afternoon, damaging two pickets and the roof of a building outside the perimeter of the fence, according to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice press release.

All offenders and staff at Wallace Pack Unit are accounted for and there are no reported injuries. The prison holds about 1,150 inmates, plus 334 total employees, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website. 

In 2014, four inmates filed a federal lawsuit alleging they were being held in dangerously hot conditions. According to the Houston Chronicle, the inmates said in the lawsuit that it was so hot inside the pack unit that metal tables were too hot to touch and the metal-walled cell blocks were "like ovens."

"Pack is a geriatric unit that has hundreds of inmates over the age of 60, and hundreds more suffer from heat-sensitive medical conditions," Austin attorney Jeff Edwards, lead counsel in the case, told the Chron. "[Prison officials] know the temperatures at Pack put these prisoners in danger rather than cool the housing areas or move the prisoners to safe locations. They play Russian roulette with their health."

Later in 2014, the TDCJ found higher-than-normal levels of arsenic in the prison's water system, the Navasota Examiner reported.  

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