OCALA, Fla. — Repairs are underway to restore an air-cooling unit at one of the dormitories at Lowell Correctional Institution, the Marion County prison for Florida’s female inmates.

  • AC unit fails in 1 dorm of prison for female inmates 
  • Department of Corrections says repairs are a priority
  • Additional fans brought to Lowell Correctional dorm

“Fixing this issue is a priority,” the Florida Department of Corrections told Spectrum News 13 on Tuesday.

The malfunctioning cooling unit was found Friday morning at Lowell, which has a capacity of 1,456 prisoners.

“Additional fans are being used to increase air circulation, uniform requirements have been relaxed and additional cool water resources are being supplied while the system is being repaired,” the agency’s statement added.

The inmates may have to be relocated to other dorms if the repairs are not completed soon or if the temperature rises above unspecified “acceptable levels.”

It was above 90 degrees in Ocala at 3 p.m. Tuesday. The “feels-like” heat-index temperatures in Central Florida are hovering in the 100s.

“The inmates are not confined to the dorm and are allowed to go out for recreation and canteen purchases,’’ the agency added.

A concerned citizen recently asked Spectrum News 13 to investigate Lowell’s air-conditioning problem.

Lowell is located east of Interstate 75 in unincorporated Marion County north of Ocala.

“All institutions utilize some form of climate control, including fans, exhaust systems and/or air conditioning in their housing areas,” the Florida Department of Corrections said. “Currently, 18 of Florida’s major institutions use air-conditioning in most of their housing areas.”

Air-conditioned housing units serve the most vulnerable inmate populations, including the infirmed, mentally ill, and geriatric, the department said.

“Housing units that are not air-conditioned incorporate a high level of air exchange provided by large exhaust fans,” the agency said.

These housing units also use additional fans, including ceiling or wall-mounted circulation fans, to cool the air. All housing units also provide refrigerated water fountains for inmates.

“General population inmates have access to air-conditioning in buildings designated for chapel, programs, classification, medical and administration,” the agency said.

Florida’s prisons are audited and comply with American Correctional Association standards for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.