A federal judge in Houston has ordered the Texas prison system to provide safe drinking water to inmates at the Pack Unit in Navasota, saying the unit’s arsenic-laden well water “violates contemporary standards of decency.”

U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison said the Wallace Pack Unit, a low security facility in Grimes County that holds elderly and sick inmates, has 15 days to replace its water supply.

The emergency motion to replace the drinking water was filed by a group of inmates suing the state on the grounds that the lack of air conditioning during the hot summer months is a form of “cruel and unusual punishment.”

The Pack Unit houses mostly elderly, ill and disabled inmates who may take medications that make them especially vulnerable to heat-related illness.

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