Monday, September 26, 2005

Prisoners left to die

Reuters AlertNet has an article (also on Human Rights Watch) describing how prisoners in one New Orleans jail were abandoned in their cells when the hurricane hit:
"As Hurricane Katrina began pounding New Orleans, the sheriff's department abandoned hundreds of inmates imprisoned in the city's jail, Human Rights Watch said today. Inmates in Templeman III, one of several buildings in the Orleans Parish Prison compound, reported that as of Monday, August 29, there were no correctional officers in the building, which held more than 600 inmates. These inmates, including some who were locked in ground-floor cells, were not evacuated until Thursday, September 1, four days after flood waters in the jail had reached chest-level."
While some of the inmates were able to break out of their cells and help other inmates, many appear to have remained locked in their cells.
"According to inmates interviewed by Human Rights Watch, they had no food or water from the inmate's last meal over the weekend of August 27-28 until they were evacuated on Thursday, September 1. By Monday, August 29, the generators had died, leaving them without lights and sealed in without air circulation. The toilets backed up, creating an unbearable stench."
Not that it matters (leaving any human locked in a cell in rising flood waters without food and water is cruel and criminal), but "[m]any [of the prisoners] had not even been brought before a judge and charged, much less been convicted."

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