You must read the story of Kalief Browder in the Oct. 6 issue of the New Yorker, about how three years of this young, black man’s life were wasted away in the notorious Rikers Island prison, all because the criminal justice system couldn’t get its shit together. As with the “Central Park Five,” Browder was picked up by police after being fingered for a crime that no one, including his accuser, had evidence he committed. He was just 16 years old.

The Rikers stay was supposed to be temporary, just long enough for him to get his day in court, because he refused to plead guilty. The district attorney’s office never was able to pull a case together on him, and his accuser ended up disappearing. Browder was 20 years old when he was finally released from jail. He missed his high school graduation, lost contact with his friends and family, and came out mentally and emotionally bruised from the ordeal. Of the 1,000-plus days he spent in the penitentiary, about 70 percent of it he spent in solitary confinement, mostly for defending himself against attacks from the inmates and prison staff, a daily operation, according to a recent Department of Justice investigation into Rikers.

Here’s a snapshot of Browder’s lockdown experience, from the New Yorker story (bolds are mine):

Summer is the worst time of year to be stuck in the Bing, since the cells lack air-conditioning. In the hope of feeling a breeze, Browder would sleep with the window open, only to be awakened at 5 A.M., when the cell filled with the roar of planes taking off from LaGuardia, one of whose runways is less than three hundred feet from Rikers. He would spend all day smelling his own sweat and counting the hours until his next shower. He thought about the places he would have been visiting if he were not spending the summer in jail: Mapes Pool, Coney Island, Six Flags. One day, when he called home to talk to his mother—he was allowed one six-minute call a day while in solitary—he could make out the familiar jingle of an ice-cream truck in the background.

I’m no lawyer, but those conditions sound like cruel and unusual punishment. And with climate change, those conditions are about to grow crueler — although more and more usual. Rikers is an island inside of the urban heat island New York City, where temperatures can be up to 20 degrees F hotter than in surrounding rural areas. Click on “New York” in Climate Central‘s infographic below to get more of the grizzly details: