The 15-year-old boy, stuck with the nightmarish memory of Orleans Parish Prison filling with floodwaters as New Orleans drowned last summer, said the stench won’t leave him. The New Orleans Times-Picayune says that the teenager, one of 150 juveniles trapped in the prison alongside thousands of adult inmates as Katrina roared ashore, said the horrors he witnessed were many. His story, along with other juvenile inmates’ accounts of being stranded in the prison and their harrowing trip out of town, was released yesterday in a report issued by the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana.
The report, “Treated Like Trash: Juvenile Detention in New Orleans Before, During and After Hurricane Katrina,” questions the competence of Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s staff in running the prison and calls for him to stop housing juveniles. Gsman’s office said it never again will house juvenile prisoners, but insisted the policy change was not in response to the report, which detailed a chaotic evacuation of shackled teenagers during the deadly flood. “All of Orleans Parish’s children in detention were inside OPP when Katrina made landfall,” said Derwyn Bunton of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana. “Like many things in our city, the storm only magnified deep flaws which already existed.”