The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio is urging state officials to stop accepting payments from energy companies in exchange for temporarily shutting off power to prisons during peak periods.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections has said that 24 of 26 prisons are participating in a program where KOREnergy pays the department to switch to generator power when demand is at the highest.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that "power for lights, fans, televisions and other electrical devices was shut off on two afternoons for three to four hours" during the heat wave this week.

Most prisons in Ohio are not cooled with air conditioning.

Although the program has generated $1.3 million over three years, the Ohio ACLU warned this week that the savings was not worth the risk to inmates and custody staff.

"No matter what amount of money it is, it does not excuse us from treating them humanely," ACLU director of communications and public policy Mike Brickner told WKSU. "And it also doesn’t excuse putting staff members in a possible dangerous situation."

Listen to this audio from WKSU, broadcast July 19, 2013.

[Stock photo: Prisoner via]

(h/t: Think Progress)