ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year

Summer 2024



Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


Social Work

First Advisor

Allison Tomlinson

Second Advisor

Jaya Davis

Third Advisor

Anne Nordberg


The State of Texas supports the largest prison system in the US and held 132,859 people in 100 units scattered across the state as of December 2023. Approximately 70% of Texas prison beds are not air conditioned, despite the state’s reputation for dangerously hot, humid summers. The State has officially recorded temperatures inside Texas prison facilities as high as 120 degrees with heat index values of over 150. Although there is a growing body of research on the negative physiological and psychological consequences of extreme heat among the general public, little is known about the physical and emotional toll of extreme indoor heat on the incarcerated population. This study analyzes TDCJ unit-level longitudinal quantitative data from 2012 through 2023 supplied by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to determine if a correlational relationship exists between inmate suicide rates and hot summer temperatures within the Texas prison system.


Texas Prison Heat, Heat, Air Conditioning, Prison Temperaturel, Prison Mental Health, Prison Suicide, Prison Death, Heat Related Prison Suicide, Texas Department of Criminal Justice


American Politics | Civil Law | Constitutional Law | Criminal Law | Criminology | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Disability Law | Environmental Health | Environmental Policy | Health Law and Policy | Health Policy | Health Psychology | Human Rights Law | Law Enforcement and Corrections | Mental and Social Health | Other Psychology | Politics and Social Change | Public Interest | Public Policy | Social Justice | Social Policy | Social Statistics | Social Welfare | Social Welfare Law | Social Work | State and Local Government Law


Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



First of all, I want to thank my thesis committee. Thank you, Dr. Allison Tomlinson, for meeting with me week after week and providing your perspective, guidance, and often-needed encouragement regarding this project. Thank you to Drs. Anne Nordberg and Jaya Davis for so eagerly agreeing to help with my project as an over-excited student… a risky endeavor, indeed.

Thank you to Professor Diana Pryor for encouraging me to pursue a thesis, which I thought was out of reach. You are truly a human “Energizer Bunny,” full of light and positivity that affects your students in ways you may not fully realize.

To Dr Omesh Johar, for your patience, calming words, and dedication to teaching students how numbers can truly tell a “story.” I hope they tell a story for others in this case as they did for me.

Thank you to my old friend Ed Newman, who walked the “thin gray line” for 30 years in service for the residents of Texas and provided your unique perspectives and stories that brought life to this project.

Thank you to my family and friends who cut me “slack” while I obsessed over this study. I’m excited to rejoin you. Particularly to my husband and best friend in the world, Kevin, who provided countless hours of emotional support, as well as his nerdy technical expertise.



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