ACLU Details Post-Katrina Inmate Woes; Sheriff Cites “Lies”


At least two miscarriages for inmates who didn’t get medical help. A sheriff’s deputy lost a toe because of an untreated injury. Frequent volleys of rubber bullets and bean bags fired at inmates by overwhelmed deputies. Exaggerations by Orleans Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman about his actions as Hurricane Katrina swamped the 6,400-inmate lockup. The New Orleans Times-Picayune says those are among findings and allegations by the American Civil Liberties Union in a 140-page report on the chaotic evacuation of Orleans Parish Prison after Katrina. The report repeats many previously reported findings but offers a new level of detail through dozens of first-hand accounts from deputies and inmates.

The prison, made up of 10 separate lockups, lost electricity and backup generators when it was inundated by floodwater. Stuck without food or water, inmates broke windows, burned blankets and rammed holes in buildings. The report was released with a letter to the U.S. Justice Department demanding a speedy completion of a previously promised FBI inquiry into the prison evacuation Said Gusman: “The lies of inmates and disgruntled former employees have already been addressed and discredited many times over. Compiling them one more time does not lend any more credibility to these untruths. Over 6,000 inmates were successfully evacuated from the jails in New Orleans during the worst natural disaster to ever befall the United States. There was no loss of life and no serious injury. Every single inmate was safely evacuated and has been accounted for.”


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