a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Louisiana sheriff wanted for questioning

Posted by Thomas Nephew on September 29th, 2005

That would be Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin N. Gusman, by me, anyway, along with the warden of the Templeman III prison facility, among others. Somebody has a lot to answer for.

Human Rights Watch is reporting that hundreds of prisoners were abandoned to rising floodwaters in their cells, and that they can not account for 517 prisoners in all.

“They left us to die there,” Dan Bright, an Orleans Parish Prison inmate told Human Rights Watch at Rapides Parish Prison, where he was sent after the evacuation.

As the water began rising on the first floor, prisoners became anxious and then desperate. Some of the inmates were able to force open their cell doors, helped by inmates held in the common area. All of them, however, remained trapped in the locked facility.

“The water started rising, it was getting to here,” said Earrand Kelly, an inmate from Templeman III, as he pointed at his neck. “We was calling down to the guys in the cells under us, talking to them every couple of minutes. They were crying, they were scared. The one that I was cool with, he was saying ‘I’m scared. I feel like I’m about to drown.’ He was crying.”

Some inmates from Templeman III have said they saw bodies floating in the floodwaters as they were evacuated from the prison. A number of inmates told Human Rights Watch that they were not able to get everyone out from their cells.

Hopefully, this will prove a false alarm:

Human Rights Watch compared an official list of all inmates held at Orleans Parish Prison immediately prior to the hurricane with the most recent list of the evacuated inmates compiled by the state Department of Corrections and Public Safety (which was entitled, “All Offenders Evacuated”). However, the list did not include 517 inmates from the jail, including 130 from Templeman III.

I hope they are all found. But I sure wish I didn’t know what I do about some of the body disposal services the good folks of FEMA and the state of Louisiana have lined up. Lindsay Beyerstein comments:

The criminality of the evacuees was immediately exaggerated, but the crimes of the authorities are only gradually coming to light.

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