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Abandoned and Abused - Orleans Parish Prisoners in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina, ACLU, 2006

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COVER PHOTOGRAPH: A/P WIDE WORLD PHOTOS

Joyce Gilson

AUTHORS
National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union
Founded in 1972 by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National
Prison Project (NPP) seeks to ensure constitutional conditions of confinement
and strengthen prisoners’ rights through class action litigation and public education. Our policy priorities include reducing prison overcrowding, improving prisoner medical care, eliminating violence and maltreatment in prisons and jails, and
minimizing the reliance on incarceration as a criminal justice sanction. The Project also publishes a semi-annual Journal, coordinates a nationwide network of litigators, conducts training and public education conferences, and provides expert
advice and technical assistance to local community groups and lawyers throughout the country.

ACLU National Prison Project
915 15th Street NW, 7th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Tel: (202) 393-4930
Fax: (212) 393-4931
www.aclu.org

CO-AUTHORS & CONTRIBUTORS
American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana
The ACLU of Louisiana has protected traditional American values as a
guardian of liberty since its founding in 1956. Our mission is to conserve America’s original civic values embodied in the U.S. Constitution and the Louisiana
Constitution by working daily in the courts, legislature, and communities. We
defend the rights of every man, woman, and child residing in this state against
attempts by the government to take away or limit civil liberties and personal freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, as well as federal and state laws. The
ACLU of Louisiana provides its services free-of-charge, and without regard to a
person’s race, creed, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation.

American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Program
Created in 2004, the ACLU Human Rights Program is dedicated to holding the
U.S. government accountable to universal human rights principles in addition to
rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. We incorporate international human
rights strategies into ACLU advocacy on issues relating to national security, immigrants’ rights, women’s rights and racial justice.
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AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

ACLU of Louisiana
P.O. Box 56157
New Orleans, LA 70156-6157
Tel: (504) 522-0617
Toll Free: (866) 522-0617
Fax: (504) 522-0618
www.laaclu.org

ACLU Human Rights Program
125 Broad Street, 18th Fl.
New York, NY 10004
(212) 549-2500
www.aclu.org

American Civil Liberties Union, Racial Justice Program
The ACLU Racial Justice Program aims to preserve and extend constitutionally
guaranteed and other rights to segments of the population that historically have
been denied those rights on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin. Our
work involves challenges to racial discrimination and issues that have a direct or
disparate impact on communities of color, particularly in the areas of criminal
justice, education, and discrimination. In the area of criminal justice, we are dedicated to reducing the unwarranted and disproportionate targeting and incarceration of people of color. In the area of education, we seek to ensure that all
children have access to quality education, regardless of race or ethnicity. Specifically, we have filed civil challenges to the inadequate provision of indigent criminal and juvenile defense, pre- and post-9/11 racial profiling, and disparate
educational opportunities. We also have done litigation and other advocacy,
including public education and community organizing, against the racially disproportionate imposition of incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline.

Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch conducts regular, systematic investigations of human
rights abuses in some seventy counties around the world. Our reputation for
timely, reliable disclosures has made us an essential source of information for
those concerned with human rights. We address the human rights practices of
governments of all political stripes, of all geopolitical alignments, and of all ethnic
and religious persuasions. Human Rights Watch defends freedom of thought and
expression, due process and equal protection of the law, and a vigorous civil society; we document and denounce murders, disappearances, torture, arbitrary
imprisonment discrimination, and other abuses of internationally recognized
human rights. Our goal is to hold governments accountable if they transgress the
human rights of their people. Human Rights Watch contributed to the section of
the report on the abuse of prisoners at the Jena Correctional Facility.

Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana
The Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana’s mission is to transform the juvenile
justice system into one that builds on the strengths of young people, families and
communities in order to instill hope and to ensure children are given the greatest
opportunities to grow and thrive. Our goals are:
•
to create and support an effective and innovative juvenile defense system;
•
to alleviate unconstitutional conditions of confinement for juveniles, both
pre- and post-adjudication; and
•
to work collaboratively with existing organizations and resources to develop and
expand rehabilitation efforts and alternatives to incarceration for juveniles.

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is America's
first not-for-profit civil rights law firm. It's mission is to transform the promise of
equality into reality for African Americans and, ultimately, all individuals in the
areas of education, political participation, economic justice and criminal justice.
LDF has long been involved in racial justice litigation and advocacy in the Gulf
South. LDF's current priorities include seeking to bring justice to African Americans through fair jury selection practices and adequately funded indigent defense
systems. Since Hurricane Katrina, LDF has devoted significant resources to
working on behalf of the Katrina diaspora, including advocating for voter protection, educational access and criminal justice reform in Orleans Parish.
Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, LDF was initially
affiliated with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
but has been an entirely separate organization since 1957. LDF contributed to the
section of the report on the abuse of prisoners at the Jena Correctional Facility.

Safe Streets/Strong Communities
Safe Streets/Strong Communities is a coalition of community organizers, advocates
and attorneys whose mission is to transform the New Orleans criminal justice system into one that creates safe streets and strong communities for everyone, regardless of race or economic status. Safe Streets envisions a public safety system that:
•
keeps people safe from all forms of violence and crime including street
violence, domestic violence, and law enforcement violence;
is transparent, democratic, fair and accountable to the community it serves; and
•
supports community-driven responses to crime that are based in best practices.
•
Safe Streets seeks reform of the New Orleans Police Department, the Orleans
Parish jail system, and the Orleans Parish criminal court system, including the
indigent defense system, in order to achieve our vision of real public safety.

ACLU Racial Justice Program
125 Broad Street, 18th Fl.
New York, NY 10004
(212) 549-2500
www.aclu.org

Human Rights Watch
350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10118
Tel: (212) 290-4700
Fax: (212) 736-1300
www.hrw.org

Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana
1600 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard
New Orleans, LA 70113
Tel: (504) 522-5437
Fax: (504) 522-5430
www.jjpl.org

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
99 Hudson Street, Suite 1600
New York, NY 10013-2897
Tel: (212) 965-2200
Fax: (212) 226-7592
www.naacpldf.org

Safe Streets/Strong Communities
1600 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard
New Orleans, LA 70113
Tel: (504) 522-3949
Fax: (504) 522-5430

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Albert G. Couvillion

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The authors wish to thank the following among the many individuals from various partner organizations who contributed sections of the report: Joe Cook,
Executive Director, and Katie Schwartzmann, Staff Attorney for the ACLU of
Louisiana; Derwyn Bunton, Associate Director, and Megan Faunce, Youth
Advocate, for the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana; Ursula Price, Outreach
and Investigation Coordinator, Xochitl Bervera, former Interim Co-Director,
Norris Henderson, Co-Director, Barry Gerharz, former Legal Coordinator, and
Evelyn Lynn, Managing Director, of Safe Streets/Strong Communities; Vanita
Gupta, former Assistant Counsel, Olga Akselrod, former Assistant Counsel,
Damon, Inc., Todd Hewitt, Assistant Counsel, and Vivian Intermont, Paralegal
for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; E. Vincent Warren,
Senior Staff Attorney, Reginald T. Shuford, Senior Staff Attorney, Laleh Ispahani, Senior Policy Counsel, Nicole Dixon, Paralegal, and Sean Murray, Intern
for the Racial Justice Program of the American Civil Liberties Union; King
Downing, National Coordinator for the Campaign Against Racial Profiling of
the American Civil Liberties Union; Chandra S. Bhatnagar, Human Rights
Advocacy Coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union; Jamie Fellner,
Director, and Alison Parker, Acting Director of the U.S. Program for Human

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AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

Rights Watch; and Corinne Carey, former Researcher for Human Rights Watch,
and now Deputy Director for Break the Chains.
This report focuses on the experience of thousands of individuals who were
trapped in Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) during and after Hurricane Katrina, and
discusses the nightmare that many of them later faced at various receiving facilities
around the state. The authors wish to thank the more than 1300 OPP evacuees
who contacted the NPP to discuss their experiences. The same applies to former
deputies, staff members, and family members of evacuees who discussed their own
experiences during and after the storm. Special thanks are due to the individuals
whose experiences and, in some cases, photographs, appear in this report. For
many of these individuals it was incredibly difficult to recount what they went
through during and after the storm, not only because of the suffering they endured,
but also because they lost loved ones as a result of Katrina.
This report could not have been completed without the regular input and guidance the authors received from attorneys and activists on the ground in New
Orleans. The difficulty of locating and identifying prisoner-evacuees in the weeks
and months after the storm was enormous, and dozens of Louisiana criminal
defense lawyers—led by attorney Phyllis Mann—volunteered their time not only
to locate these individuals, but also to represent them in court. Among the many
on whom we relied, the authors wish to recognize Ben Cohen, Meg Garvey,
Mary Howell, Julie Kilborn, Rachel Jones, Katherine Mattes, Pamela Metzger,
and Neal Walker. Their work this past year to defend displaced and voiceless
Louisiana prisoners in the most difficult of all circumstances served as an abiding inspiration to this report’s authors.
The daunting process of distributing questionnaires to thousands of OPP evacuees who were dispersed to some three dozen prisons and jails across Louisiana
was directed by Alicia Gathers, Legal Assistant for the NPP, with the help of
NPP staff Gina Bigelow, Larry Caldwell, and Johnice Galloway. It was essential
that the authors organize the vast number of letters and phone calls we received
from OPP evacuees over the past eleven months. Michael Robinett, a contract
attorney for the NPP, began this process soon after Katrina hit. Numerous
undergraduate and law school volunteers prepared hundreds of additional summaries, researched discrete legal issues, and interviewed individuals whose stories appear in this report. These volunteers included: Egya Appiah, Iselin
Gambert, Meron Hadero, Wendy Heller, Rumbi Mabuwa, Emi MacLean,
Eamon Kevin Nolan, Naila Siddiqui, and Steven Siger. The law firm of Steptoe
& Johnson, LLP, generously volunteered assistance in designing a database to
track OPP evacuee letters, without which it would have been impossible to conduct follow-up interviews with so many of the individuals who stories are contained in this report. Individuals from the ACLU of Georgia, the ACLU of
Eastern Missouri, the ACLU of Louisiana, and the ACLU of Texas also volunteered to meet with OPP evacuees and former deputies to obtain their photographs.
The authors also wish to thank Riah Buchanan and Todd Drew, who are responsible for the layout and design of the report, as well as Terence Dougherty, Louise
Choi, and Nyasha Laing, who secured all necessary licenses for this report. Many
of the above-named individuals, as well as by Barbara Spilka, edited the report.
Simply put, this report would not have been possible without the help, encouragement, and dedication of all of those listed here.
— Eric Balaban, Staff Attorney, and Tom Jawetz, Litigation Fellow
National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union

5

TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S
Authors .................................................................................................................3
Co-Authors & Contributors.................................................................................3
Acknowledgments ................................................................................................5

Executive Summary ......................................................................................9
Methodology .........................................................................................................9
Recommendations ..............................................................................................10
Recommendations to Local and State Officials ................................................10
Recommendations to Federal Authorities ........................................................11

I. Orleans Parish Prison ............................................................................13
A. The Unchecked Growth of Orleans Parish Prison ....................................13

Fines and Fees ..................................................................................................14
B. A Brief History of Problems at OPP ...........................................................14
C. Recent Deaths at OPP .................................................................................15
THE DEATH OF SHAWN DUNCAN ..........................................................................16

D. Racial Justice and OPP ................................................................................17
E. Legal Protections for Prisoners ...................................................................17

1. Domestic Legal Protections .....................................................................17
2. International Legal Protections ...............................................................17

II. Preparing for the Storm .......................................................................19
A. What Makes a Good Emergency Operations Plan? ...................................20
GLYENDALE AND COREY STEVENSON ..................................................................22

B. What Was the Emergency Operations Plan at OPP? .................................23
BRADY RICHARD, MEDICAL SUPPLY OFFICER ......................................................24

The Nebraska Emergency Plan .....................................................................27

III. The Descent into Chaos .....................................................................29
A. The Phones Go Dead ...................................................................................29
B. The Prison Goes into Lockdown .................................................................30
RAPHAEL SCHWARZ .............................................................................................31

C. Power Is Lost and the Generators Quickly Fail .........................................32
D. Abandoned By the Sheriff, Many Deputies Abandon Their Posts............32
DEPUTY RHONDA R. DUCRE .................................................................................34

E. Trapped: Prisoners Remain on Lockdown as Floodwaters Rise...............35
THE DEATH OF IRIS L. HARDEMAN

.......................................................................36

ALBERT G. COUVILLION ........................................................................................38

F.

Food and Water Are Nowhere to Be Found...............................................39

G. Denial of Medical Care ................................................................................39
KEANNA HERBERT ................................................................................................41
THE DEATH OF TYRONE LEWIS .............................................................................44

H. Violence Breaks Out Between Panicked Prisoners....................................45
PEARL CORNELIA BLAND

I.

.....................................................................................46

Prisoners Attempt to Escape Increasingly Dangerous Conditions............47

QUANTONIO WILLIAMS .........................................................................................48
LEROY P. GARDNER, III .........................................................................................50

J. Officers Use Force to Contain Prisoners Until the Evacuation ................53

Beanbag Guns, Tasers, and Pepper Spray ...........................................53
DEPUTY RENARD REED

........................................................................................55

IV. Leaving Orleans Parish Prison .........................................................57
A. Breakdowns in the Chain of Command ......................................................57
DEPUTY DUANE LEWIS

.........................................................................................58

B. The Evacuation Finally Begins ...................................................................59

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AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

JOYCE GILSON

.....................................................................................................60

C. Prisoners Were Held for Hours in Central Lock-

Up Before Being Evacuated by Boat...........................................................61
D. Reports of Deaths Inside OPP.....................................................................62

V. The Overpass...........................................................................................65
VI. Juveniles at OPP ...................................................................................67
A. The Move to OPP .........................................................................................67
B. Last Meals.....................................................................................................67
ASHLEY AND RUBY ANN GEORGE

........................................................................68

C. Heat, Humidity and No Drinking Water.....................................................69
D. Flooding ........................................................................................................69

1. Inside OPP ................................................................................................69
2. Outside OPP .............................................................................................69
E. No Medical Care ..........................................................................................69
F.

Youth Are Beaten by Guards.......................................................................69

G. Arriving at JCY............................................................................................70

VII. Sheriff Gusman’s Denials..................................................................71
VIII. Problems at Receiving Facilities ...................................................73
A. Elayn Hunt Correctional Center.................................................................73

1. Rampant Assaults of Prisoners Abandoned on the Football Field........74
RONNIE LEE MORGAN, JR.

...................................................................................75

2. Lack of Food.............................................................................................76
3. Lack of Medical Attention .......................................................................77
B. Bossier Parish Maximum Security Jail .......................................................77
TIMOTHY ORDON ..................................................................................................78
IVY R. GISCLAIR ....................................................................................................79

C. Ouachita Parish Correctional Center .........................................................80
VINCENT NORMAN ................................................................................................81

D. Jena Correctional Facility............................................................................82
KEITH M. DILLON ..................................................................................................84

E. Not All Bad...................................................................................................85

IX. Business as Usual: The Return of Prisoners to OPP .............87
A. The Sheriff Prematurely Reopens OPP......................................................87

Doing “Katrina Time”: Indigent Defendants Languish in Jails
and Prisons Throughout the State ................................................................88
Incompetent Defendants ...................................................................................89
1. No Evacuation Plan Can Be Located .....................................................89
2. Adequate Medical Care Is Not Available for
Chronically Ill Prisoners ..............................................................................89
3. The Reopened Buildings Remain Damaged and in Need of Repair ......90
4. Severe and Sustained Overcrowding.......................................................90
THE DEATH OF KERRY ANTHONY WASHINGTON

..................................................91

B. The Decision to Reopen Orleans Parish Prison:

The Business of Incarceration .....................................................................92

X. Conclusion................................................................................................93
Endnotes .........................................................................................................94
Appendix........................................................................................................109

7

Waterline from
Hurricane
Katrina makes
its mark on
Orleans Parish
Prison

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AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

E X E C U T I V E S U M M A RY
In the days following Hurricane Katrina, the public was
inundated with stories of personal tragedies that were unfolding day by day in the city of New Orleans and throughout the
Gulf Coast region. Some reports were of amazing rescues,
but much of the coverage focused on the disaster within the
disaster—the thousands of men, women, and children left
stranded around New Orleans, in their homes, the Louisiana
Superdome, and the Convention Center.
But just a few miles away from the Superdome and the
Convention Center, another disaster within the disaster was
developing at Orleans Parish Prison (“OPP”), the New
Orleans jail. During the storm, and for several days thereafter, thousands of men, women, and children were abandoned at OPP. As floodwaters rose in the OPP buildings,
power was lost, and entire buildings were plunged into darkness. Deputies left their posts wholesale, leaving behind prisoners in locked cells, some standing in sewage-tainted water
up to their chests. Over the next few days, without food,
water, or ventilation, prisoners broke windows in order to get
air, and carved holes in the jail’s walls in an effort to get to
safety. Some prisoners leapt into the water, while others
made signs or set fire to bed sheets and pieces of clothing to
signal to rescuers. Once freed from the buildings, prisoners
were bused to receiving facilities around the state, where, for
some, conditions only got worse. At the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, thousands of OPP evacuees spent several days
on a large outdoor field, where prisoner-on-prisoner violence
was rampant and went unchecked by correctional officers.
From there, prisoners went to other facilities, where some
were subjected to systematic abuse and racially motivated
assaults by prison guards.
At the time, public officials and traditional news media
said little about the OPP prisoners. The first reports from
government officials were based on rumors that prisoners
had rioted and taken over parts of the jail complex. New
Orleans City Council President Oliver Thomas told a local
television station that rioting prisoners had taken a deputy, his
wife, and their four children hostage.1 Louisiana’s Department of Public Safety and Corrections received a report that
prisoners had taken over an armory on the 10th Floor of an
OPP building and that a firefight was in progress.2 These

claims, like so many that were repeated in the days after the
storm, were never substantiated.3
The first accounts of what really happened at OPP during and after Hurricane Katrina came to light once the prisoners started recounting their experiences to family
members, lawyers, and local and national civil rights and
human rights organizations. The picture that emerged from
all of these accounts was one of widespread chaos, caused in
large part by inadequate emergency planning and training by
local officials, and of racially motivated hostility on the part of
prison officials and blatant disregard for the individuals
trapped in the jail.
For many of the prisoners whose stories appear in this
report, the nightmare continues to this day. At present, OPP
evacuees sit in facilities around the state awaiting long-overdue trials on minor charges. Nearly every day, attorneys discover another prisoner whose case has slipped through the
cracks. These are prisoners doing “Katrina time,” as it has
come to be known.4 Some prisoners have even been returned
to a reopened OPP, which is now overcrowded and dangerous, full of post-Katrina hazards that Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin N. Gusman failed to repair in his haste to
repopulate the jail.
This report seeks to provide a comprehensive picture of
what the men, women, and children at OPP endured before,
during, and after the storm. It is written to capture their
experiences, so that their voices can be heard.5 In the year
since the storm, the Sheriff has denied many of the claims
made in this report, at times referring to the OPP evacuees
simply as liars,6 and at other times as “crackheads, cowards
and criminals.”7 This report is intended to serve as their unified response.

Methodology
The report is the result of an eleven-month investigation by
local and national activists and attorneys. In the weeks after
the storm, criminal defense attorneys around Louisiana traveled to dozens of jails and prisons to generate lists of prisoners who had been dispersed following Katrina. Based upon
these lists, in October and November 2005, the National
Prison Project of the ACLU mailed approximately 2000
questionnaires to OPP evacuees in over 20 different facilities;
these questionnaires asked prisoners to describe their experiences during and after the storm.8 The ACLU has since
received and reviewed written accounts from over 1300 prisoners who were in OPP when Katrina struck.
We, along with each of the co-authors and contributors
to this report, have also interviewed hundreds of these and
other OPP evacuees, their family members, as well as former
OPP deputies and staff. In addition, we have interviewed
current and recently released OPP prisoners regarding the
living conditions in the reopened OPP buildings, and have
reviewed court documents and public records produced as
part of federal civil rights lawsuits challenging unconstitutional conditions at the jail.
In general, this report does not cover the experiences of
other prisoners in the state of Louisiana who were affected
by Hurricanes Katrina or Rita. The one exception is con-

9

tained in the section of the report discussing the experiences
of prisoners from Calcasieu and Jefferson parishes who
endured systemic abuse at the Jena Correctional Facility
(Jena), where they were evacuated as a result of Hurricanes
Katrina and Rita. Volunteer defense attorneys initially interviewed all of the individuals at Jena. Members of Human
Rights Watch (HRW) and the NAACP Legal Defense and
Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) interviewed many of these
prisoners a second time.

Recommendations
In order to move forward with a jail that is more cost-effective, humane, and that ensures real public safety, local, state
and federal officials should consider implementing the following recommendations:

Recommendations to Local and State Officials
The Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office,9 the City of New
Orleans, and the State of Louisiana Department of Public Safety
and Corrections
Design and implement a coordinated emergency plan to
ensure that all prisons and jails are capable of quickly and
safely evacuating before the next disaster strikes. An organization such as the National Institute of Corrections is capable
of evaluating the emergency preparedness of individual jails
and prisons, as well as entire correctional systems. In the
months after the storm, the Louisiana Department of Public
Safety and Corrections (“DOC”) commissioned the National
Institute of Corrections to prepare a Technical Assistance
Report (“NIC Technical Assistance Report”) to evaluate,
among other things, its performance in assisting Orleans and
Jefferson parishes in evacuating their jails. Although the state
has refused to release the report to the public, it is encouraging
that DOC took the time to learn from the Hurricane Katrina
experience.10 To date, it does not appear that the Orleans
Parish Sheriff or any other local official in New Orleans has
shown a similar interest in evaluating their performance.
Only by analyzing—honestly—what happened before, during,
and after Hurricane Katrina, will it be possible for New
Orleans to respond better when the next hurricane hits.
Downsize the jail by ending the practice of holding state
and federal prisoners. On August 29, 2005, the day Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, OPP was holding nearly 2000
DOC prisoners.11 This number represented close to one-third
of the total OPP population, and three times as many DOC
prisoners as were held in any other parish.12 The small
amount of money given by the state to OPP to house these
people is insufficient to provide them with adequate programming, medical care, or mental health care. Over 200 of the
prisoners at OPP during the storm were in federal custody,
charged with violations of federal criminal law or federal
immigration law.13 Given the tight fiscal situation of the city
and the structural problems that are created by housing thousands of prisoners in what should be a county jail, OPP
should not be rebuilt to host state or federal prisoners.

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AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

Implement reforms to decrease the number of pre-trial
detainees held at OPP. Sixty percent of OPP’s population
before Hurricane Katrina was made up of individuals held
on attachments, traffic violations, or municipal charges,14
such as parking violations, public drunkenness, and failure to
pay a fine. Pre-trial diversion programs, bail reform, and citeand-release arrest policies are all examples of possible means
by which the city of New Orleans could reduce this population of people at the jail, while both saving money and ensuring public safety.
Convene a Blue Ribbon Commission to develop and implement a full set of recommendations for detention reform.
The first step to real reform is to bring together an investigative body comprised of local criminal justice stakeholders and
national detention experts to conduct a full assessment of the
New Orleans jail system and issue recommendations for
reform. These recommendations would include: 1) making
population projections at the short-, mid-, and long-term
range; 2) identifying the jail capacity needed for the city in
light of these projections; 3) assessing how to improve jail
conditions and programming; and 4) diagnosing current inefficiencies in the system that inflate both the jail population
and the cost of running the facility. Findings from the Blue
Ribbon Commission should be reported to the Mayor, City
Council, Sheriff’s Department and general public, and act as
a blueprint for system reform.
Reduce the use of juvenile detention by exploring viable
alternatives to detention. Since the storm, neither of the
juvenile detention facilities in Orleans Parish has been
reopened to house juveniles. Moreover, since the release of a
report detailing the plight of juveniles at OPP during Hurricane Katrina, Sheriff Gusman has pledged to no longer
house juveniles at OPP. However, just weeks later, the City
of New Orleans instituted a curfew for juveniles, and quickly
began detaining juveniles.15 For most kids, there is little risk
that they will commit a new offense before their court date or
that they will fail to appear for court.16 Therefore, there is no
public safety need served by locking children up wholesale
before their trials. Adopting alternatives could result in youth
being held in smaller, more therapeutic facilities. It would
benefit both the children and their communities for officials
to work with school systems to ensure that schools are not
referring youth to the police for incidents that can be handled
by the school or community. Children can be treated within
their communities through a number of programs. By locking a child in detention, especially an overcrowded detention
center, the risks for suicidal behavior and psychiatric illnesses are increased.17 Furthermore, youth are removed
from many of the safety nets that help them cope, such as
family, school, and community supports.18 It has been shown
that treating most children in their communities does not
compromise public safety and may in fact help improve it by
reducing recidivism.19
Begin to view detention as a process rather than a place.
Detention as a process refers to graduated levels of supervision and considers custody an act, rather than a physical
placement. This concept moves detention beyond the notion

of a single building, and instead embraces a wide variety of
services in the community. Viewing detention as process
opens the door to more alternatives and allows officials to be
more flexible, assigning levels of supervision to fit the particularized needs and risks of each offender. Many of the problems with the detention system stem from overcrowding.
This is a common scenario in detention systems across the
country. Overcrowding can affect the quality of basic services, such as medical and mental health care, and is the driving factor that leads to prisoner-on-prisoner violence. While
simply addressing the issue of overcrowding will not solve all
the problems, it will begin to make solving other problems a
bit easier. By embracing the concept of detention as a process
and developing effective alternatives to detention, Orleans
Parish can begin to address overcrowding and avoid the
onerous task of evacuating 6000+ prisoners.
Appoint an Independent Monitor. The Sheriff’s Office
should establish an Independent Monitor Office to review
OPP policies, procedures, critical incidents, complaints and
quality of complaint investigations. The Independent Monitor should make regular reports of its findings and recommendations to the public, elected officials and OPP staff.

called for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of
Justice to conduct an independent and impartial investigation
into the conduct of the state corrections staff at Jena. HRW
and LDF sent a letter to the Justice Department on October
7, 2005, asking for an investigation into the abuses that took
place at Jena in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.20 On
November 1, 2005, the special litigation section of the Justice
Department responded that because the Jena facility had
already been vacated, they were not authorized to conduct a
civil investigation of the facility. The letter also noted that the
Criminal Section requested that the FBI investigate the
abuse allegations.21 To date, no findings from an investigation
have been made public. Such an investigation should be
undertaken, and it ought to include, but not be limited to, the
treatment prisoners received at OPP, Hunt Correctional
Center, Bossier Parish Maximum Security Jail, Ouachita
Parish Correctional Center, and Jena. Any investigation
should include interviews with prisoners who were at the
facilities during the reported abuses, and findings from such
an investigation should be made public.

State of Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections
Work with local officials to implement a coordinated emergency response plan that works across departmental boundaries. Much of the responsibility for the chaos that ensued at
OPP after Katrina can be laid at the feet of local officials,
who failed to prepare for the storm and its aftermath. However, it is clear that the problems for OPP evacuees did not
end when they left New Orleans. The safe and orderly evacuation of thousands from OPP requires a coordinated effort
by officials on all levels of government. The state must ensure
that there is a clear line of command and communication
among state and local officials, that all necessary equipment,
vehicles, and personnel are available in the event of an evacuation, that personnel have been trained through disaster
drills, and that the receiving facilities are prepared to accept
evacuees.
Conduct regular audits of local jails holding state prisoners.
As outlined in this report, the problems at OPP began long
before Katrina struck. The state has a responsibility to
ensure that its prisoners who are in OPP and other local jails
are provided with the minimal necessities required under
state and federal law. In particular, the State Fire Marshal
must conduct regular inspections to ensure that adequate fire
and emergency evacuation procedures are in place, and that
staff are trained in these procedures.

Recommendations to Federal Authorities
United States Department of Justice
Commence an investigation into the treatment of prisoners
at OPP and at various receiving facilities, to discover
whether human and civil rights violations occurred. Following their interviews with prisoners at Jena, HRW and LDF

11

Orleans Parish
Prison Intake
Processing
Center after
the storm

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AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

I . O R L E A N S PA R I S H P R I S O N
A.

The Unchecked Growth of Orleans
Parish Prison

Long before Hurricane Katrina changed the landscape of
New Orleans, the term “Orleans Parish Prison” referred not
to a single jail building, but rather to the set of some twelve
buildings: Central Lock-Up, the Community Correctional
Center (“CCC”), Conchetta, Fisk Work Release, the House
of Detention (“HOD”), the Old Parish Prison, South White
Street, and Templeman buildings I through V.
The jail buildings are all located in downtown New
Orleans, in an area commonly called Mid-City. Each building is within several blocks of Interstate 10 and the Broad
Street Overpass that rises above the Interstate. The
Louisiana Superdome is approximately one mile to the
southeast of the jail complex, and the Convention Center is
approximately three miles away.
Built in 1929, the Old Parish Prison is the oldest of the
OPP buildings. Designed to house from 400 to 450 people,
the number of prisoners held there increased over time,
while the facility remained the same size.1 In order to deal
with the increasing population, other OPP buildings were
constructed. In 1974, when Charles Foti was elected Sheriff, OPP had a population of about 800 prisoners. By the
time Sheriff Foti left his position 30 years later, OPP’s
capacity had increased more than tenfold to approximately
8500 prisoners.
Before Katrina, OPP housed nearly 6500 individuals on
an average day. Although New Orleans is only the thirtyfifth most populous city in the United States, this made OPP
the ninth largest local jail.2 OPP housed even more people
than the notorious Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola
(“Angola”), which at 18,000 acres is the largest prison in the
United States.3 With a pre-Katrina incarceration rate of 1480
prisoners per 100,000 residents, New Orleans had the highest incarceration rate of any large city in the United States—
the incarceration rate was double that of the United States as

a whole, a country with the highest national incarceration
rate in the world.4
What makes OPP’s massive expansion so surprising is
the fact that it happened during a period of time when the
population of Orleans Parish decreased by over 100,000 people. During Sheriff Foti’s tenure, the capacity of OPP
increased nearly 1000% (from 850 to 8500), while the population of Orleans Parish decreased over 18% (from over
593,000 in 1970 to under 485,000 in 2000).5
Prior to Hurricane Katrina, 60% of OPP’s population on
any given day was made up of men and women arrested on
attachments, traffic violations, or municipal charges6 — typically for parking violations, public drunkenness, or failure to
pay a fine. Most of the prisoners at OPP were pre-trial
detainees, meaning they had not been convicted of any crime.
Thus, aside from its enormous size, OPP’s population made
it resemble a local jail rather than a prison, which generally
holds individuals convicted of crimes that carry a sentence of
more than one year of incarceration.7
As OPP’s population exploded, the categories of persons
held at the jail changed. In 1970 there were only four to ten
women in the jail at any given time. At the time of Hurricane
Katrina, OPP held approximately 670 women.8
Like women, juveniles were also initially held in the Old
Parish Prison. Over time, the juvenile population was divided
between the Conchetta Youth Center (“CYC”), which was
part of the South White Street facility of OPP, and the cityowned Youth Study Center (“YSC”). Children who were
being tried as adults were housed alongside adult prisoners.
In the mid-1970s, OPP began to house prisoners on
behalf of Louisiana’s DOC. These prisoners had already
been convicted, and were awaiting bed space in the state’s
prisons. DOC decided to place some of its prisoners in local
jails in response to an April 1975 federal court order concluding that the conditions of confinement at the state’s overcrowded prisons violated the United States Constitution.9
This arrangement was initially proposed as a short-term
solution to the state’s overcrowding problems; once new dormitory beds were added to the Louisiana State Penitentiary
at Angola, the state prisoners were supposed to be transferred back into DOC custody. This never happened. “Sheriffs became accustomed to the cycle: a new prison would
open, most of the state prisoners would be taken from the
jails and then, inexorably, like flood waters rising toward the
top of the levee, the numbers would begin to inch upward
again, each time reaching higher than the time before.”10
The decision to accept state prisoners exacerbated the
serious overcrowding that already existed throughout
Louisiana’s large jails. This was especially true of OPP,
which was facing a lawsuit filed several years before the
courts ever turned their attention to the problems of the state
prison system.11 In April 1980, Sheriff Foti drew attention to
the overcrowding caused by housing state prisoners at OPP
by driving 147 state prisoners to Elayn Hunt Correctional
Center in St. Gabriel, Louisiana, and abandoning them in
the parking lot.12 This would not be the last time that prisoners from OPP would be dumped at Hunt.
Three years later, in order to deal with overcrowding in
the jail’s buildings, Sheriff Foti constructed the Emergency
Detention Center, known locally as “Tent City.”34

13

“[S]urrounded by a 10-foot chain link fence topped with
rolled barbed wire,” Tent City was “a military-like compound
of canvas tents” that exposed prisoners to the elements yearround and was both unsanitary and overcrowded.14Although
Tent City was supposed to stay open for only 60 to 90 days
(hence, the use of the word “emergency” in the name), the
tents remained in use for ten years.15
To compensate local jails for the costs of housing state
prisoners, DOC makes a per diem payment to local sheriffs
based upon the number of state prisoners housed locally. Initially, the state paid local sheriffs $4.50 per day per prisoner,
but this number has steadily increased over time.16 At present, the state reportedly pays Sheriff Gusman $24.39 per day
per state prisoner housed at OPP,17 $2.00 more than the City
of New Orleans pays Sheriff Gusman for housing its own
prisoners.18 Because state prisoners represent a source of
income, local sheriffs have an incentive to make bed space
available to them, either through expansion of prison buildings, or creative housing arrangements.
At the time of the storm, OPP housed nearly 2000 state
prisoners.19 Some of these men and women were enrolled in
drug and alcohol treatment programs as a condition of probation.20 These men and women were eligible to be released
once they completed their rehabilitation programs, and therefore they were more akin to patients than prisoners.
OPP also rents bed space to the U.S. Marshal’s Service
to house federal prisoners. Some of these prisoners are
charged with violations of federal criminal law. The remainder are federal immigration detainees who are not charged
with any crimes. Over 200 federal detainees were housed in
OPP when Katrina struck.21
B.

A Brief History of Problems at OPP

The problems at OPP did not begin with Hurricane Katrina.
OPP has a long history of cruelty and neglect toward its prisoners.29 In 1969, a prisoner named Louis Hamilton filed a
class action lawsuit on behalf of all of the individuals in OPP

regarding their living conditions at the jail. By 1970, the Old
Parish Prison was routinely housing from 800 to 900 people
at a time, despite the fact that the building was designed to
hold half that number.30 In June 1970, a federal court concluded:

the conditions of confinement in Orleans Parish
Prison so shock the conscience as a matter of elemental decency and are so much more cruel than is necessary to achieve a legitimate penal aim that such
confinement constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendments of the United States Constitution.
31

The court’s conclusion was based on a set of findings regarding horrific conditions at the jail too numerous to list here.
Among them, the court found that due to overcrowding,
many prisoners were given filthy mattresses, and were told to
sleep either on the floor of their cell, or in the aisles between
beds in the jail’s dormitory units.32 The court also found that
medical care was “woefully inadequate,” and that the “combined effects of the fearful atmosphere and crowded and sordid living conditions has a severe effect on psychotics, often
causing those transferred to the prison from mental hospitals
to be returned to the hospitals.”33 Mentally ill prisoners were
occasionally shackled to the bars in a hallway by the main
gate.34 Interestingly, the court also found that “[a]ll of the
inmates are in constant danger of losing their lives should a
fire occur in the prison.”35
Since 1969, the Hamilton class action has been modified
to address continuing problems that have arisen at each of
OPP’s new facilities. The ACLU entered the case as class
counsel in 1989, and obtained court-ordered consent decrees
addressing several of the biggest ongoing problems at the jail,
including substandard medical care and environmental hazards. In 1994, women prisoners filed a separate lawsuit
regarding their living conditions at OPP. They complained

FINES AND FEES
Under Louisiana’s Code of Criminal Procedure, any defendant who is convicted of a crime is liable for all costs
incurred in the trial, even if the court does not assess the costs.22 Where a court imposes a sentence that
includes payment of a fine or costs, a defendant faces additional incarceration for failure to pay.23 In many
cases, indigent defendants charged with petty offenses agree to plead guilty to minor charges in exchange for
time served. As part of the sentence, they are assessed fines and fees, which may total $40 per month for up
to five years.24 According to one local attorney, this “creates a cycle of incarceration where poor people are
routinely sent back to jail for no other offense, except that they couldn’t pay their fines and fees.”25
Some of the prisoners who were in OPP during the storm were there simply because of unpaid fines and fees.
Many still were held for months after the storm, lost in a dysfunctional criminal justice system that was virtually
destroyed by Katrina. For example, Greg Davis was in OPP during the storm, and was released in March 2006
only after law students from the Criminal Defense Clinic at Tulane Law School took on his case.26 When the law
students met Mr. Davis, he had no idea why he was still being held in prison.27
The reason: $448 in overdue court fines.28

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that they were kept shackled while in labor, and one female
prisoner alleged that she was denied a gynecological examination despite the fact that she bled for 30 days after giving
birth.36 That case, Lambert v. Morial, was subsequently consolidated with the Hamilton suit.37
Immigration detainees at OPP have also endured horrific
conditions. In a 1998 report by Human Rights Watch, immigration detainees at OPP provided “[s]ome of the most disturbing and consistent complaints of inhumane conditions,”
including being subjected to excessive force by deputies,
receiving inadequate medical care, and being denied visits
with their lawyers.38 Upon arriving at Central Lock-Up, one
detainee explained: “I thought I’d gone to hell,”39 An attorney
remarked, “it’s easier to visit my clients on death row than it is
to visit an INS detainee at Orleans Parish Prison.”40
Juveniles housed in OPP’s CYC faced similar problems
to the adult prisoners. In 1993, the Youth Law Center filed a
lawsuit on behalf of CYC juveniles, alleging that they were
physically abused, denied educational programs and medical
and mental health care, housed in unsafe environmental conditions, and denied visits.41 That same year, the Magistrate
Judge handling the Hamilton case held a hearing to investigate continuing reports that deputies were physically abusing
juveniles at CYC. After interviewing several juveniles, the
court personally addressed 33 deputies who worked at the
facility. “Now, frankly, I am sick of having to come over here
and deal with this issue that there has been mistreatment of
juveniles in this facility,” she said.42 The court went so far as
to explain basic principles to the deputies, such as:

If [juveniles] stand up and bad mouth you and curse
you, that does not give you an excuse to hit them in
the face. If they do something else that is provocative,
that does not give you an excuse to kick them, to hit
them, or to do anything other than to bring them to
disciplinary, that’s what disciplinary is there for.
43

Ten days later, the court entered an order against all 33
deputies she had chastised, prohibiting them “from, in any
way, violating the civil rights of any juvenile inmate either
now or in the future to be housed in the Conchetta facility of
the Orleans Parish Prison system.”44 The Youth Law Center
lawsuit later was settled after the first day of trial, resulting in
a number of changes, including a 50% reduction of the population and increased educational opportunities for juveniles.45
Despite the Hamilton court’s order, and the Youth Law
Center settlement agreement, both CYC and YSC remained
violent and dangerous. Conditions were so poor that in 1997,
the New York Times called the Orleans Parish juvenile justice
system the worst in the nation.46 In June 2002, a 16-year-old
boy held at CYC complained that that “guards hit kids and
threaten to beat them up . . . guards beat kids up every day.”47
When interviewed by Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana
(“JJPL”), he was very upset about having had to wear the
same underwear for three days in a row.48 Children also
reported that staff failed to protect them from violence by
other children. One 14-year-old boy told JJPL that CYC
staff members did nothing to protect him from the threats of
other children; he stayed in his cell all day to avoid being

injured.49Among the problems one 15-year-old boy had to
endure were routine strip searches and awful food.50 He also
reported that the rat-infested detention center made his
“nerves bad.”51
C.

Recent Deaths at OPP

Many of the problems at OPP in the years preceding Hurricane Katrina were remarkably similar to those found to
“shock the conscience” of the trial court judge in 1970. In
June 2004, two OPP deputies allegedly beat to death a man
named Mark Jones after he was picked up for public drunkenness. According to a lawsuit filed by Mr. Jones’s father, during processing at the jail, one deputy “grabbed Mr. Jones by
the neck with sufficient force to result in a fracture of Mr.
Jones’[s] thyroid cartilage and other injury to his neck.”52 A
short time later, a second deputy allegedly punched Mr. Jones
in the face, “causing severe head trauma, including the laceration of Mr. Jones[’s] vertebral artery, damage to his brain and
bleeding from his nose, mouth and head.”53 Rendered unconscious by these attacks, Mr. Jones was taken to the hospital,
where he was declared brain dead just one day after his
arrest.54 Both deputies were indicted by a grand jury, one on a
charge of manslaughter and the other on a charge of battery.55
A number of OPP prisoners have also died in recent
years from medical conditions that appear to be entirely
treatable. In October 2004, an OPP prisoner died of a ruptured peptic ulcer. According to the Orleans Parish coroner,
the man probably writhed in agony for twelve hours before
his death.56 Members of the public organized a rally to highlight the problems with medical services at OPP after
another prisoner died in February 2005 of tuberculosis, and
an OPP deputy died of pneumonia two weeks later.57 On the
same day as the rally, an OPP prisoner died of bacterial
pneumonia.58 In April 2005, a 64-year-old prisoner with
health problems died nine days after his attorneys complained that he was not receiving his proper medications, and
the following month a prisoner with a history of health problems died at Charity Hospital while receiving kidney
dialysis.59 In the two months preceding Hurricane Katrina,
two more prisoners died while under medical observation at
OPP.60 Another prisoner is believed to have died the day
before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, although no
information is currently known about his death.61
OPP has also had major problems with the provision of
mental health care. In 2001, a young man named Shawn
Duncan entered OPP on traffic charges. Identified as suicidal, Mr. Duncan was placed in HOD’s 10th Floor mental
health tier. During his seven days at OPP, Mr. Duncan was
twice placed in five-point restraints: in a bed, his arms were
strapped down at his wrists, his legs strapped down at his
ankles, and a leather belt was strapped across his waist, completely immobilizing him. The second time he was placed in
restraints, he was left largely unsupervised for 42 hours and
died of dehydration.62

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T H E D E AT H OF SHAW N D U NCA N

A prisoner in five-point restraints is secured to a bed by
straps on his arms, legs, and across his waist.

In five-

point restraints, a person cannot
eat, drink, move, or relieve himself without the attention and
care of correctional and medical
staff. Mr. Duncan remained in five-point restraints
for nearly 24 hours, during which time he was not properly
hawn Duncan, a 24-year-old
resident of New Orleans, was
arrested on August 2, 2001 for various traffic offenses.63 Mr. Duncan
notified the arresting officers that he
had ingested several valiums and
Somas, and was transported to the
Medical Center of Louisiana at New
Orleans, where he was treated in
the emergency room.64 He was discharged from the hospital to OPP
with a diagnosis of drug overdose
and suicidal ideation, and a recommendation for “Psych followup.”65

S

Upon entering OPP, Mr. Duncan
was housed in the psychiatric ward
on the 10th Floor of HOD.66 He was
immediately placed in four-point
restraints, and was later placed in
five-point restraints.67 A prisoner in
five-point restraints is secured to a
bed by straps on his arms, legs,
and across his waist. In five-point
restraints, a person cannot eat,
drink, move, or relieve himself without the attention and care of cor-

16

examined by medical staff, nor given enough water.

rectional and medical staff. Mr.
Duncan remained in five-point
restraints for nearly 24 hours, during which time he was not properly
examined by medical staff, nor
given enough water.68
Two days after being released from
restraints, Mr. Duncan was again
placed in five-point restraints.69 The
physician who ordered Mr. Duncan
back into five-point restraints never
examined him prior to giving this
order.70 After 12 hours, a second
physician ordered that Mr. Duncan
remain in five-point restraints for an
additional 12 hours; this doctor
also did not examine Mr. Duncan.71
Nine hours later, yet another doctor
finally examined Mr. Duncan, but
failed to note that he had received
no fluids for the past 21 hours, had

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

not been allowed to use the bathroom, and had not been released
from the restraints for range-ofmotion or circulation checks.72 The
doctor ordered that Mr. Duncan’s
restraints be continued with no time
limit specified.73
Over the next 22 hours, no doctor
examined Mr. Duncan. The deputies
who were charged with checking
Mr. Duncan every 15 minutes failed
to perform their duties.74 They never
responded or called for medical
attention when Mr. Duncan began
“cursing, yelling or screaming.”75
Mr. Duncan remained in five-point
restraints for over 42 hours
straight.76 On August 10, 2001,
another prisoner noticed that Mr.
Duncan was not breathing.77 That

prisoner notified the nursing staff,
and Mr. Duncan was later declared
dead at Charity Hospital.78 The
cause of death was dehydration.79
During the autopsy, Mr. Duncan
was described as “gaunt in
appearance, with his abdomen
and eyeballs sunken in.”80 His
weight was 158 pounds. Just three
days earlier he weighed 178
pounds.81 Mr. Duncan received fluids once during the entire 42-hour
period when he was in five-point
restraints. Logs maintained by the
deputies on duty indicate that Mr.
Duncan was monitored every 15
minutes, and that he regularly ate
food. However, at his autopsy, there
was no evidence that Mr. Duncan
had ingested any food during this
period.82 Mr. Duncan’s mother and
two children filed a lawsuit following
his death. The Sheriff’s office settled
the lawsuit in 2004 with an agreement that the terms of the settlement remain confidential. ■

Less than two years later, another suicidal OPP prisoner died
while restrained in the exact same cell where Shawn Duncan
died.83 The prisoner, Matthew Bonnette, was placed on suicide
watch in HOD’s 10th Floor psychiatric unit after he threatened to harm himself during his arrest. Although Mr. Bonnette
was on suicide watch, deputies left him in a cell where they
could not keep him under close and constant watch.84 Mr. Bonnette was confined in four-point restraints, his wrists handcuffed and latched to a waist belt and his ankles shackled.85
Twelve hours after Mr. Bonnette was placed in the cell,
another prisoner notified deputies and nurses that Mr. Bonnette was hanging from the upper bunk and appeared to be
dead.86 Mr. Bonnette hanged himself with a leather belt that
inexplicably had been left in his cell.87 Just over three weeks
before Hurricane Katrina hit OPP, yet another prisoner in the
mental health tier committed suicide by hanging.88
D.

Racial Justice and OPP

Hurricane Katrina exposed the deep racial divisions that
have long existed in New Orleans. The city is one of the most
segregated metropolitan areas in the country,89 and its criminal justice system reflects this fact, from the disproportionate
targeting of African-American residents by its police department to the over-incarceration of African-Americans in its
jail. The New Orleans Police Department (“NOPD”) in particular has a longstanding history of racism and brutality. In
1980, a mob of white cops rampaged through a black section
of the city in retaliation for the murder of a police officer,
killing four people and injuring as many as fifty. According to
reports, people were tortured and dragged into the swamps to
face mock executions.90 In 1990, a black man accused of
killing a white officer was beaten to death by officers who
had gathered to wait for him at the hospital to which he was
transported; no officers were criminally prosecuted or
administratively sanctioned.91
These incidents, which would be termed a race riot and
a lynching if performed by private citizens, are merely the
most sensational examples of the department’s racially discriminatory practices. The NOPD also has faced repeated
accusations of racial profiling.92 The number of complaints of
police violence and unwarranted stops and arrests of black
citizens recently reached such proportions that in April 2006,
the ACLU of Louisiana filed a state Public Records Act
request with the NOPD seeking information on racial profiling and police misconduct, and urged systemic reforms of the
department.93
Institutional racism and the targeting of African-Americans by the NOPD have resulted in the over-incarceration of
African-Americans in OPP. OPP itself is but one product of
a larger pattern of racially differentiated incarceration practices in the United States. For example, while only 12.3% of
American citizens are black, they make up 43.7% of the
incarcerated population across the country.94 In 2005, the
incarceration rates for black males of all ages were 5 to 7
times greater than for white males in the same age groups.95
Prior to Katrina, an astonishing 12% of all black males in
their late twenties were in prison or jail in the United
States.96 In Louisiana, which has the highest incarceration
rate of any state, the black incarceration rate at state prisons

and local jails was 4.7 times higher than the white rate in
2005.97 Orleans Parish was no exception: although the parish
itself was only 66.6% black prior to Hurricane Katrina,
almost 90% of the OPP population was black.98
Racial considerations pervade every aspect of the OPP
story, from the administrative decision not to evacuate the
prison population to the mistreatment of individual prisoners
in the weeks that followed. Endemic racial tensions played a
central role in the disaster that unfolded following Hurricane
Katrina. The testimonials of prisoners, staff, and deputies
depict a situation marked not only by chaos and mismanagement, but also by racially motivated hostility on the part of
prison officials.
E.

Legal Protections for Prisoners

1. Domestic Legal Protections
The state’s power to imprison its citizens carries with it the
duty to provide for their basic needs.99 The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the infliction
of cruel and unusual punishment,100 protects prisoners from
the deprivation of food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and
reasonable safety.101 The Eighth Amendment is violated
when the state shows “deliberate indifference” to conditions
that pose a substantial risk of serious harm to prisoners.102
From the outset, the lack of preparedness demonstrated
by OPP officials raises serious constitutional concerns, as
does the chaos that followed, both at OPP in the days following the storm and at various receiving facilities in the weeks
and months after the evacuation. Prison officials failed to
meet their constitutional duty to adopt adequate emergency
procedures and evacuation plans to protect prisoners from
dangerous conditions or natural disasters.103 Prison officials
also failed to provide prisoners with adequate food and
water,104 and held them in unsanitary and hazardous conditions that posed a serious risk to their health and safety.105
Prisoners were subject to unnecessary and wanton infliction
of pain by deputies and staff, in violation of the Eighth and
Fourteenth Amendments.106 Prison officials also failed to
meet their legal duty to protect prisoners from physical and
sexual violence from other prisoners,107 and failed to provide
adequate medical treatment to prisoners during and after the
storm.108 Seriously mentally ill prisoners likewise did not
receive adequate mental health care, as the Constitution
requires.109
Prison officials at OPP and at several receiving facilities
may have also violated constitutional and statutory prohibitions on racial discrimination. Specifically, the direct participation of prison officials in race-based violence and abuse at
several other Louisiana prisons likely constitutes a violation
of the Fourteenth Amendment and the 1964 Civil Rights
Act. In addition, the brutal mistreatment of black prisoners
at several receiving facilities may also have violated state and
federal hate crimes statutes.

2. International Legal Protections
The violations of prisoners’ rights that are detailed in this

17

report also implicate several human rights instruments.110
Many of these rights revolve around a tenet of human rights
law that is absent from U.S. constitutional law: “All persons
deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and
with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.”111
This principle was ignored from the very beginning, when the
welfare of the prisoners was not given its due, to the present
day, when evacuees continue to sit in jail on minor charges—
or no charges at all—without any ability to speak with a
lawyer or appear before a judge.
In the days before the storm, phones were cut off, preventing prisoners from communicating with loved ones about
their plans for evacuation. This problem was repeated at
some receiving facilities, when prisoners were prevented for
months from using the phones to locate family members. This
denial of contact with family contravenes international protections,112 particularly when it comes to the children who
were separated from their parents during and after the
storm.113 Additional violations occurred in the mixing of juveniles with adults at several of the buildings during the storm.114
International principles prohibit the denial of food and
water that prisoners in OPP experienced for days,115 and
require that prisoners receive proper medical attention.116
The unsafe and unsanitary conditions in which OPP prisoners were forced to live inside the jail and at various receiving
facilities violate several human rights standards.117 International treaties also prohibit the kind of violence against prisoners that occurred at OPP and elsewhere.118 At no time
would the macing or beating of prisoners without instigation
be permissible, storm or no storm; these norms cannot be
avoided. The racial discrimination that prisoners faced at
OPP and at several receiving facilities is universally prohibited by international norms.119

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Most OPP buildings remain
abandoned
nearly one year
after Hurricane
Katrina

II. P REPARING F OR T HE ST ORM
“We’re going to keep our prisoners where they belong.” 1
In the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina’s landfall, local,
state, and federal officials were taking steps to prepare for the
storm.2 According to a report issued by the Select Bipartisan
Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to
Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management
Agency took efforts that “far exceeded any previous operation
in the agency’s history.”3 On Saturday, August 27, Louisiana
Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco asked President Bush
to “declare an emergency for the State of Louisiana due to
Hurricane Katrina for the time period beginning August 26,
2005, and continuing.”4 Later that day, the President declared
an emergency for the state of Louisiana.5 The next day, Governor Blanco again wrote to President Bush, asking that he
“declare an expedited major disaster for the State of Louisiana
as Hurricane Katrina, a Category V Hurricane, approaches
our coast . . . beginning on August 28, 2005 and continuing.”6
The next day, President Bush declared a major disaster for the
state of Louisiana.7
The evacuation of southeastern Louisiana began on Saturday, August 27. Governor Blanco and Louisiana state
agencies implemented an emergency evacuation plan that
called for communicating with the public and opening up
roadways on major highways to avoid congestion (the “Contraflow Plan”).8 Although several parishes called for mandatory evacuations, and New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin
declared a state of emergency for the city, the Mayor did not
order a mandatory evacuation of Orleans Parish. Instead, he
recommended only that people living in certain areas of the
city begin to evacuate.9
On the morning of Sunday, August 28, Governor Blanco
and Mayor Nagin called a press conference at which the
Mayor declared the first mandatory evacuation of New
Orleans in the city’s history. Mayor Nagin recognized that
the city was “facing a storm that most of us have feared,” and
he emphasized, “the first choice for every citizen is to figure
out a way to leave the city.”10
Mayor Nagin’s mandatory evacuation order for Orleans
Parish excluded “[e]ssential personnel of the Orleans Parish
criminal sheriff’s office and its inmates.”11 When the Mayor
began to field questions, he was asked about the decision not
to evacuate the prisoners in OPP. Mayor Nagin referred the

19

question to Sheriff Gusman, who responded: “[W]e have
backup generators to accommodate any power loss. . . .
We’re fully staffed. We’re under our emergency operations
plan. . . . [W]e’ve been working with the police department—
so we’re going to keep our prisoners where they belong.”12
One day earlier, across town from OPP, the Louisiana
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (“LSPCA”)
made a different decision regarding the welfare of the 263 stray
pets that were in their care.13 Despite the fact that on Saturday
morning the wind had not yet begun to blow, LSPCA staff
A.

packed up all of the animals and evacuated them to safety.
Before doing so, they took digital photographs of every single
animal.14 LSPCA staff “made sure each pet’s paperwork was
in order. And we IDed each collar; we had a tracking system
in case any animal got separated from their paperwork.”15
Although the process of moving 263 dogs and cats was difficult, the decision to evacuate was not; the animal shelter’s
emergency policy unambiguously required an evacuation “for
Category 3 hurricanes and above.”16

What Makes a Good Emergency Operations Plan?

Having an emergency preparedness plan is critical for both public and private institutions, particularly prisons and jails,
which “are responsible for the safety of large numbers of individuals who are usually locked up and cannot protect themselves in many emergency situations.”17 In 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections, published A Guide to Preparing for and Responding to Prison Emergencies (the “NIC Guide”).18 The NIC Guide contains a
self-audit checklist of hundreds of questions that a facility’s commanders should ask to assess the facility’s emergency
readiness. The questions address a prison’s written policies, its training practices, and the organizational structure needed
to maintain command and control. The checklist is intended to serve a variety of functions, such as providing “management with an objective assessment of the progress and status of the emergency system” and creating an “opportunity to
evaluate or reevaluate resource allocation.”19 The “ultimate goal” of an audit is to “improve the system.”20 The self-audit
checklist contains questions regarding:

EMERGENCY GENERATORS21
• Is there an emergency generator?
• Is the emergency generator adequate to run critical areas of the institution and critical equipment safely for 24 hrs?
• Are staff trained to know which systems will be run on emergency power and which will be inoperable during a
main power outage?
• Do all emergency generators have sufficient fuel to run for a minimum of 72 hours continuously?
• If the emergency generators must be started manually in the event of a main power outage, are there staff on
duty on a 24-hour basis who are trained to start and operate those generators?
OFFSITE EVACUATIONS22
• Is there an offsite evacuation plan?
If yes, does the offsite evacuation plan include the following:
• Potential destinations?
• Specific transportation alternatives?
• Security procedures during evacuation?
• Which inmate records must be moved with inmates?
• Procedures for providing medical services during and after the evacuation?
• Provisions for coordinating with local and state police during the evacuation?
• Arrangements for meal services at the new location?
• Arrangements for inmate identification and count at the new location?
• Arrangements for housing and security at the new location?
• Predetermined evacuation routes?
• Procedures for protection or destruction of confidential records that cannot be evacuated?
MEDICAL SERVICES23
• Is there a comprehensive medical plan for an institutional emergency?
• Does the plan include mass casualties/triage?
• Are staff trained in blood-borne pathogen precautions?
• Is a location other than the infirmary identified for mass casualties/triage?
• Does the institution have an emergency-equipped medical crash cart?
• Are there adequate numbers of gurneys?
• Are backup medical resources for emergencies identified in the community?

20

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

The NIC Guide contains a separate checklist to test a prison or jail’s readiness to prepare for and respond to natural disasters.
Natural disasters are different from other types of emergencies, because the proper response may require an offsite evacuation of the entire prisoner population. Given the unique challenges raised by natural disasters, a special degree of preparation
is also needed. The natural disaster checklist contains additional questions regarding:

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS24
• Does the institution have policies in place specific to natural disaster planning, response, and recovery operations?
• Does the institution conduct routine training in natural disaster response, including drills and exercises?
• Does the institution have current mutual aid agreements with outside agencies to coordinate response activities during a natural disaster?
• Does the institution have emergency response plans and checklists specific to natural disaster response?
• Has the institution identified supplies and equipment that may be needed in a natural disaster (water, tents,
portable toilets, portable lighting, blankets, etc.)?
• Does the institution have evacuation and relocation plans, alternative sites selected, and arrangements and
agreements for natural disasters?
• Does the institution have a plan to operate the institution with reduced staffing levels should a natural disaster
make that necessary?
• Does the institution have an emergency staff services (ESS) program to respond to staff and staff family needs
in the event of a natural disaster?
• Has the institution planned for ‘desert island operations’ (operating for an extended period without contact or
assistance from outside) in the event of a natural disaster?
• Is the institution prepared to maintain security and essential services, in the event of loss of power or other
utilities, for as long as 72 hours?
• Does the institution have a 3-day supply of potable water onsite or an alternate water supply system?
• Does the institution have a 3-day supply of food that would not need cooking?
• Does the institution have a 3-day supply of medications for inmates onsite?
• Do staff and inmates participate in severe weather drills?
FLOOD DISASTERS25
• Has the institution conducted a thorough risk assessment of vulnerable areas and equipment in the event of
rising water?
• Does the institution have detailed plans for a complete offsite evacuation in the event of a flood?
• Have those offsite evacuation plans been reviewed carefully within the past 12 months?
• Has the institution practiced or drilled with a flood-related offsite evacuation scenario within the past 24
months, at the level of table-top exercise or above?
• Does the institution have a plan for moving expensive or crucial equipment in the event of rising water?
• Is the institution’s offsite evacuation plan for flood developed in stages, so it could be enacted in response to
predetermined flood stages or severity of warning?
• Do the institution’s flood plans include an analysis of which access and egress routes would be rendered
unusable at various flood stages, along with alternate access and egress plans for those flood stages?
HURRICANE DISASTERS26
• Is there a plan for managing the inmate population while waiting to see if a hurricane actually will hit the institution?
• Have staff received any training specifically on preparing for and responding to a hurricane within the last 24
months?
• Do the institution’s hurricane plans include an assessment of potential for localized flooding?
• Do the institution’s hurricane plans include an assessment of the vulnerability of various utilities?
• Does the institution have portable water pumps?

21

GLY E NDAL E A N D C OREY STEVEN SON

after the storm. When they found
out he was only 15 years old, they
shipped him to Tallulah.

When the storm hit, at first my family wasn’t going to leave. The day
before the storm, we went to a
hotel room and stayed there. I tried
to make contact with my son to see
if he was okay, but I couldn’t get

At Tallulah, Corey was being
housed with adults; they said, “you
came in with adults, you stay with
adults.” He got beat up there by
two adult inmates. They split
Corey’s jaw open and gave him a

through to the jail. After the hurricane hit, by the grace of God they
let us come home to get our things.
Our telephone was still on and I
tried reaching the jail again—still no
answer. We packed up our things

black eye. I still couldn’t go to see
him. They put him in isolation and
told me he didn’t have any privileges because he was an evacuee
and was only there temporarily.

and left on September 1, 2005.

When I called Tallulah, they wouldn’t
let me talk to my son, and they told
me that the inmates were not able to

After the storm I called all of the jails
I could, trying to find my son. I kept
bothering the jails, but no one was
giving me any information. I was
calling radio stations trying to get
information and was given different
numbers.
I heard stories on the news that
they had inmates floating out on
the water, that some had drowned.
I was hysterical, not knowing were
my child was, not knowing if he had
eaten, not knowing if he was one of
the body count. It was a mess.
It wasn’t until a month and a half
later that I finally found out that he
was okay. The reason the jails
couldn’t find him was because he
was a juvenile being held as an
adult, so no one had him listed. I
finally got through to Winn Correctional Center, and they told me that
they had my son for a week or so
22

I wish my other sons had a

y son, Corey, was 15 years
old when the hurricane hit
New Orleans. Before the storm, I
used to visit my son at OPP every
Thursday. The last time I saw him
was in August 2005, the Thursday
before the storm hit. Now it is June
2006 and I still have not seen him.

M

chance to see their brother.

make phone calls because they
were in isolation. But I kept calling. I
just wanted someone to let him
know I was calling, hoping they
would let him make just one call. I
was also worried because my son
takes medication for Attention
Deficit Disorder and another behavioral disorder. He received that medication when he was on the street,
and he also received it at the juvenile
facility where he was previously held.
When he got to OPP, they didn’t
give him medication. They said
Corey “should’ve thought of that
before he did what he did.” I was
told they don’t administer meds to
juveniles housed with adults at OPP.
After the storm, Corey still didn’t get
his medication. I think he first got the
medication in April, over seven
months after the storm hit.
The deputies at the prison told me

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

he would be able to make phone
calls in one week. We were staying
with other people, but we went
back home because we had telephone service in case Corey called.
We went home even though it wasn’t a place to be.
When I finally got to speak with my
son, to tell him that we wasn’t home
and that we had evacuated, he had
a lot of things to tell me about what
happened at OPP during the storm.
He had a lot of things to tell me but
he couldn’t because they only gave
him three minutes on the phone.
The funny thing is that my son had
the opportunity to escape and
come home. At least then I would
have known that he was okay; I
could’ve turned him in later, as long
as I knew he was okay.
About two months ago, my son
was moved to Forcht-Wade Correctional Center, which is over 300
miles away from New Orleans.
When he was there, he called me
on the phone every weekend, but I
still couldn’t visit him. Because he
was getting his medication, he was
doing a lot better. He was able to
focus, he could write. He is 16
years old now and he hasn’t even
been to court. In May, I went to
court in New Orleans when I found
out that his case was supposed to
be heard. The judge was there, a
lawyer was there for my son, and I
was there, but Corey was still up at
Forcht-Wade, so the case was continued. That was the third time his
case was called in New Orleans,

and the third time his case was continued because they hadn’t brought
him back to New Orleans to see the
judge. I went again in June, this time
with my husband and Corey’s two
younger brothers. I called ForchtWade the day before the court date
to make sure they brought Corey to
New Orleans. The people I spoke to
said they had no idea he had a
court date at 9am the next day, but
they promised to get him to New
Orleans. Before arriving in court I
called Forcht-Wade again, and they
confirmed that he had been sent to
New Orleans.
When I walked into that courtroom, I
looked around and I couldn’t see my
baby. I wanted to see him so bad,
but he wasn’t there. An attorney for
the ACLU called Forcht-Wade, and
they said they had sent Corey to
New Orleans early in the morning,
and that he arrived in Orleans Parish
Prison at around 8am. The Sheriff’s
deputy in the courtroom said that
they only bring inmates to the court
twice a day and they had already
brought all of the inmates for the
morning court hearing. Corey’s
lawyer told the judge that my son
was sitting in the jail, just two blocks
away, but the judge decided to set a
trial date for my son without bringing
him to court.
After that was done, I went to Central Lock-Up to see my son, but they
don’t allow visitation for inmates in
Central Lock-Up. Corey has been
locked up for over one year, and he
was finally back in New Orleans and
I couldn’t even see him. One deputy
allowed Corey to call me on my cell
phone, and it was good to hear his
voice, but I wish my other sons had
a chance to see their brother.27 ■

B.

What Was the Emergency Operations
Plan at OPP?

Several months before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans,
the DOC contacted the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s
Office to schedule a meeting regarding the evacuation plan of
OPP; that meeting never occurred.28 The day before the
storm, Sheriff Gusman stated that the prison was operating
under its emergency operations plan. But in the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina it became clear that the plan the Sheriff
was relying on did not exist, was inadequate to provide guidance to staff and prisoners, or was ineptly executed.
Days before the storm, the DOC offered to assist local
sheriffs in evacuating their prisoners. DOC successfully
evacuated Plaquemines Parish Prison and St. Tammany
Work Release on August 27, and completed the evacuation
of St. John Parish Prison, Lafayette Community Correctional Center and Lafourche Work Release by the afternoon
of August 28.29 Sheriff Gusman declined the DOC’s offer to
assist in the pre-storm evacuation of OPP.30 “We knew it was
headed there,” said Warden Jimmy LeBlanc of Dixon Correctional Institute, a state prison in central Louisiana, north
of Baton Rouge. “We need to have contraflow emergency
evacuation plans for corrections.”31
But according to a technical assistance report commissioned by the Louisiana DOC, the contraflow plan for southeastern Louisiana does address the evacuation of prisons.
According to that report, the evacuation of prisons in southeastern Louisiana is supposed to occur during a “specific
window[] of time, but much earlier than the general population evacuation.”32 It is not clear whether this plan pertains
only to DOC facilities, or if it applies more broadly to all prisons and jails in southeastern Louisiana. The DOC denied a
Public Records Act request by the ACLU of Louisiana to
review that portion of the plan.33
The scene that developed inside OPP was “nothing but
chaos,” according to Brady Richard, the jail’s Medical Supply Officer at the time of the storm. “People need to understand that we just should never have been in there in the first
place.”34 One deputy who was present throughout the storm
agrees, noting: “It wasn’t like there weren’t people telling the
sheriff you need to move these inmates out before the storm
hits. It should have been done and would have kept everybody out of harm’s way. . . .”35 Another deputy explains that
he faults Sheriff Gusman “for not reacting sooner. When he
knew the water was going to rise up—on the 30th at the latest
we should have been evacuated.”36
The Sheriff’s decision not to evacuate OPP when DOC
first offered to assist also hindered the rescue efforts. Due to
the late notice provided by OPP, some of the buses that DOC
could have used for the rescue were already being used to
transport prisoners back to facilities that had been evacuated
earlier, and were not damaged by the storm.37 Speaking
months after the storm, a DOC spokesperson acknowledged,
“[w]e had not planned for the evacuation of the entire
Orleans Parish Prison all at one time and we did not plan for
the fact that we would only have a certain amount of time
because the water was still rising.”38
Rather than evacuate, OPP opened its doors on August

28 to several hundred additional adult and juvenile prisoners
from St. Bernard Parish, as well as juveniles from YSC.
Because of a lack of space, the male prisoners from St.
Bernard Parish were placed in a gymnasium on the first floor
of the Templeman III building. In addition to importing additional prisoners, OPP also allowed family members of the
deputies and staff at OPP to remain in the prison buildings,
along with people from the neighborhoods around the jail.
Only after the storm did it become clear how horribly illprepared OPP was for Hurricane Katrina. According to one
employee, Sheriff Gusman held a meeting on Sunday,
August 28 to discuss hurricane preparedness. When notified
that the jail was the least prepared for a storm it had ever
been, and that there was insufficient water, flashlights, batteries, and food, the Sheriff reportedly stated: “Those are
incidentals, and we’ll deal with them later.”39

23

BRADY RICHARD, MEDICAL SUPPLY OFFICER

From the veranda of the CCC building, I could see snipers on the roof
of the HOD building shooting at inmates ... I remember thinking:

“What in the hell have I gotten myself into?”
t the time of the storm, I had
been working for the Orleans
Parish Prison for less than one year.
I was the Medical Supply Officer,
which meant that I was in charge of
purchasing medical supplies and
distributing them to the 10 medical
clinics in the prison system. In the
days before the storm, I was not
consulted about making any

A

preparations for the storm. I was
only told that I had to report to duty
on Sunday evening, August 28. My
supervisor, the Medical Director,
was not included in any of the planning meetings for the storm either. I
was told that on the Sunday of the
storm, the Sheriff held a meeting
with the ranking officers. At that
meeting I understand it was
brought to the Sheriff’s attention
that there were insufficient amounts
of supplies needed for the storm.
When the storm made landfall, I
was in the Community Correctional
Center (“CCC”) building on Gravier
Street. The situation there deteriorated as the water rose. There
appeared to be little communication with the inmates. As time
passed the inmates became more
volatile; they were breaking through
concrete walls, yelling and chanting
in unison, banging loudly, and
knocking out exterior windows.
They were in the dark for days and
went without food or water for
extended periods of time. The situation became too unsafe for medical personnel to distribute
medication to them. I was unable
to access my office and supply
rooms on the 5th Floor of the building. Instead I set up a makeshift
supply room and medical triage in
the IT department on the 1st Floor
from which I worked with doctors
and nurses treating patients. It was
really hot and stuffy in the 1st Floor
administration area of the jail, and
conditions had to be much worse
on the prisoners’ tiers.
On Tuesday night, I was sent out to
the HOD building located on Per24

dido Street to deliver medical supplies. I was brought there by boat,
but had to wade through chestdeep water from the entrance of the
building to the stairwell inside that
was filled with feces, diesel fuel,
dead rats, garbage and other
debris. It took about seven trips
through the flooded halls to deliver
everything. After making the last trip
I sat in an empty boat that was tied
to the entrance of the building for
about 11/2 hours while waiting for
another boat to transport me back
to the CCC building. As I sat there in
the dark night above at least six feet
of water an eerie red glow illuminated the dark water as the electrical systems of the submerged
vehicles shorted out. It was then
that I reached a real low point as the
severity of the situation began to set
in to my mind and as I listened to
the cries for help from civilians
trapped in their nearby homes as
the floodwaters rose inside of them.

separating them from the employees and civilians. The employees
broke cots to use the wooden legs
for protection. One deputy grabbed
a curling iron to protect herself. Can
you imagine how unprotected we
felt? Conditions became better
when the Department of Corrections arrived in armored gear to
secure the building and assist in the
evacuation of the inmates.

Conditions continued to deteriorate
and really took a turn for the worse
just as I was approaching the CCC
building on my return trip. The building’s generators failed as the electrical systems in the basement
became flooded. There were at

but I guess that over a couple of
days they fired dozens of shots.
From the veranda of CCC, I could
see doors open on the 3rd Floor of

least 200 frightened civilians (family
members of employees) who had
taken refuge at the prison now all in
total darkness camping out on the
1st Floor veranda of the building.
The deputies and the staff were
rationing our food; one of my
employees who had sought refuge
at the prison with her family had an
orange and some sliced bread, and
she said it was what was given for
breakfast. No one, including the
deputies, seemed to know when or
whether help was going to arrive.
The administration and the Sheriff
failed us miserably and communication was non-existent. At one
point in CCC, the inmates breached
walls and gained access to the
entire building down to the 1st
Floor; there was only one last door

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

From the veranda of the CCC building, I could see snipers on the roof
of the HOD building shooting at
inmates. At the time I thought they
were shooting real bullets, but I was
later told that they were shooting
rubber bullets at inmates who were
trying to escape. At the same time
that guards were shooting they were
yelling “Get back, get back! Don’t
jump!” I remember thinking: “What in
the hell have I gotten myself into?” I
thought I was in a war zone. From
my angle I could not see who was
hit or whether there were injuries,

the Templeman III building, and there
were sheets hanging out. The doors
probably once opened onto a fire
escape, but there was no fire
escape that I could see.
I arrived at the jail on Sunday at
around 5 pm, and I left on one of the
last boats out on Friday afternoon
around 4 pm. When I got to the
Broad Street Overpass, I had to
climb down scaffolding to get on a
bus. There was no meeting of staff
or deputies before we got on the
bus, and we did not even know
where the bus was going. The
Medical Director did his best to
keep the medical staff together so
that wherever we ended up we
would end up together—at least
then our group could pool our
resources and work together as a
unit to help one another. We ended
up at the Lions Club Hall in Gray,

Louisiana, near Houma. Sheriff
Gusman got on a stage with the
owners of the building and some
dignitaries. He told everyone that
we “should be thankful to these two
gentlemen for taking us in and
opening their building for us” and
“you should be appreciative
because they could be at home in
their recliners watching television.
Instead they opened their building
up for you.” The Sheriff then chastised the employees to contain their
children and to respect the building.
He stated: “I’m not sure what you’ll
eat tonight, but we’ll try to get
something hot for you tomorrow.”
He then left the facility without even
thanking his employees. Luckily, the
people of Houma began showing
up with food and supplies for us.
Dominos donated pizza for us also.
Some people from the community
offered to wash clothes and offered
to let anyone shower in their homes.
The medical staff took turns using
one another’s cell phones and
chargers to make calls for help.
That night I was finally able to get a
call out to a friend who came to get
me. I was luckier than others who
were still at the facility a week later.
After the storm, in the local paper’s
online forum, I posted a response to
a request for information about an
OPP employee. I provided the person with factual information about
our evacuation and made some
general comments about how people were treated at OPP. The comments were posted on the general
forum instead of a private message.
I have been told that Sheriff Gusman
does not want anyone who was not
100% behind him to return to the
Sheriff’s Department. It seems that
his method of damage control is to
just not acknowledge certain things
or people. My request for information regarding the status of my
employment and my desire to continue my health care benefits under
the Consolidated Omnibus Budget
Reconciliation Act (“COBRA”) has
been ignored.40 ■

So what was the emergency operations plan in place at the
time of the storm? The ACLU of Louisiana filed written
requests to state and local officials, including Sheriff Gusman, for any evacuation plans that were in place for OPP on
August 26, 2005.41 Although the Louisiana Public Records
Act requires that government officials respond to such
requests within three business days, the Sheriff failed to
respond for over seven weeks. Only after the ACLU of
Louisiana sued the Sheriff for violating state law did the
Sheriff’s attorney respond to the request.42 That response
contains the cryptic statement: “All documents re[garding]
evacuation plans were underwater—can’t find any now.”43
It defies common sense that all copies of the evacuation
plan were destroyed in the storm, since each staff member
who was responsible for carrying out the evacuation should
have had a copy. However, long-time deputies at OPP state
that they knew of no evacuation plan. Christina Foster
served as a deputy in HOD for over two and a half years
prior to Hurricane Katrina. According to Deputy Foster, the
only plan she knew of to evacuate the building was the fire
escape route displayed on the walls of the jail.44 Rhonda
Ducre, also a deputy in HOD, agrees: “I’ve been here four
years and it’s always the same old thing when hurricanes
come. There’s no plan.”45 Another OPP deputy who joined
the Sheriff’s office in 2002 recalls that there was “no training
for emergencies in the training back in 2002. I’m certified to
carry a firearm and every year we go and get re-certified. Initial training for deputies went on for like three months. We
had a 90-hour course, and then we went to work and to academy class at the same time. We didn’t even have fire drills.
Only way we knew about fire exits is because they had
posters on the wall, but no one ever told us.”46 Speaking with
a reporter shortly after the evacuation, Deputy Luis Reyes
said prisoners in CCC “had been escaping throughout the
night because we were so shorthanded. People just did not
come in. There was no plan for this situation.”47
At the same time that the Sheriff said that all evacuation
plans were underwater, he provided the ACLU of Louisiana
with an undated, two-page document entitled “The Orleans
Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office Hurricane/Flood Contingency Plan” (the “Contingency Plan”).48 It is unclear whether
this plan even existed at the time of Hurricane Katrina, or
whether it was hastily prepared in response to the public
records request.
The deficiencies in the Contingency Plan are so vast that
it would have been of little use even if it had been executed to
perfection.

25

26

Flaws in the Contingency Plan

Effect on Conditions in OPP

The Contingency Plan provides no information about how to
manage the prison population in advance of an expected
hurricane.

Prisoners were prevented from making phone calls to family
members days before the storm hit. They were not kept
informed about the status of the evacuation, and were often
falsely informed that their evacuation would be imminent.

The Contingency Plan contains no information about how to
conduct an offsite evacuation of the prison buildings in the
event of an emergency.

The evacuation was haphazard. Power tools were needed to
open locked cells, and exterior walls and windows had to be
destroyed to remove prisoners from the building. Deputies in
at least one building chained cell doors closed using handcuffs and leg shackles, further endangering the lives of
trapped prisoners.

The Contingency Plan requires that generators be fueled and
tested to ensure that they are operational, but makes no
mention of the fact that generators must be placed above
100-year flood levels in order to ensure that they remain
effective throughout an emergency. The Contingency Plan
also makes no mention of what essential services should be
supplied power in the event of an emergency.

Soon after power was lost, the backup generators in each of the
buildings also failed, plunging the jail into darkness. Some generators flooded because their electrical systems were located in
the basement of facilities. Other generators appear to have failed
because staff members ran out of fuel and/or were untrained at
operating them. Even while the generators were working, power
was not supplied to enable cell doors to open. In some buildings,
prisoners were left trapped in flooded cells without ventilation
and without any possibility of reaching a safe area.

The Contingency Plan requires that departmental vehicles and
watercraft be fueled and tested for proper operation, but it does
nothing to ensure that enough vehicles are available to evacuate thousands of individuals in the event of an emergency.

Only three boats were available to evacuate nearly 7,000 prisoners, along with many hundreds of deputies, staff members,
and civilians.49 Many prisoners waited in Central Lock-Up for
over ten hours in chest-deep water, while boats took a handful
of prisoners at a time to the Broad Street Overpass.

The Contingency Plan states that each building shall be
stocked with a 96-hour supply of food and water, but says
nothing about how food and potable water will be distributed
to staff and prisoners during an emergency.

Prisoners and deputies report that food and water were not
provided for days at a time following the storm. Deputies and
their family members ate the food intended for the prisoners,
while prisoners drank dirty floodwater or water that they collected in garbage cans before the storm.

The Contingency Plan states that the Sheriff shall meet with
the Wardens of each building 24 hours prior to the storm to
discuss the provision of medical services during an emergency, but says nothing about how medical services will be
administered to staff and prisoners during an emergency.
The Contingency Plan also makes no mention of whether
prisoners who are particularly vulnerable should be evacuated in advance of other prisoners.

Deputies and medical staff in several buildings abandoned
patients in need of critical assistance. In at least one building,
all medical supplies were destroyed when the first floor of the
building completely flooded. The loss of power and the general absence of deputies and medical staff from prisoner
areas prevented prompt responses to medical emergencies in
several buildings.

The Contingency Plan provides no information on what training staff members and prisoners should receive on proper
evacuation procedure.

Deputies report that they had no knowledge of any evacuation
plan. When the evacuation began, it was led almost entirely by
DOC guards, not OPP deputies, and it was accomplished in
many buildings with excessive force.

The Contingency Plan states that if a housing area is “rendered unfit for habitation for a period exceeding 12 hours,”
the Sheriff shall call for an “emergency evacuation of the
affected building(s),” and that such an evacuation will be
“coordinated by the Sheriff with the La. DOC, the La. Sheriffs’
Association, or any other available agency.” 50

Flooded areas of several jail buildings were evacuated haphazardly; others were not evacuated at all. Prisoners found themselves trapped behind locked cell doors as rising floodwaters
reached their chests. In many cases, fellow prisoners had to
break open locked cell doors to free trapped prisoners. The
plan does nothing to identify the actual responsibilities that
state and local agencies will have to respond to an emergency.
The state DOC was only contacted to assist with the evacuation on Monday night, after buildings had already flooded, and
chaos was already rampant.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

To his credit, Sheriff Gusman seemingly acknowledged the
inadequacy of the plan when asked about it several months
after the storm. The Sheriff explained that no evacuation
plan in place at the time of the storm could “detail[] what we
did because no one ever imagined we would be surrounded
by 7 to 8 feet of water.”51
In fact, local officials identified precisely that risk fewer
than two years prior to Katrina. In 2003, the Parish convened
a planning team in response to the Disaster Mitigation Act of
2000, a federal law requiring all local governments to develop
disaster plans in order to remain eligible for federal disasterrelief funds. The planning team included representatives from
a wide array of private and public organizations,52 and concluded that the area in which OPP is located faced a risk of
floodwaters rising up to eight feet.53

The Nebraska Emergency Plan
The problems with the Contingency Plan become even starker when the plan is compared with emergency
preparedness systems from other state prison and jail systems. For instance, the Nebraska Department of
Correctional Services has a comprehensive set of policies that provide for a coordinated emergency response
in the event of a natural disaster. The Nebraska DOC employs an Emergency Management Supervisor
charged with emergency preparedness for all DOC facilities. Nebraska has developed a series of interrelated
policies that define who is responsible for what tasks in the event of an emergency, and what criteria should
be used to decide when or whether to evacuate a facility. In the event of a total evacuation, the Nebraska
DOC has policies in place for the sending and receiving institutions, and those policies include information on
the amount of bed space available at each potential receiving facility and the types of prisoners that the facility
is capable of accepting. The policies even identify which receiving facilities have the ability to hold evacuated
prisoners with special needs.
Nebraska’s policies also discuss what steps need to be taken should a facility decide not to evacuate, but
rather to “defend in place.” The policies call for the warehouse to stock thirty days worth of essential provisions. The policies also contain the contact information for emergency services personnel. Finally, the
Nebraska emergency management system provides a series of checklists that are to be used before, during,
and after a disaster to ensure that the most important steps are not forgotten in the middle of an otherwise
chaotic situation.54

27

Prisoners
broke holes in
walls to
escape the
rising
floodwaters.

28

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

III. THE DESCENT INTO CHAOS
There is no precise and reliable count of the number of people in OPP on the day Hurricane Katrina hit. According to
the Sheriff’s statistics, OPP held 6375 prisoners on August
29, 2005.1 This figure includes OPP’s own population of
6021, plus 354 juveniles from YSC who were evacuated to
Templeman V prior to the storm.2 The Sheriff’s count does
not include the more than 270 adult prisoner-evacuees from
St. Bernard Parish, nor the handful of juveniles from St.
Bernard Parish who came to OPP. Media reports vary
wildly, with some estimating that there were as many as 8000
OPP prisoner-evacuees.3
The prisoners ranged in age from 10 to 73, and were
overwhelmingly male (89.5% male, 10.5% female). Although
only 66.6% of Orleans Parish was African-American prior
to the storm,4 OPP’s population at the time of the storm was
almost entirely African-American—89.3% of the population
was black, and only 9.6% were white.5 The racial disparity is
even greater with respect to the juveniles who were being
held in OPP: 98.7% of the juveniles held at CYC were
African-American, and 95% of the juvenile population at the
YSC was African-American.6 More than 300 of the prisoners in OPP on August 29 had been arrested and booked
between August 26-28, when the City of New Orleans and
the State of Louisiana were under states of emergency.
A.

The Phones Go Dead

On Friday, August 26, the prisoners’ phones went dead,
although Hurricane Katrina was still days away from landfall, and the power had not yet been lost in any of the buildings. One prisoner recounts, “[n]o one was allowed to call out
and talk to family members to see where they were going and
if they were going to evacuate.”7 One female prisoner housed
in Conchetta remembers being “pushed back [by deputies]
because I was crying asking why did they turn the phones
off. I wanted to know if my kids were okay.”8 Several prisoners recall seeing deputies using the phones in the control
booths to speak with their loved ones. Another prisoner in
Conchetta says that she was not able to speak to her family
members who lived in the Ninth Ward, an area that was particularly devastated by Katrina; as of October 19, 2005, she

29

still did not know whether her family even survived the
storm.9
On Sunday, many of the prisoners watched Sheriff Gusman’s televised announcement that they would not be evacuated, but would instead remain in the prison to ride out the
storm. Like everyone else in New Orleans, they worried for
their safety and the safety of their loved ones. Unlike so
many others, however, they were powerless to do anything
about it. “What hurted also when Mr. Gusmen said to leave
the inmates where they are. My God, he left us there to die.”10
B.

The Prison Goes into Lockdown

Before the storm, deputies placed all prisoners on lockdown:
those prisoners who were housed in units with cells were
locked behind their cell doors; those prisoners who stayed in
dormitory-style housing units were locked in their dorms.
In Templeman III, Tiers A and B serve as Receiving
Tiers, where prisoners are held for a short period of time
after being arrested and booked. While President Bush was
declaring a state of emergency for Louisiana, and the population of New Orleans was ordered to evacuate the city, OPP
was still packing in its prisoners. Over 100 of the men who
were held in the Receiving Tiers during Hurricane Katrina
had been arrested and booked on minor charges on August
27 or August 28.
One man was arrested five days before the storm for
allegedly having failed to pay an old debt of $100 in fines and
fees.11 He was assigned to Unit B-2, where he spent several
days before the storm sleeping in the common area. He
reports that the riot squad came through the tier to put everyone on lockdown. Although each cell was designed to hold
two people, all of the prisoners were placed into cells. He was
placed in a cell with seven other people. “They maced our
whole cell twice while locking us up for asking when they
would let us out.”12 Another prisoner in that unit also writes,
“we was mace because we was asking them why are they
locking us down where theres water is riseing by the
minute.”13 One prisoner in Unit A-1—arrested several days
before the storm for possession of marijuana (first offense)—
explains that on Monday afternoon, water started to enter his
unit. Prisoners were:

Complaining and becoming loud because of the lack
of food, water and plumbing (we were unable to use
the toilets because the power was out, so all water was
turned off). They [Special Investigation Division]
told us if we’d go back in our cells they would feed us.
We went, they locked us down, and did not return for
hours. They knew water was coming in at that point.
By the time anybody came back, the generator had
gone out and we were pretty much in darkness, with
the water substantially higher (about 3 feet).
14

30

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

R A P H A E L

I

was detained in New Orleans in
August 27, 2005 on a public
intoxication charge. I was brought
to central lock-up at OPP for processing, then I was moved to Unit
B-3 in Templeman III. There were
no empty beds in cells available in
that unit, so I slept in the day room
that night. When I awoke on
August 29, 2005, the day room
floor was covered in several inches
of water. The deputies gave prisoners a mop and bucket and told
them to clean the unit’s floor, and
also announced that we would not
be served breakfast that morning.
We also had not been given food
the previous night. The deputies
then left the unit, as well as the control cage for the unit. Prisoners
used the mop bucket to break the
windows in the day room. Deputies
then re-appeared wearing riot gear
and forced prisoners into cells in
my unit. I was forced into a cell on
the upper tier of the unit with seven
(7) other prisoners. The deputies
then left the unit and disappeared
from the floor. Prisoners began
popping open their cell doors.
Some prisoners broke into the
control cage, and opened cell
doors in the unit. Our cell door
could not be opened. There were
two other cells on my tier that also
could not be opened—one cell
held two prisoners, and the other
cell held one prisoner.
Some deputies returned to the
unit, and took all of the prisoners
who were not locked down in cells
out of the unit. One of the prisoners
in my cell began to kick the cell
door to get the deputies’ attention.
Two deputies came to our cell, and
told the prisoner to stop kicking the
cell door. When the prisoner con-

S C H W A R Z

The window in our cell was broken out, and

we

began waving our orange prison
uniform tops every time we
heard a helicopter pass overhead
in order to signal that we were still in the jail.

tinued to kick the door, the
deputies sprayed two cans of
mace into the cell, and left. I was in
the back of the cell at the time, and
I got mace on my arms. Other prisoners got mace in their eyes and
on their faces. They washed the
mace out with water from the sink
in our cell. Some of us took off the
clothing that had been maced and
threw it out of the cell. The paint on
the cell walls that were hit by mace
began to peel off.
I did not see another deputy for the
next two days. The power went off
in our unit soon after the deputies
left. We did not have ventilation.
We had nothing to eat or drink for a
total of four days. Though our cells
had a toilet, all eight prisoners in
my cell agreed not to use the toilet
in case we could not flush it. The
window in our cell was broken out,
and we began waving our orange
prison uniform tops every time we
heard a helicopter pass overhead,
in order to signal that we were still
in the jail. We attempted to kick the
cell door off of its track. On Tuesday, we broke off the metal top to
the property bin that was below
one of the bunks, and we used the
metal to chisel around the cell window frame in order to kick the
frame out and climb out of the

building. We worked in shifts over
the next two days. By the time we
were rescued Wednesday night,
we had carved around half of the
window frame.
On Tuesday, August 30, 2005, I
saw flashlights in the hallway outside the unit. We began kicking on
our cell door and yelling. Law
enforcement officers came to our
cell. They had weapons. They told
us that they needed a key to open
our cell door, and they left. We did
not see these officers again. The
next day, Wednesday, at around
dusk, a female deputy came into
the unit with a maintenance man,
and another man who had a gun
but no uniform. She told us that
she had been told by officers that
there was no one left in our building. She told us she came in to
investigate only after she saw a
prisoner who had jumped from
another building on to the roof of
Templeman III and had broken his
ankles. She and the maintenance
man opened our cell door through
the control box on our floor. The
female deputy told us that she had
already found three dead bodies
before she got to us during her
search of the building.

ers on our tier, along with about 14
other prisoners she found on the
three other tiers in our unit. We left
the Templeman building through
water that reached my chest (I am
six feet tall). One of the prisoners in
our unit was so weak that we had
to sling him over a cooler that
floated in the water, and pull him
along with us. Once we were outside of Templeman, we were put in
a pick-up truck in groups of ten,
then got on to boats, and were
taken to an underpass, and loaded
on buses bound for Hunt Correctional Facility.
At Hunt, all of the evacuees eventually were put on a football field.
There were many prisoners there
who had shanks and weapons,
and there were assaults and fights.
I did not see an officer on the football field in the three days I spent
there. At Hunt, I spoke with fellow
OPP evacuees who had been
housed at Templeman III during the
hurricane. Some of them told me
that they attempted to swim out of
the building through central lockup, but were shot at from adjoining
buildings. I did hear gunshots
before I was rescued. Another prisoner I met at Hunt told me that he
had been locked down at the
House of Detention. He said that
two deputies found him in his cell.
After being removed from his cell,
one deputy told him to stand
against the wall, while another
deputy told him to move. When he
began to move, he told me that he
was shot with beanbags. He also
told me that a deputy pushed him
down a flight of stairs for not moving
fast enough. He had welts over his
backs, shoulders, and arms.15

She then gathered the 11 prison31

Prisoners were also placed on lockdown in HOD; according to
one deputy, deputies “weren’t supposed to let them out for anything.”16 On Monday during the storm:

The prisoners started getting rowdy. They wanted the
mops to clean the floors, but I said I couldn’t give
them the broom or mop per orders. They were also
upset because they couldn’t take showers because of
the lockdown—the showers were not in the cells, they
were in each tier. It was freezing cold on the tier
because the windows had nothing to block the air
and water. Lots of water kept coming on the floor.
17

Eventually, prisoners began popping open the locks on their
cell doors. This was easy to accomplish in HOD even before
the storm, because the building is old and the facilities are
rundown. “HOD is a raggedy building. In that building . . .
there is no central air or heat. You freeze in winter and burn
up in summer. We would have to bring our own heaters to
work to stay warm. The maintenance on that building was
terrible.”18 When one deputy notified the Watch Commander
on duty that prisoners were opening their cell doors, the
Watch Commander told the deputy to wrap handcuffs and
leg shackles around the gates to secure them: “[b]efore the
storm we used to do this on a normal basis because the
inmates would leave their cells during the night.”19 When
prisoners on the fourth floor managed to get out of their cells,
one prisoner writes: “[D]eputies came up firing rounds down
the hallways to keep us in the cells. . . . [T]hey even handcuffed inmates to bars of the cells.”20
C.

Power Is Lost and the Generators
Quickly Fail

Soon after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the OPP
buildings lost power. Although backup generators in the various buildings initially kicked in, they soon failed. According
to one deputy in Templeman III, the backup generator in that
building only powered certain systems; the generator powered the lights in the building, but did not provide the power
needed to open cell doors, to flush the toilets in the cells, or to
power the ventilation system for the building.21 In Templeman III, as in many other buildings, the lack of ventilation
left prisoners without any fresh air, because the cells and
dorms were sealed. Prisoners on some tiers were provided
with large fans, which were powered by the generator, while
other prisoners did not receive fans, because there were not
enough available.22
According to one deputy in HOD, the building’s lone
backup generator only provided power to the second floor of
the building, where the family members of the deputies
remained throughout the storm.23 Power was lost completely
on the floors holding prisoners.24 Another deputy agrees that
the HOD generator failed on Tuesday “because [it was] old,
and probably no one knew how to operate [it]. I know they
tried to get some diesel to put in there and somehow something went wrong and [it] didn’t crank back up. [It was] only
on for a couple of hours.”25

32

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Even if the generators had been properly connected to
essential systems, the power they would have provided would
not have lasted very long. Shortly after the generators kicked
in, the levees broke and “water rushed into the jail and
swamped the generators, along with the major mechanical
and electrical systems located in the basement.”26 Many
months after the storm, Sheriff Gusman admitted, “[w]e
started to have power failures because the generators were
not placed high enough when the floodwaters came.”27 The
fact that the generators were not placed in a secure location—above 100-year flood levels—is a major failure of planning on the part of the Sheriff and local officials. It was only
months after Katrina that Sheriff Gusman acknowledged
that “you have to be really careful and not have electrical
equipment in lower-lying areas and vulnerable locations.”28
Other generators apparently failed because the jail ran
out of fuel. Sheriff Gusman notes that in one building, although
the generator itself did not fail, “[t]he tank was on the ground
floor, so [the warden] couldn’t refill it once the water came
up.”29 One deputy in HOD recalls a Sergeant attempting to fill
the generator with diesel fuel until the fuel ran out.30 Deputy
Ducre saw a Sergeant and a Corporal attempting to fill a generator with diesel fuel, but neither man knew how to make the
generator work, and it eventually failed.31
Without power, prisoners spent their nights in total darkness, in conditions that were growing increasingly foul due to
the lack of ventilation and sanitation, and the presence of
chest-deep floodwaters on the lower levels of the prison buildings. Many prisoners remained locked in their cells with bodily waste flowing out of the non-functioning toilets. The jail
became unbearably hot, which made it difficult for many
inmates to breathe.
D.

Abandoned By the Sheriff, Many
Deputies Abandon Their Posts

Female prisoners in Conchetta and Templeman IV, and
male prisoners housed on some floors of HOD, report that
deputies largely remained on duty following Katrina. However, hundreds of prisoners report that deputies from other
buildings abandoned their posts during and after the storm.
After interviewing more than a dozen deputies and employees in the weeks after Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans
Times-Picayune reported “wholesale job walk-offs by
deputies,” and wrote that “[a]ll of the sources told about multiple resignations, deputies who tossed their badges to the
ground and turned their shirts inside out, only to find themselves in the awkward position of being stuck by floodwaters
alongside their former colleagues.”32 Deputy Renard Reed
had worked as a sheriff’s deputy for over seven years at the
time of the storm. He reports that in HOD: “Once the power
went out, deputies started quitting right and left. They didn’t
leave the building of course, but they just didn’t go back to
work. Women especially got scared once the storm hit and
the power went out.”33
Deputies reported to duty at the prison on the Saturday
and Sunday before the storm. Prison administrators notified
the deputies that they had to report to work, or risk being
fired. The decision to report was difficult for some, because

they had to choose between evacuating the city with their
family members and keeping their jobs. One deputy chose to
report because she did not want to lose her job. “[T]hey told
me I’d be fired if I didn’t come in. I wasn’t doing anything.
They stopped me from evacuating. And my family and
everybody evacuated without me.”34 Many of those who did
report came with loved ones in tow. Deputy Ducre arrived
on Sunday afternoon with her husband, four kids, and several close friends. They settled down in a kitchen on the second floor of the House of Detention with many other
people.35 Deputy Reed decided to report while his wife evacuated to Georgia. He explains: “I never considered bringing
my family with me into the jail. I don’t believe in bringing my
family there. I don’t want them in that environment.”36
When the storm hit, and conditions inside the buildings
deteriorated, morale quickly collapsed. According to Deputy
Foster, “[a]ll the hard work we put in every day, we risk our
lives going into the jail and dealing with these inmates. And
when something comes like a hurricane we bring our families
in because we think they’re going to be safe and think they’re
going to have food and water. Gusman totally disappointed me
and let me down when we needed him the most.” 37
Shortly after the storm, supervisors in the House of
Detention notified the deputies that their off-days would be
cancelled. According to one deputy, this meant that she
would have to remain at her post after her shift ended.
“Unless you quit, and went down to the second floor, everyone else had to stay on the floor with the inmates.”38 Another
deputy agrees: “[W]e were told that we had to stay but
weren’t getting paid when we didn’t work. I wasn’t really
doing anything but stressing out and pacing.”39 Deputies in
Templeman III were also told that they would be working
around the clock, but were not going to receive pay for additional duty.40 Deputy Shantia Barnes resigned her position on
the third day after Hurricane Katrina hit when she was told
that the guards would be left to fend for themselves once the
prisoners were evacuated.41
Deputy Ducre, who was four months pregnant at the time
of the storm, began spotting and cramping, and a nurse told
one of her lieutenants that she needed to rest for one day or
risk a miscarriage.42 “He just stared at me and waited for me to
get up. If I thought I could, I would have done it. So basically
they fired me because I couldn’t go to work that night.” 43

33

DEPUTY RHONDA R. DUCRE

There has never been a plan for what
to do when the hurricanes hit. To my knowledge,

there

was no preparation for this storm.

out onto the mezzanine of the
building and found supervisors
barbequing, surrounded by 50
cases of water.

I

was a Sheriff’s deputy for four
years at the time of Hurricane
Katrina. For all of those years, I
worked in the House of Detention.
Before the storm hit New Orleans,
we received forms from the Sheriff’s
office telling us that it was our obligation to come to work during the
storm. All employees are obligated
to come to work, and if you do not
you are supposed to be terminated.
I came into work on Sunday afternoon, and I brought with me my
husband, four children, and a few
close friends. In my four years there
has never been a plan for what to
do when hurricanes hit. To my
knowledge, there was no preparation for this storm. If there had been
anything special for us to know, I figure they would have told us about it.
My family settled into the 2nd Floor
of the House of Detention. When it
was time for me to go to work, I
was assigned to the 5th Floor,
where the juveniles are. At some
point, inmates started to complain
that their phones weren’t working,

When the levees broke, the kitchen
connected to the Community Correctional Center went underwater,
and there was no food to give the
inmates. They ate one last time
and it was a sandwich. It was at
that point—when the water was
shut down, the power was off, and
the food was not coming on
time—that everything got really
hectic. From the 2nd Floor, we
could hear prisoners shaking bars.
They hadn’t eaten, knew the water
was rising, couldn’t get in touch

what happened after that.

with families, and were hearing
rumors. They started making
noise—it sounded kind of like an
army shaking on the bars. The
supervisors got shotguns, and
when my kids saw them going
upstairs with the shotguns they
really got scared.

On Monday, the day of the storm,
there was heavy rain, and the

After the power went out, I moved
to the 3rd Floor, which is where the

but I knew the phones were working for the deputies. I called and
told the people working the control
room that the inmates’ phones
were not working, but I don’t know

34

power went on and off. Monday
evening the power went out
entirely, and the backup generators
came on until the levees broke.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

general population was being held.
I was moved because I was four
months pregnant and the elevators
quit. At one point I started getting
cramps and I was also spotting. I
told my supervisor about the problem, and some nurses told my
supervisor that I needed to rest
one day and should not be
returned to duty. I was supposed
to get an off day anyway, but they
wanted to cancel our off days.
When it was time to go to roll call to
report to duty, I said that I couldn’t
go to work, and my supervisor
basically told me that if I didn’t
report to work immediately, I didn’t
have to bother reporting at all. I figure I was fired.
The State Department of Corrections finally initiated the removal of
the inmates. That happened on
Wednesday and Thursday morning. The deputies had food to feed
themselves, and we wanted to put
all of our food together so that we
could ration it. When the deputies
were out of food, however, I went

I was finally evacuated to the Overpass on Friday, after all of the prisoners were gone. When I got there
on Friday, nobody knew what the
deputies were supposed to do.
You could get on a helicopter, but I
didn’t want to leave without my
family intact. I couldn’t climb down
the scaffolding, because I was
pregnant, so I waited for a helicopter to bring my family to the airport.
I did see Sheriff Gusman in a boat
riding to the bridge on Friday, but I
never saw him during the storm.
I returned to New Orleans to resign
my position as a deputy in January
2006. I turned in my badge and my
commission badge and I signed a
release. I left the Sheriff’s Office
because I wasn’t planning on
going back to New Orleans, but
even if I did return I wouldn’t go
back under the current leadership.
They should have been more prepared. Sheriff Gusman’s people
were reporting that he waded
through the water to cut through
bars with handcuffs in his mouth.
That man didn’t touch that water,
and he didn’t try to tell anyone no
different. My child was born on
February 9, 2006. 44 ■

One deputy in Templeman III recalls that throughout Monday evening, deputies were moving some of the prisoners in
the lower-level cells on the first floor to different parts of the
building, and were moving St. Bernard Parish prisoners from
the flooded gymnasium to another flooded area on the first
floor of the building. “Once the moving of inmates was done,
that Monday night — every deputy other than myself went to
sleep, including the ones who were scheduled to work the
night shift . . . . All of the deputies were pulled from the
tiers.”45 A prisoner in South White Street reports, “some
guards quit the job doing the storm. They couldn’t handle it.
They thought there lives was in jeopardy to.”46
E.

“standing one foot on one bunk & one foot on the bunk
across & pissing.”52

Trapped: Prisoners Remain on Lockdown
as Floodwaters Rise

On Monday, August 29, floodwaters began to enter the
lower levels of the OPP buildings. According to one prisoner
on the bottom floor of the Old Parish Prison, “we had water
past our feet at the time, they [the deputies] gave us brooms
and told us sweep the water out the cells.”47 On the first floor
of Conchetta, deputies ordered one prisoner “to use a
squeegie and pushbroom to push rising water of ground floor
coming from outside and from inside sewer drains. It was
futile. I looked for sandbags thinking we would use those for
doorways and saw none.”48 Another prisoner in South White
Street reports that as a janitor/floor worker, or “Yank,” he
was ordered to place sandbags to prevent water from entering the building. Once that was done, he returned to his unit,
where he remained until water began flooding his cell the
next day.49
On the first floor of Templeman II, prisoners saw water
seeping into the dorm through drainage holes in the floor.
According to one prisoner, they began

sweeping the water under the door, in order to get the
water from out the tier. . . . Unfortunately that didn’t work, water continue to rise. Before I knew it my
bottom bunk was underneath water. At this point I
knew for sure the deputies was nowhere in the building. Still time continue to pass by, water still rising.
No food for us to eat. Finally a female deputy came
by we shouted to her about our conditions. She than
replied there’s nothing we can do because there’s
water everywhere and she left. At this point water
had risen to at least 4 ft deep. I thought for sure I
would never see freedom again.
50

Many of the women in Templeman IV were being held on
minor offenses such as prostitution or simple drug possession. Templeman IV contains dormitory-style housing units
with triple-stacked bunk beds. When water began to enter the
building, it quickly rose to chest-level, forcing the women to
climb onto the second and third levels of their bunks. One
female prisoner reports: “[w]omen were made to urinate and
deficate over the sides of the beds into the water; the water
was well over the toilet seats.”51 Another woman recalls

35

THE DEATH OF IRIS L. HARDEMAN
... because of being transported to Angola, and

not hav-

ing any paperwork, [my sister] never
got her release.

I

ris L. Hardeman was a 53-yearold, African-American woman
who had been arrested in March
2005 on minor charges. Ms.
Hardeman had been in OPP
before, and many of the women
who were in Templeman IV (Unit
B) with her during the storm
remember her from years past.

According to Gedra Payne
Robinson, Ms. Hardeman’s closest friend at OPP, Ms. Hardeman
took high blood pressure medication as well as heart medication.53
“Iris was always complaining
about having bad headaches; her
head hurt real bad.”54 Because of
Ms. Hardeman’s poor health, she
had a pass requiring that she be
assigned to a bottom bunk.
Approximately three weeks before
the storm, Ms. Hardeman began
to complain of bad chest pains
and difficulty breathing. Joyce
Gilson was present at the time:
“You could see it in her face. She
was weak and she wasn’t feeling
good. It took them about a half an
hour to come and get her to the
infirmary.”55 Ms. Payne Robinson,
whose bed was right next to Ms.
Hardeman’s, believes that she
“had a real bad heart attack and
she went to the hospital and
stayed gone a couple of days, but
they brought her back.”56
When Ms. Hardeman returned
to the dorm, several of the
women checked in on her.
Although she said she was fine,
the women were concerned for
her health. Ms. Hardeman took a
sharp turn for the worse a few of
days before the storm. “Iris was
feeling really bad. We kept calling the nurse, and Iris went out
to see the nurse at some point.
When she came back she went
straight to her bed.”57 Ms. Payne
Robinson believes that Ms.
Hardeman had a stroke, and she

36

recalls that an ambulance came
for Ms. Hardeman to bring her to
Charity Hospital.
After three days, Ms. Hardeman
returned to the dorm with a new
prescription for medication.
When the storm hit, and Unit B
began to fill with water, Ms.
Hardeman was forced to climb
to the top bunk along with the
other women. Many hours later,
deputies moved the women to
the Templeman III building.
When they arrived, they were
placed in a room that had previously been the scene of a fire.
The air was filled with smoke,
and the women still received no
food or water. According to Ms.
Bailey Wilson, Ms. Hardeman
“was doing a lot of sleeping”
when they moved her to Templeman III.58 The women were eventually moved from Templeman III
to Central Lock-Up, where they
had to stand for hours in deep
water. “We were helping to hold
her up in the water.”59
According to Ms. Gilson, after
14 hours in Central Lock-Up Ms.
Hardeman was taken by boat to
the Broad Street Overpass. “We
was all instructed to sit down
and stay where we were. I knew
Iris was sick, and I was concerned for her.”60 When many of
the women were loaded onto a
bus to be transported to the
Louisiana State Penitentiary at
Angola, Ms. Hardeman was
transferred by van.
At Angola, Ms. Hardeman and
Ms. Payne Robinson were placed

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in Camp F, 4-Right. According to
Ms. Payne Robinson:
When we got to Angola, we were
fed, we saw a doctor, and we had
to tell the doctor what kind of medication we were taking. A couple of
days after that we had a physical by
a doctor. It took about three days
for me to get my medication. Iris got
her medication at Angola as well. At
Angola, Iris started to swell up with
fluid. Her feet swelled up with fluid; I
had never seen her fill up with fluid
like that before. She put in sick call
slips at Angola, but I don’t think she
had a chance to see a doctor. In
September, in the early morning
hours—maybe 3am—I was in my
bed sleeping and hers was next to
mine. I don’t sleep hard, but she
wasn’t feeling good that night. She
got up, said my name, and kind of
reached over to touch me. She fell
off her bed and hit her head on the
corner of my bed. I got up and
called the officers. They called the
ambulance, and they took photographs, and they took her away.61
The rest of Iris Hardeman’s
account comes from her brother,
William Hardeman. When Mr.
Hardeman heard the above
account of his sister’s final weeks
in jail, it was the first time he
heard about what she had experienced during and after Katrina.
“You telling me that story just put
everything out of my mind,” he
explained.62
My family lost everything in Katrina.
We lived in Mid-City, and when I
went back almost a year after the
storm there was nothing to recover.

After the storm, my family and I
were living in a shelter. The Red
Cross had representatives come
around to see if there were any family members they could try to locate
for us. We knew Iris had been
arrested, so they took down her
name and her last whereabouts in
the city of New Orleans, and they
did whatever they do. Eventually a
family in Houma, Louisiana, took
us in, and one day Red Cross gave
us a call to say that my sister was
in Baton Rouge, in the hospital.
My mother and I went to the hospital, and Iris was in intensive care, in
a coma. They had a guard right
there in the room. Initially we were
there about three days, three
nights. Then we had to leave,
because my mother is elderly and
she needed her own medical
attention. We later came back and
stayed almost about a week. We
slept right there in the waiting area
of the hospital. There were some
blankets and pillows. The guard
was in the room at all times.
When Iris passed, we had actually
gone back to Abita Springs to get
a change of clothes and come
right back, and we got a call from
the hospital saying that we should
come right back to the hospital.
And that was like 9am, but it was
kind of obvious once we got there
that my sister had already passed
away. We had no money. We didn’t
have credit cards or that stuff; it
was all lost in the flood. So we got
some donations from a church in
Covington, Louisiana and used
that money for a crematory. That
was the most that we could do.
We were told that my sister was
actually supposed to be released
shortly after Katrina, but because of
being transported to Angola, and not
having any paperwork, she never got
her release. But who knows.63 ■

In Templeman III, one deputy recalls that when the water
started to enter the building: “Our supervisors told us not to
worry about it, so at first we did nothing. The water went
from an inch to literally three feet in a matter of minutes.
Then it eventually got up to four feet. This is on the first floor
of the building. That’s when they decided to start moving
inmates.”64 The prisoners who most urgently needed to be
moved were those who were locked in the lower-level cells in
A-, B-, E-, and F-Sides, as well as the St. Bernard Parish
prisoners who had been locked in the first-floor gymnasium.
David Williams was arrested and booked on a charge of
public intoxication on August 27. Mr. Williams was placed in
a cell on the lower level of Unit A-1 in Templeman III. Mr.
Williams describes his experience in Unit A-1:

I initially was booked and incarcerated on Sat. Aug.
27th. I was placed in TP3/A1 before noon and by
4pm the phones were purposely cut off, so I had no
contact with my family members. We vaguely
received a report about the possible evacuation
before the televisions were turned off in the middle of
the news broadcast. This was cause for alarm,
because we were made to go into our cells and the
deputies were constantly leaving their post. We are
now locked down with no idea of what was to
become of us. I constantly yelled for a deputy, only to
be ignored. As an entire 24 hr. period passed we ate
only once more. Now it is Sunday night and panic
has set in because we began to suspect that something
awful was about to take place and we are helpless to
fend for ourselves. As the first waves of the storm
came in, the lights (all power) went out. Into Monday morning—still locked down, no power, no food,
no water. Into the evening on Monday, the toilets
began to fill with water. The drains in the back of the
dorm began to overflow with water and now we see
the sewerage system backing up into the dorm—
water began to rise slowly. I panicked to no avail
because there was no way possible that I could open
the steel cell locks to free myself. Now the water is
waist deep, deputies come into the dorm, some
armed with bean-bag guns, clubs, and others with
crow bars. They had to use the crow bars to pry the
cells open.
65

Another prisoner in Unit A-1 explains that the water was 5 to
6 feet deep by the time prison officials returned to free the prisoners from their locked cells. “Inmates were on the top bunk
in their cells trying to escape the water. Due to the water the
cell doors short circuited. The staff had to use long hammers
to try in force the doors open. It was a race against time!”66

37

ALBERT G. COUVILLION
I was scared as was a lot of people. We were thinking

there may be a free-for-all. There
were no deputies in the facility.

B

efore the storm I was in St.
Bernard Parish Prison. Maybe
around 12:30 pm on Sunday,
August 28th, they put us in buses
and took hundreds of us to Orleans
Parish Prison. They put us in a big
gym facility, where we were fed two
times. We were also given water to
drink, but whoever was able to get
water before the container ran dry
got water. That was the last water
we had for days. When we first
arrived, one guy was coughing up
blood and a St. Bernard Parish
deputy said he couldn’t take the
guy to the hospital because the
Sheriff wouldn’t want cars to get
damaged.

Five hours after we arrived in the
gym we were given mats to lie on;
this was done in the same disorganized way. After people got mats
the St. Bernard Parish deputies left,
and there was no supervision after
around 5:00 pm on Sunday. The
tension was real high in the gym.
There were only two bathrooms for
hundreds of people. There were
groups of people going around
fighting with different people picked
at random. I was scared as was a
lot of people. We were thinking

38

there may be a free-for-all. There
were no deputies in the facility. The
hurricane became worse late Sunday early Monday afternoon.
Around 4:00 pm it was knee deep
in an hour. Some people got
through an open door and
escaped. Two got caught. I know
of one who escaped. Shots were
fired, but I saw no dead bodies.
After the escapes the deputies
came in and took a count of prisoners. The water was waist-deep, and
when they were through they left
again. The water continued to rise.
The deputies came back and promised food and water. It never came.
Finally they threw loaves of bread to
our crowd, and most went in the
water; people were screaming to be
brought upstairs but the deputies
left again and didn’t return. While
we were in the gym, one inmate
who was epileptic had some
seizures. There were no deputies
there, so at first we put him on his
back. One of the other inmates told
us to put the guy on his side so he
wouldn’t choke on his tongue or
something, so we did that.

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The water rose another foot by the
time the deputies from St. Bernard
returned to move us early in the
morning on August 30. We thought
they were going to move us
upstairs, but when they led us
down the hall and opened the door
to F Side I couldn’t believe they
were going to put us in another
area on the first floor. The water
was above the tabletops in the day
room. The people who had been in
that area before had already been
moved upstairs, so I don’t know
why they put us there. Some people stayed on the top bunks in the
lower level cells, but most of us
crammed into cells on the upper
level—7 to 8 in a two-man cell—
and on the walkway along the
cells. Some people put on fresh
clothes and shoes from the Orleans
Parish inmates who had been
evacuated from these cells. When
the water level continued to rise,
the people who had decided to
stay downstairs came upstairs,
crowding us even more. No one
could see, because the lights had
been off since Monday and it was

now dark. People were lighting styrofoam plates, paper—anything to
see where we were. People were
scared and were screaming that
they could not swim. At one point,
Orleans Parish juveniles who were
in another tier came into our area
and started breaking windows and
attacking people.
On Wednesday, we were escorted
out with our hands on our heads,
and automatic guns pointed at us.
I waded through slimy, greasy,
trash-filled sewage water up to my
neck to boats waiting for us 11/2
blocks from the jail. I climbed into a
boat by getting on the tailgate of a
pickup truck, and was taken to the
Broad Street Overpass. On the
Overpass, a group of Orleans
Parish inmates came up to us
because they saw some of us
were wearing their shoes and their
clothing. People started shoving
and a St. Bernard Parish deputy
sprayed mace at the crowd—I got
hit in the face, chest and arm and
my body burned for half an hour. I
later was hit by tear gas a second
time on the Overpass.67 ■

When the St. Bernard Parish prisoners were finally moved
from the flooded gymnasium, they were brought to F-Side, still
on the first floor of the building. “Where they brought us next
was worse than where we were before. They brought us to Fside in Templeman III where the water was up to our shoulders inside of a tier where people were still locked in lower cells
screaming for us to help. There was no guards in the control
booths, no food, no water, lights, or medical attention.”68 One
deputy who reports that he assisted with the transfer explains
that “[w]e moved the St. Bernard inmates to F-Side—we put
them in the dorms, not in the cells. They were on the lower
level, so the only way they could have gotten out of the water
would have been if they had gone up the steps to the F-Side
mezzanine. We didn’t have anywhere to put them.”69
F.

Food and Water Are Nowhere to Be
Found

Although the Contingency Plan called for stockpiling enough
food and potable water to last 96 hours, nearly every prisoner
with whom we spoke reports going days after the storm without receiving either.
Deputy Ducre was on duty in HOD when the storm hit.
She reports that “when the levees broke, the kitchen connected to the Community Correctional Center went underwater, and there was no food to give the inmates. They ate
one last time and it was a sandwich.”70 Another deputy
agrees, noting that the food ran out on Tuesday. “Apparently,
they were trying to feed the inmates plus trying to feed the
employees and their families and eventually ran out.”71 A
third deputy in HOD similarly recalls: “[t]he inmates only got
one piece of cheese. The food that was for the inmates was
given to the families.”72 Deputies were “walking down the tier
with a shotgun giving the inmates one piece of cheese. They
didn’t have any water for them.”73 The only water deputies
gave to prisoners were bags of ice, which were distributed to
groups of 30 prisoners. According to this last deputy, no ice
remained by Wednesday night.74
In Templeman III, prisoners received no food after their
Sunday night meal, according to deputies.75 One prisoner
from the Templeman III building who served as a Tier Representative was called to a pre-storm meeting with the ranking officer on duty. According to this prisoner, the officer told
the Tier Representatives to prepare for the worst. She
advised them to “fill garbage cans with water so we would be
able to flush toilets if we lost power.”76 Another Tier Representative in Templeman III met with the Warden of Templeman III, Chief Gary Bordelon: “Chief Bordelon told us to get
prepare for a serious mess in our jail. He told us to fill all the
trash cans with water so we would have water to flush the
toiles. Now he never mention anything about how we was
suppose to feed the dorm.”77
Brady Richard reports that in CCC, staff, deputies, and
family members were rationing their food. Each person was
given an orange and some sliced bread, while the prisoners
received nothing.78
In Conchetta, the kitchen was located on the first floor,
which began to fill with water on Monday afternoon. One
prisoner reports that she was:

Ordered to move deputies personal belongings to the
3rd floor classroom. When asked about the food in
kitchen (kitchen was on 1st floor) boxes of cereal,
leftover grits, crates of bread, cheese in refridgerator—was told to not worry about it to just get there
stuff—I then assisted inmates on locked dorms 1-1 to
move their belongings and mattresses upstairs to 22 then my dorm inmates belongings & mattresses to
dorm 2-1, when asked what else I could do to help
about food downstairs I was told to go on dorm 2-1
and they locked us all in. We waited hours for food—
none came and then generators went down. No
power, no windows, no air, no food.
79

Dozens of female prisoners in Conchetta report that
deputies had prisoners fill garbage cans with water in
advance of the storm. According to one woman held on the
second floor: “The tier reps filled up our used garbage cans
with water. That was the water we used to bath with and
drink. It was nasty, dirty and funky. One large garbage can
for over a hundred women.”80
With no water to drink, many of the prisoners resorted
to drinking the contaminated floodwater, or water that was
backed-up in the toilets. One man in the Old Parish Prison
reports, “the only water we had was from the toilet and when
we had to use the restroom we had to take our waste from
the toilet and throw it out the window.”81 Another prisoner in
the Old Parish Prison writes: “As we the (inmates) were
yelling for the deputies we were getting negative responds
from them like: you better do the best you can with what you
got, when mentioning about us being dehydrated and hungry,
we were then told that we better swallow our (spit) or drink
the toilet water which was contaminated, from chemicals,
urine and bowel’s from inmates.”82

Denial of Medical Care
“I will not just accept that this happened to me.”83
G.

The Contingency Plan calls for the Sheriff to meet with
each building’s Warden one day before a storm’s expected
arrival to discuss, among other matters, “provision of medical services to inmates.”84 The medical services provided in a
jail range from responding to a prisoner’s complaints about
his or her health, to handling promptly a medical emergency
such as a seizure or a severe asthma attack. Many prisoners
also require daily medications or special diets to treat chronic
conditions such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and heart disease.
More than half of the 6000+ OPP prisoners were receiving
some kind of medication prior to the storm.85 Regardless of
whether Sheriff Gusman met with each of the Wardens prior
to the storm, it is clear that proper medical care was entirely
absent in the days immediately following Hurricane Katrina.
OPP endangered the lives of its HIV positive prisoners
by failing to provide them with their medications after the
storm. Since the advent of combination drug therapy a
decade ago, patients living with HIV/AIDS have been

39

advised of the importance of adhering to their HIV drug regimens. Clinical studies have shown that patients who interrupt drug treatment have higher rates of HIV-related health
problems, including death.cclxxx The National Commission
on Correctional Healthcare (“NCCHC”)—the leading correctional health care organization in the nation—offers the
following recommendation to prison and jail health care
providers: “Successful HIV therapy requires that there be no
interruption in antiviral medications. Correctional medical
programs can assure this necessary continuity by establishing mechanisms to enhance the continuous availability of
HIV treatment to infected patients.”87

40

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K E A N N A

H E R B E R T

From the neglect of O.P.P.

I developed a

severe bacteria infection in my
stomach which made it swell to the size of a 9 month
pregnant women.

P

rior to Hurricane Katrina,
Keanna Herbert was housed
in the Medical Observation Unit
(“M.O.U.”) of Templeman I. Several months after being evacuated from OPP to the Louisiana
Correctional Institute for Women
(“LCIW”), Ms. Herbert wrote to
the ACLU:
During my inccarcerration at
O.P.P. my health was very poor. I
am diabetic and am HIV positive.
During Katrina extreme medical
care was needed and not provided. From the neglect of O.P.P. I
developed a severe bacteria infection in my stomach which made it
swell to the size of a 9 month preg-

nant women. This is still visible and
pictures should be taken. . . . Due
to neglect my T-cells went down to
11 making me extremely ill. No
medication’s were adminisitered,
injections for diabetes, nor HIV
treatment etc.88
Months later, Ms. Herbert wrote
to the ACLU again, after she had
been returned to OPP from
LCIW. Ms. Herbert wrote:
“I am wrighting back to stress the
importance and seriousness of my
accuations. I do not have the ability

to care for the problems that came
about when M.O.U. (Medical
Observation Unit), by no choice of
my own, disregarded my problems
overlooked the fact that everyone
needed to be evacuated.
The outcome of that tragic mistake
has left me and my already serious
problems worse with much more
complications on top them. As I
made it clear in my 1st letter I am
HIV positive also a diabetic. I take
care of myself, treat myself. All that
is choices I have made sure that
my problems are taken care of.

In the days of Katrina my choice to
do so was taken from me and put
in the hands of M.O.U. We were
abandoned there for 3 days in
stagnant water without care for any
of my problems.
In those 3 days I received an infection that affected me so bad that I
looked as though I was 9 months
pregnant. I recieved no care till I
got to St. Gabriel where I was put
in the hospital and had the infection drained out of my stomach.
I will not just accept that this happened to me.” 89 ■

41

One HIV positive prisoner who was in the Old Parish
Prison during the storm writes that OPP “had a lot of sick
people without there medication, which I was one of those
people without my medication, and the medication is H.I.V.
medication.”90 He explains that he was finally evacuated
from OPP and transferred first to Hunt Correctional Center
and then to Rapides Parish Detention Center (“RPDC”).
From RPDC, he wrote:

[T]hey treat me bad, meaning the food my medication I’m not getting, then the mental disturbances
from the guards at Rapides Parish. All they do is
harress me all day for know reason, all I be asking for
is the medications I need, and the food that goes with
the medications, do to the medications I take which is
H.I.V. med I need the proper food, which I’m not
getting, I’m not getting the proper medications. It’s
my life they are messings with.
91

At the time of the storm, OPP also held a number of pregnant women. At least ten pregnant OPP prisoners ended up
being evacuated to Angola.92 Two women report that they
suffered miscarriages in OPP after the storm. One woman
was seven months pregnant when Katrina hit. During the
storm, she suffered a miscarriage and “[t]hey didn’t do anything to help me at OPP.”93 It was not until she arrived at
Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola that she received
treatment. Another woman, held in Templeman IV Unit B,
reports that she “was refuse medical help so I miscarried and
had blood all over me.”94 When she was evacuated from OPP
and brought to the Broad Street Overpass, she writes:

[W]e slept out there all night long in urine because
we couldn’t get up. I passed out because I was bleeding very bad. No we didn’t receive water or food.
They refuse to give me medical service at all. . . .
These days I wake up in cold sweats at night. I’m so
afraid these days I bearly sleep and when I do I wake
up in a cold sweat crying. I don’t think I will ever get
over this at all. I thought I was going to die and never
see my kids or family ever again. I prayed so much
that day and night and God heard my prayers.
95

Another pregnant prisoner was transferred from St. Bernard
Parish Prison to Conchetta. Once she arrived, she was led to
the 3rd Floor, and given a meal. She and her fellow prisoners
then went without food for four days. “There was one deputy
that tried to work with me since I was pregnant. She would
give me some of her snacks, granola, a bottle of water.”96 The
officers let her sleep on the floor by a large hallway window
so that she could get some air.97
In Conchetta, at least one nurse remained on duty after
the storm, but she was unable to provide the female prisoners
housed there with any medical care. “There was no medication on or at hand, only a nurse was present. All medical supplies and medicine was under water on the 1st floor.”98 One
woman writes, “women were having seizures, birthing pains,

42

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

panic and asthma attacks.”99 Another woman states: “Tuesday, I was woken up from screams because an elderly
woman was catching a seizure and all we could do was
watch and fan her not knowing if she was going to be okay
but we all started praying and God must have heard our cries
because she came threw. . . . [A] lady was going in labor and
had her baby in all of that pollution.”100
Asthmatic prisoners reported suffering severe attacks
after Katrina. Some prisoners ran out of asthma medication,
and others lost their asthma pumps in the floodwaters. One
17-year-old being held with the adult population in Templeman III reports that he left his dorm to check on his uncle.
When he found his uncle: “[H]e was drinking chemical water
because that was all he had to drink. . . . I had to go and find
him some water. He had asthma and didn’t anymore medical
to use. I also have asthma but it didn’t affect me.”101 Another
prisoner in Templeman III writes:

I have asthma very bad & could not breath because
inmates were setting fires in tha jail. So for 3 days I
drunk sink water & was sticking my nose out of a lil
window that someone had bust open for fresh air
because it was so foggy & moint in tha jail. My cell
mates kept trying to help me by sticking T-shirts out
that window so tha fresh breeze could hit because I
started having a astma attack. Finally after Sunday,
Monday, Tuesday of being lockdown in my cell I was
rescued by some other inmates who spot me lying on
tha floor gasping for air thanks to my cellmates who
kept hollering for help for me.
102

One deputy was on duty several days after the storm when a
prisoner in HOD suffered an asthma attack. She states:

I know of one specific instance during the storm that
an inmate was having an asthma attack and they
thought he was gonna die. He could not breathe.
They brought the medical team to the floor but they
could not give him medical treatment because it was
total lockdown and they couldn’t open the door.
They couldn’t let nobody out or in. They opened up
the tier, but not the cell, and they gave him a breathing mask or whatever and injected him with some
type of medication, I don’t know what it was.
103

Deputy Reed recalls what may be the same, or a similar, incident that took place several days after the storm on the 3rd
Floor of the building. He recalls that when the prisoner’s condition continued to worsen, he:

tried to beat on the back door to get help, but no one
heard. Eventually, I had to knock out a window with
a broomstick to get help. Someone downstairs happened to hear me, and they called medical. There
was no running water or anything, and they had to

bring him oxygen to save him. The doctors came and
saved his life.
104

One prisoner on the 3rd Floor of HOD appears to recount
the same incident, writing:

One of my cellmates caught a asthma attack. It took
at least 25 minutes before help arrived. The deputies
claim that they just had one set of keys throughout the
whole building, so they had to scream for the certain
deputy to come and due to the power being out no
door or cell could be open so they had to work on him
through the bars.
105

When one of his cellmates at the House of Detention
started to have a seizure, a prisoner says he called for the
guards. “He went to shaking and his eyes went to rolling and
stuff. One of the OPP deputies was trying to hand him water,
but we were reaching for it too. They finally got him out of
the cell after 20 minutes and took him away, but they brought
him back.”106
Dr. R. Demaree Inglese was OPP’s Medical Director at
the time of the storm. After the storm, he attributed his
inability to provide proper medical care to prisoners during
the storm to their bad behavior. “It would have been easier,”
he stated, “had they not been lighting fires or breaking
through cinderblock walls.”107 Of course, those who lit fires
to signal for help, and broke through walls in order to escape
dangerous conditions, were driven to do so after they were
abandoned in the jail.
The physically disabled prisoners housed in the firstfloor M.O.U. of Templeman I required particular attention
during and after the storm. One wheelchair-bound prisoner
explains: “I was in a wheelchair and my whole unit was fill
with sewer water. The deputies left they post and we had to
kick on the door to get help. It took for the water to get over
our beds before we were moved and when they did move us,
they brought us upstairs in a small room on the second
floor.”108 Several months before the storm, one prisoner in
Unit A-4 had his right leg amputated due to bone cancer. He
reports that deputies abandoned their posts, leaving him “in a
medical housing unit in a wheelchair in such a dangerous situation and I actually drowned. Fortunately a guy on the tier
knew CPR and brought me back to life.”109 He continues:
“There is no way a man with one leg could swim in all that
water.”110 “[M]any amputated inmates had to be carried out
by other inmates due to shortage or refusal of deputies.”111

43

T H E D E AT H OF T Y RONE L EW IS

yrone Lewis was born on June
11, 1961. He was a gifted
musician who wrote many popular
songs, including some that were
performed and recorded by the
Neville Brothers. He was an active
member of the Austerlitz Street
Baptist Church, where he often

T

gave free concerts of his Gospel
music. Approximately five years
ago, doctors implanted a pacemaker-defibrillator into Mr. Lewis’s
chest to treat his chronic heart
problems.112
On July 11, 2005, Mr. Lewis was
booked and placed in Templeman I
(Unit B-1). According to Gary
Wainwright, the Lewis family’s
attorney, Mr. Lewis notified the
OPP staff at booking that he had
been hit in the chest shortly before
his arrest and that the blow may
have dislodged his pacemakerdefibrillator.113 During the time he
was held at OPP, Mr. Lewis routinely complained to deputies
about chest pains and shortness
of breath.114 His sister made
numerous calls to the jail on his
behalf, telling staff of her brother’s
need for proper heart medication.115 According to Mr. Wainwright, despite these repeated
complaints, Mr. Lewis “wasn’t able
to get any help.”116
Like the other prisoners in OPP, Mr.
Lewis spent days in the jail after
Katrina struck, at times wading in
chest-deep water for 8-9 hours at

44

“... how it happened, who was with him when he died.

Did he suffer?

We don’t know any of these

things.” Nearly one year after the storm, Mr. Lewis’ family
is still working to recover his body from Angola.

a time.117When he was finally evacuated from the building, having
received no food or water for several days, he was placed on the
Broad Street Overpass.118 Mr.
Lewis was transported to Hunt
Correctional Center, where he was
placed on a field with thousands of
other OPP evacuees, and left
exposed to the late summer
Louisiana heat and sun. Guards
delivered food to the evacuees by
throwing it over a fence.119 Mr.
Lewis had no opportunity to wash
off or change clothing, despite the
fact that he, like all of the other
inmates, had spent hours or days
in the same highly caustic and
contaminated water that had
stripped paint off of cars abandoned in New Orleans.120

New Orleans.”121 At some point
during the next two weeks, Mr.
Lewis’s condition deteriorated. He
was admitted to E.A. Conway Hospital in Monroe, Louisiana on September 14, and died three days
later.122 According to his death certificate, complications with his
pacemaker-defibrillator played a
role in his death.123 “From what I
saw of Mr. Lewis prior to the storm
Katrina,” writes one prisoner held in
Unit B-1 with Mr. Lewis, “he looked
to be in very poor health. Also, if he
was receiving the same level of
medical treatment I was receiving
it’s no wonder why he expired.”124
According to a spokesperson for
the state DOC, officials unsuccessfully attempted to contact Mr.
Lewis’s family to inform them of his

On or about August 31, Mr. Lewis
was transferred to Winn Correctional Center. According to his cellmate, Mr. Lewis complained to the

death.125 Despite the fact that a
temporary morgue for hurricane
victims had been established in St.
Gabriel, LA, the Warden of Winn

deputies there about his chest
pains. The only response he got
was: “Fuck you nigger, we’re not
doing shit for you niggers from

Correctional Center ultimately
decided that Mr. Lewis should be
buried. Mr. Lewis’s body was
transported to Lookout Point No.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

2, a cemetery on the grounds of
the Louisiana State Penitentiary at
Angola for unclaimed prisoner
remains.126
One month after Mr. Lewis’s death,
the chaplain from Winn Correctional Center finally notified Sandra
Thompson, Mr. Lewis’s sister, of
the death. The chaplain explained
that although it was not yet certain,
it was believed that a prisoner who
had died and been buried in
Angola was Mr. Lewis. Not wanting
to alarm other family members,
Ms. Thompson kept the chaplain’s
news to herself for several days.
According to Ms. Thompson, “It
was even worse because I didn’t
know for sure. Eventually, I broke
down and told my younger sister,
and she was able to confirm it. She
told the rest of the family.”127
Although the DOC spokesperson
maintains that Mr. Lewis’s burial
was accompanied by “a very dignified service,” the funeral director
who is required to appear at such
services had no recollection of it.128
Denise Lewis Henry, another sister
of Mr. Lewis, “wonders all the time
what happened, how it happened,
who was with him when he died.
Did he suffer? We don’t know any
of these things.”129 Nearly one year
after the storm, Mr. Lewis’s family is
still working to recover his body
from Angola. According to Ms.
Thompson, “We need to get him
back home where he belongs.”130

■

H.

Violence Breaks Out Between Panicked
Prisoners

Tensions began to rise among the prisoners as conditions
inside the prison buildings deteriorated and deputies abandoned their posts. One man in Templeman II reports that he
was evacuated on Wednesday morning: “Throughout my
confinement during Hurricane Katrina I watched many
inmates fight each other. There were no safety measures
taken to insure my or other inmates well-being.”131 One
female deputy in HOD agrees: “I couldn’t do a proper security check to make sure everyone was alright because I was
the only one on the floor. If I was to go down the floor something could have happened to me.”132
In HOD, many deputies were unwilling to monitor prisoners because they were asked to work their floors without
any backup. One deputy states:

They had deputies sitting in the dark with the
inmates. The associate warden was going to the
doors and locked them in with the inmates so they
wouldn’t leave off of their floors. If some inmates
escaped. . . . Who’s to say they can’t get out of those
gates because they know how to pop them. 120
inmates per floor and one deputy. Let’s say they
decided to attack a guard, there are female guards
too. No radios or ways to call for help. People were
so scared.”
133

Deputy Reed also recalls Associate Warden Pittman
locking the door behind deputies when they reported to duty
on a floor. “I don’t know why they did this, but the Associate
Warden Bonita Pittman locked us on those floors with the
inmates and no way to get out. I was trapped for the entire
12-hour shift! After my shift was over, they’d send someone
to my floor with a key to unlock me.”134
In the Templeman III gymnasium, the water was rising,
the power was out, and hundreds of St. Bernard Parish prisoners were thrown together in a single room. One prisoner,
held on a probation violation charge, “couldn’t belive they put
me in the same room with murderes arson rapist armed robbers and so on i was locked in a large room having to defend
my self if i hade to thank god I didnt have to fight I stayed in
one corner of the room for thirty five hours in that time I witnessed nine fights because there was no police at there
post.”135 Another prisoner writes: “As soon the water started
soaking the floors, mattresses started getting wet, and the
water was now floating, tention was on edge, and before anybody could say anything, fights starts, with one fight here,
one there, 2 on 1, swollen faces, buss lips.”136
Female prisoners began fighting in the Conchetta building,
where overcrowding grew worse once the St. Bernard women
were added to the OPP population, and the first floor prisoners
were evacuated to the second floor. Several prisoners recount a
single incident when a woman named Pearl Cornelia Bland
was jumped by a group of other women. Ms. Bland writes that
when other prisoners asked the deputies to stop the fight, they
shut the door and said “let them kick her ass.”137

45

PEARL CORNELIA BLAND
The deputy’s didn’t assault me personnal, but

they

didn’t help stop the assault that the
lady’s did on me.

earl Cornelia Bland should
not have been in OPP at the
time of the storm. Ms. Bland was
arrested in August 2005 on a
charge of possessing prohibited
drug paraphernalia. At her
arraignment on August 11, Ms.
Bland pled guilty as charged; the
judge ordered that she be
released on August 12 for place-

P

ment in the intensive drug rehabilitation program at Hope House.
Recognizing that Ms. Bland was
indigent, the judge waived fines
and fees in her case.
On August 12, Ms. Bland was
not released to Hope House.
Instead, OPP continued to hold
Ms. Bland because she owed
$398 in fines and fees from an
old conviction. Under normal circumstances, Ms. Bland may
have been taken to court in order
to have her outstanding fines and

46

Louisiana. She recounted the
beating that she suffered in OPP,

fees waived due to her inability to
pay. In fact, Ms. Bland was taken
to court on August 23, and was
rescheduled for a September 20
status hearing on her case.
When Hurricane Katrina hit
New Orleans, Pearl Bland was
still in OPP, housed on the 3rd
Floor of Conchetta. Ms. Bland
writes that on August 29, the
day the storm hit:
The deputy’s didn’t assault me
personnal, but they didn’t help
stop the assault that the lady’s did
on me. When the lady . . . hit me in
the face 7 to 8 other girls started
hitting me from the back. . . .The
deputy’s shut the door when [three
other inmates] went to the door to

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

keep asking them to help me they
said “let them kick her ass” and
shut the door back and locked it.
Several other lady’s kept asking
the deputy’s . . . to please help her.
And they just hunched their shoulders and watched. A yank which is
a prisoner for them started pulling
them off me and dragged me to
the door and the deputy’s still didnt
want to open the door.138
When Ms. Bland was evacuated
to Angola, her “right eye was
black and closed,” and the right
side of her jaw was “very very
swollen.” 139
In June 2006, Ms. Bland contacted the ACLU from a correctional center in Avoyelles Parish,

and also indicated that she had
not yet been to Court, and had
been unable to locate any loved
ones. The ACLU notified a local
attorney with the Tulane Law
Clinic, who confirmed that Ms.
Bland had spent more than ten
months in jail for her failure to
pay $398 in outstanding fines
and fees. On June 28, 2006,
Katherine Mattes of the Tulane
Law Clinic appeared in court on
Ms. Bland’s behalf and obtained
a release order. Ms. Bland herself
was not present when this happened, because she had not
been transported to New Orleans
in order to appear in court—this
was the fourth court hearing in ten
days that she missed because her
custodians had failed to return
her to New Orleans.140 ■

Some of the worst reports of fighting come from Old Parish
Prison. One prisoner assigned to Unit C-4 explains that the
problems in his unit began when deputies transferred the
prisoners from Unit C-3 into Unit C-4:

After the transfer there were about 48 to 56 inmates
located in one cell designed for 21 inmates. There
was no water, food, or air. Inmates began to be upset
setting fires to plastic or whatever they could find to
burn through the double plated glass to allow some
type of air to circulate on the floor due to the fact that
the door were locked we could not breathe for the
smoke
[I]nmates had reached a level of frustration at that
point they began to destroy the cell breaking through
the chicken wire just to be able to move around, ripping the light fixtures from the ceiling to attempt to
break windows and with the stress level being so high
fights began to break out and the material that was
ripped from the cell were at this time weapons.
141

A second prisoner from Unit C-4 explains that some people
from C-4 had enemies in C-3, which is why they were held in
separate units. Once they were combined:

[i]nmates began to fight with each other. Inmates
began to tear the tier apart, broke through chicken
wires and used the items such as pipes broken from
the tier to fight with. I tried to stop one fight and was
hit in the head with a pipe. It left damage to my head
where I still fill pain today and my hair has not grew
back yet in that spot. I didn’t recieve medication or
no type of help in Orleans Parish Prison but was
given Tylenol at Rapides Parish which still to this date
does not work. I still have constant head pains and
head aches.
142

Even before the hurricane, OPP was one of the top five prisons in the nation for substantiated reports of sexual violence.143 According to one deputy, before the storm “[t]here
was always somebody getting raped and abused . . . especially
on the juvenile floor [of the House of Detention] where I
worked.”144 Several prisoners report that the prisoner-onprisoner violence in Old Parish Prison included sexual
assaults. “Some inmates were being forced to perform sexual
acts. No way to call for help.”145
I.

We were in the Templeman III building without
power, food, or water for at least three days. It was
total chaos inside the building. Everyone that was
not locked in a cell searched the dark building for
food. We had to set fires just to be able to see. The
building had no air so windows were broken out for
ventilation. (Still no staff.) We tried to get the
attention of people outside by waving sheets outside
the window, but staff members just looked and did
nothing.
147

In fact, deputies instructed prisoners to break windows so
they could get fresh air. Shortly after the storm, Deputy Chief
William Short stated that “[t]he inmates did break out windows. . . . In some cases, our staff helped them. If you didn’t
148
break the windows, you didn’t breathe.”
Many of the prisoners began to believe that they had
been abandoned. One man in Old Parish Prison writes: “We
were yelling for the deputies, and was not getting any respond
back at all, at that time we realized that they (deputies) were
not out there meaning on the floor. That’s when everyone
begin to ‘panic.’”149 Another prisoner held in a dormitory in
Templeman I reports:

All through the time of this you heard screams of terror, cries for help and no one was answered. . . .
[M]ost of us was on meds, and did’nt recieve them. I
myself went without my asthma pump and struggling
with my breathing severely, being not able to talk and
feeling weak. There was smoke everywhere and all
you heard all night and early the next day was gunshots. I really felt inside like I was about to die and
was left there to die!!
150

Prisoners in some buildings began to look for ways out of the
flooded buildings. As water began to fill the first-floor Templeman III gymnasium on Monday evening, the St. Bernard
Parish prisoners were growing increasingly worried. “[T]he
night the Hurricane hit, the gym started filling up with water,
they stopped feeding us, that evening before we had our last
meal, the water got up to our waist for about a day.”151

Prisoners Attempt to Escape Increasingly
Dangerous Conditions

Without power, the prison’s buildings were plunged into darkness. In Old Parish Prison, “[y]ou couldn’t see your hand in
front of your face!”146 Prisoners began to set fire to milk cartons, sheets, towels, and other items just so they could see.

47

QUANTONIO WILLIAMS

n Saturday, August 27,
2005, I was arrested and
charged with possession of marijuana. I was taken to the Orleans
Parish Prison (OPP). At the time of
my arrest I had with me approximately $700.00. That money disappeared and has never been

O

returned to me.
When I was first imprisoned at
OPP, I was imprisoned on the A
side of a building that I think was
Templeman I. After I had been
there a couple of days, the water
started rising in the building. When
it reached approximately 2 1/2 feet,
the detainees were locked down
and the corrections officers left.
After the staff left, one detainee
was able to open his cell door
because he had fixed his door so
that it would not lock. He got
through a broken window to the
control area and used the controls
to open all the cells in the unit.
Because the cell doors were now
unlocked, everyone was able to go
to the second level of the tier, out
of the water.
The detainees went to a second
area in OPP and tried to help other
detainees get out of their cells.
They were able to get some of the
cell doors open so that these
detainees could move to the second tier in that area, but they were
not able to open the doors for all of
the other detainees.
Then the correctional officers came
back and moved us to Templeman
III. We were put into a basketball

Eventually someone suggested
using the rim of the basketball
hoop as a tool to get out of building to try to be able to breathe and
get food and water. It took about
twelve hours of various detainees
working to try to make a hole out of
the building. Eventually the
detainees managed to create a
hole that was barely large enough
for some of the smaller prisoners to
wiggle through. Some of the
detainees started to escape.
About thirty minutes after people
started to escape, I heard a shot.
Other detainees told me that a
detainee had been shot, but I did
not see it. Detainees told the staff
that we couldn’t breathe, and that
we needed food and water. The
staff went away.
Some people tried to escape
again. After people would start to
escape again, the staff would
come back outside. At first, staff
tried to keep people from using the
hole but eventually staff told us that
if we could get out the hole we
could do so, and then they would
take custody of us. People tied
sheets together to go down the
wall. Eventually the sheets broke. I
believe that some people who got
out this way got away, and some
were arrested.

in the basketball court, on the second floor, we had no access to
water. The staff all left again.

All told, I was on the basketball
court for two days without food,
and most of the time without water.
Eventually the corrections officers
said that they were coming in to
get us. When we were told that the
correctional officers were coming

After about a day and a half, someone broke glass to get access to a

in to take custody of us, we were
afraid because we expected them
to beat us, based on the reputation

court. There was no plumbing,
electricity or air circulation available
at this location. When we were first

48

water fountain. We had no food
during this entire period and everyone was hungry. People wrote
signs and put them in the windows
asking for help.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

Eventually the detainees managed to create a hole that
was barely large enough for some of the smaller prisones to
wiggle through.

Some of the detainees

started to escape.
of the OPP corrections officers. We
lay down on the floor on our stomachs to try to give them no excuse
to beat us. There was a lot a staff
from other jails, and as it turned
out, we did not get beaten.
We were then escorted to the first
floor, where we spent about an
hour. The floodwater on the first
floor was almost up to my neck.
Around 7:00 a.m. I was taken out
of Templeman III to an overpass.
On the overpass we were put in
rows. The rows in front had floodwater coming up to them. The staff
who took us told us that we would
be given food and water. Although
we saw lots of food and bottled
water around, we were not given
any. We saw the correctional officers drinking the water.
The sun was bearing down on us,
and it was extremely hot. Three
boats were taking ten men at a
time from the overpass. They took
people from the front row. It took a
long time to get to the front row,
and lots of people were passing
out in the sun. The only way we
could keep from burning up was to
wet our shirts in the floodwater. We
sat out in the direct sun all day
without food or water.
Eventually I was so desperate that I
decided to act as if I had passed
out, thinking that this would help
me move up in the line. I was taken
to the front, but all the people who
had passed out were just left out in

the sun to the side, and not transported. One man in this section
started acting out, and the correctional officer just sprayed all the
people in the area, including me. I
got mace all over my back. Eventually I got back in line.
At 5:00 p.m. the boats stopped
coming. We were told that we
would have to go down from the
overpass and climb down scaffolding to the Interstate. We were told
that once we got to the Interstate
we would get some food and
water. We climbed down the scaffolding around 3:00 a.m.
When we got down to Interstate
10, we were handcuffed in pairs
and we were each given one small
paper cup of water but no food. I
saw cases and cases of water and
boxes of food there. The Interstate
was covered with ants, and there
was a lot of debris because it
looked as if at some earlier point
food and water had been distributed to someone. The guy I was
cuffed to and I asked a corrections
officer if we could eat an apple we
found on the ground and he gave
us permission. We each ate half.
We asked for more water. The officer said that he would check. He
later told us that he was not
allowed to give us water.
We were eventually put on buses
and I fell asleep. We were taken to
Hunt Correctional Center. When
we get there the warden greeted
us by saying so you are the people

who were left to die. We were
promised tents, food, and water.
We were told that we would stay
outside a day or two and live in
tents. We were given salami sandwiches the first day.
That night we were taken to a football field. There were thousands of
displaced detainees and prisoners
on that field. I saw a large number
of home-made knives, and people
making more knives.
On the football field we were sleeping on the grass. There was a pipe
that we used for drinking water, but
had no toilets or way to wash up.
There was no security on the football field; staff did not interfere with
anything that was going on as long
as people did not try to get out of
the area. I witnessed stabbings.
On the last of the four days we
were held there we were given
sandwiches. Staff first planned to
throw the sandwiches over the wall
to us, but eventually they made
everyone line up and go through
the line to a controlled area to get a
sandwich. During this period,
buses came to remove prisoners
from the area. There was a lot of
confusion. I was in line attempting
to get on a bus but I never got to
the front of the line. During this
period I saw two people wrapped
in blankets on the field who were
not moving during the several
hours that I saw them. I assume
that these people were dead.
I estimate that the population got
down to 800-1000 people. Then
the warden decided to take us into
the housing area of the facility. We
were told that we would get mattresses and a shower. We were
stripped and taken to the housing
area at Hunt. While we were naked
staff sprayed us with a fire hose to
try to make us not so dirty. We
were brought to an outside visiting

area, which had a concrete floor.
We were given sandwiches, a
toothbrush and toothpaste. We
stayed there that night with no
bedding or showers.
The next day we were taken to a
gymnasium where we spent the
night without any bedding. The following day we were taken to a dormitory. There was a water fountain
and we got sandwiches. Eventually
we started getting cafeteria food.

According to one Templeman III deputy, three St. Bernard
Parish prisoners managed to climb through the ceiling of the
gymnasium at around 8 p.m. Monday evening. “I’m not sure
how that occurred. I was on duty at the time, and I assisted
St. Bernard and several of our deputies in reacquiring those
inmates. When they got on the roof, they didn’t know how bad
it got outside, so they really didn’t have any place else to go.”1
One St. Bernard Parish prisoner who was in the gym at
the time reports: “People were escaping though a side door,
getting on the roof of the gym, and going from their. A few
more were on top the roof when we heard police on the roof
to ‘saying put your hand up’ then a couple of shots.”153
Another states: “People started escaping out of the gym
about 4 people the caught a couple of them and maced them
and hit them with their guns and threw them back in the gym
with us and they told us if anybody else tried to escape they
would come back in bodybags.”154

At first we were told that the
phones were down, although we
could hear phones ringing in the
institution. We were forbidden to
write letters. When I was housed in
the dormitory, while we were outside for recreation, I saw a man
stabbed and left unconscious.
During the entire recreation period,
he was just lying on the ground
unconscious. I never saw him
again after I went inside back to the
dormitory.
Eventually we were allowed to
stand in line for one two-minute call
after 10:00 p.m. I was very fortunate because I was able to reach
my wife. After a couple of days she
was able to get through the procedure to get me released on a $500
bond. I was released on September 22, 2005.
I suffer from mild congestive heart
failure and asthma. On the street I
use my asthma pump twice a day.
After I got to the dormitory I filled
out a sick call slip to try to get my
asthma pump and medication for
my heart condition. I was never
seen in response to my first sick
call slip. Staff told me to fill out
another sick call slip. I filled out a
slip and a nurse saw me two days
before I left. She said she would
check to see if staff wanted to
order my medications. I never got
my medication.152 ■

49

L EROY P. GA RD NER, III

It was breezy and I was cold and wet. I remember looking
around and seeing lots of people on the ground, but it wasn’t until

the next morning that I saw

thousands of us and wondered
what was going on. I looked
around and saw water for miles
n Saturday evening before
the storm, there were rumors
at St. Bernard Parish Prison that
we might get moved. Deputies
said buses were outside, waiting to
transfer us. News reports were
saying it looked bad, but that there
was a chance the storm might
turn. On Saturday evening, Sunday morning it got serious. At
around 7 or 8am, deputies came
running on our dorm saying that
we should grab nothing but a
blanket and sheet. They put plastic
handcuffs and leg shackles on us
and moved us out to the buses.
By the buses we saw different
guys from different tiers, and we
were talking, thinking nothing was
going to happen. When we got out
to St. Bernard Highway we saw
people still lingering, and in Orleans
Parish we saw a few more people.

smooth, and the lights stayed on.
During feed up, the St. Bernard
and Orleans Parish deputies
would be on a stage in the gym
and OPP Yanks would feed us
when we lined up. The next morning it was raining and the rain was
running down the insides of the
walls. We managed to get break-

We were yelling at people on the
street. It looked like rain, and I wondered where we were going.

yard outside, and they managed
to kick the door open. When the
water was rising, and the deputies
had left, inmates started fighting
each other. The lights were off and
people were fighting everyone.

O

When I saw OPP, people started
talking about whether we were
going to go to CCC or HOD, the
two tall buildings. Some people
on the bus said that during previous storms they had gone to high
up floors in HOD. Instead they
took us into the Templeman buildings and put us in the gym. It was
raining a bit, but the atmosphere
was still light because we weren’t
thinking about the seriousness of
the situation.
They fed us lunch and then supper. The rest of the day went

50

fast, but after that the Yanks and
the deputies were out of there. It
was raining hard, the wind was
strong, and we saw the roof bending. More water was running down
the walls, and then the water
started rising and rising. The lights
also went out.
Different guys kept going back and
forth to the door to ask about the
lights and whether we were going
to be moved. At one point, someone noticed a door leading to the

One inmate who was in for murder
and another guy beat one inmate
real bad—they pulverized him.
There were some other fights, but
in the meantime guy charged with
murder slipped out the door with
another inmate. They must have
climbed up onto the roof using a
drainage pipe or something and ran
across the roof until they escaped.
The guy charged with murder was
only captured after he supposedly
murdered someone else.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

around.
Another group tried to escape
after that, and we heard a loud
Boom! A St. Bernard Parish lieutenant threw an inmate through
the metal or tin roof. His hand was
cut really bad from the fall and now
it is disfigured. The Lieutenant
came in after that and did a roll call
to see who was gone. Another guy
who had tried to escape said he
got all the way to the courthouse
steps before he was caught. I
don’t know if that was true, but he
showed us bruises from where he
was shot with beanbag guns.
By that point I had already had two
seizures. One happened right after
breakfast—I had a seizure and an
OPP nurse came and others who
were on my tier at St. Bernard told
her I needed Dilantin and she told
me to take two doses because my
levels were really off. When you
have a seizure, every muscle and
bone—everything—is sore. Your
body is like it’s fighting itself. You
can’t stop someone from having a
seizure. Once it starts it’s got to run
its course.
By Monday night I still hadn’t
eaten. St. Bernard deputies all day
were saying that food was coming.
At night they came in with racks of
bread and started handing out
three slices per person. They must
have had 100 loaves of bread or

something. People started grabbing at the bread.
Early the next morning, deputies
came in and said they’d get us out
of the water; it was up to my stomach at that point. They said they’d
bring us somewhere better. When
we got into the hallway, the water
started getting higher—up to my
chest. They led us to a door and I
saw we were still on the bottom
level, by F Side. The water was
freezing cold and had a stench to
it. They told us to go in the room,
and we went up the steps to the
upper level. We ended up with 7-9
people per two-man cell. Two OPP
guys were still locked in a cell
upstairs. After a while, people
started finding things that had
been left in the cells by the OPP
inmates who had been moved:
cigarettes, food, dry clothes. Going
into the next day, people started to
make candles out of Vaseline.
Smoke was everywhere—no oxygen. There was no way to breathe,
and I caught another seizure. I also
have asthma, so I wasn’t doing
well. Another St. Bernard inmate
stayed by my side and helped me
through that third seizure. At one
point, juveniles from Orleans Parish
came in with a key—I don’t know
where they got that from. They
came into our area and were raiding the guards’ booth with the key

they had. The deputies had food,
cigarettes. I didn’t go down, but
the inmate who was watching over
me brought back some food.
Someone found a huge floor fan
with big blades and they dismantled it to make a big weapon. They
used the pieces from the fan to
break all of the windows out of the
tier and make a hole in the wall on
the upper level. Some people tried
to jump out the hole, but deputies
on the outside were shooting
warning shots, telling them to get
back in there. Some inmates were
yelling to people on the Overpass.
We were in F Side from early, early
Tuesday morning to Wednesday
night/early early Thursday morning.
I think SID came to get us, barking
orders. I had a seizure on the steps
and another inmate carried me
through the water to the boats.
When I got to the bridge, nurses
came to see me and told me they
had no meds and I should lay
down and relax. It was breezy and I
was cold and wet. I remember
looking around and seeing lots of
people on the ground, but it wasn’t
until the next morning that I saw
thousands of us and wondered
what was going on. I looked
around and saw water for miles
around. At one point, the guys
whose tier we had been on saw
we were wearing their tennis shoes
and everything, so they surrounded us and wanted their stuff
back. SID stopped that. Later, St.
Bernard deputies told us we could

stand and stretch, but when we
did SID told us to sit down. When
they asked who told us we could
stretch, one of our Corporals said
he had told us to stretch. The SID
officer showed no respect to him
and said you don’t run anything
out here—don’t do anything until
we tell you to.
I was taken by boat to the Interstate, where it was dry, and
boarded a bus to Hunt. At Hunt I
was placed in a small yard, so I
never went to the big yard. I caught
a seizure in the yard at Hunt on Friday evening. They took me to the
infirmary and gave me Dilantin
medication and four breathing
treatments. Breathing treatments
are when they pour Albuterol in liquid form into a mouthpiece and
you inhale.
That night they put me on a bus to
Claiborne Parish, where I had
another seizure in the lobby. I was
so stressed—I didn’t know where
we were, how my family was. At
Claiborne they increased my Dilantin medication, but I stayed
stressed because they treated us
pretty bad at Claiborne. I’ve never
been through nothing like that in
my life and I pray I don’t have to
again. Now I’m in jail hoping my
lawyer will get me credit for time
served. I have a 22-year old son
and a 16-year old son I haven’t
seen since the storm. My 15-year
old girl is running for class president. I can’t live like this.156 ■

The CCC building houses prisoners who participate in
OPP’s rehabilitation programs, such as the Francois Alternative Center at New Orleans, the About Face Boot Camp
Program, and the Blue Walters Substance Abuse Treatment
Program. CCC prisoners report that they were left in locked
cells and locked dorms. According to the former Medical
Supply Officer, who was in CCC throughout the storm: “It
was terrifying and he [Sheriff Gusman] absolutely put our
lives in danger. . . . The inmates were rioting, burning, busting
down walls. They were angry and mad. We had no idea if
they would take a hostage. We didn’t know what was going to
happen.”157 Medical Director R. Demaree Inglese told one
reporter that the prisoners in the CCC building “were hardcore people . . . . Some of them were federal inmates, rapists
and murderers.”158
In fact, many of the federal prisoners were actually
immigration detainees, who were not charged with any crime
at all. According to the Sheriff’s own data, none of the prisoners housed in the CCC building were charged with rape, and
only one prisoner out of more than 700 housed there was
charged with murder. Rather, hundreds of the people in
CCC during the storm were in on minor charges—including
technical parole violations—and were participating voluntarily in the jail’s rehabilitation programs in an effort to beat a
drug addiction or obtain a G.E.D. What Dr. Inglese took to
be rioting by dangerous and violent prisoners was more their
desperate efforts to escape increasingly hazardous conditions
inside the jail.
Left unsupervised, some of the CCC prisoners were able
to open their cells and free others. “If it wasn’t for inmates
somehow getting my cell open I probably would have died.”159
One prisoner sentenced to the About Face Boot Camp reports:

Our building lost power the night the hurricane
came. Me and my cellmates were lock in the cell for
two days with no food. The deputies left the night of
the hurricane and never came back. Other inmates
had to get us out of the cell. When we did get out of
the cell some inmates were knocking a hole in the
wall so we could get out to see what was going on.
When we got out we found out that the other domes
in the building were going through the same thing.
Inmates all over the hole building were locked in
there cells and the ones that were out where helping
get them out. They also didn’t have any food. In one
dome you could see inmates escaping they were jumping out of windows in Templeman. They were getting
shot at but we couldn’t see who was shoting at them.
160

On the third floor of CCC, prisoners broke through a window and used the metal window screen as a ramp to get
down to the roof of the second floor of the building. Darnell
Smith, sentenced to the About Face Boot Camp, describes
what happened:

51

Sunday night, August 28, all the power went out.
The deputies were nowhere to be found. We had to
break out of our cells. About 60 inmates walking
around the tier, with no running water, no food, no
electricity, & horrible living conditions. After 3 days
of this, we decided to try & get out ourselves fearing
we were left for dead. Wednesday morning we took a
metal bar out of the ceiling, and used as a battling
ram to break through the walls until we were out in
the area where the elevators were. Once in this area
we noticed that inmates on other surronding tiers
had started to do the same thing, fearing the worst. A
few deputies showed up peering threw locked doors,
that we could not get through, and told us to go back
to our tiers. When we refused they started to point
guns and threatened to shoot, if we did not comply.
We located a long thin window overlooking Gravier
St. We started to break the brick around the window.
We continued until the window was loose enough for
us to pull out of it’s casing. Once we had the window
removed, we started to jump out onto a patio roof
over the main entrance of the C.C.C. building. We
looked down and spotted a few deputies just sitting
on the steps of the main entrance. We cried out for
help from them. Once they saw us, they started to
point their guns up at us thinking we were trying to
escape, when actually we just wanted help. We
had’nt eaten anything or drank anything since Sunday evening, and it had started to take effect on us.
We pleaded with the deputies for help. They told us
that boats were on the way to bring us to safety, and
once the boats got there we would have to return to
our tiers in order to be evacuated. In the meantime
we sat on the patio roof, trying to suck up all the fresh
air we could, before the boats arrived and we would
have to go back inside this horrible building, and
breath that toxic air again.
161

One deputy from Templeman III made his way to the CCC
building days after the storm. He reports that the prisoners in
CCC took over the building “because all the guards were
downstairs.” 162 When asked what the guards were doing
downstairs, he replied, “good question.”163
In several buildings, prisoners tied bed sheets together to
lower themselves out of broken windows so that they could
jump to safety in the water below. One prisoner in Templeman III writes that after he suffered an asthma attack, other
prisoners carried him to a hole in the wall and “told me to go
through it & climb down a rope that they made from bed
sheets that led from 3 stories high in tha air to ground in tha
flood water once I climb down tha rope. Another inmate was
waiting down there for me to help me they told him I was to

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AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

weak to do anything so he told me hold on to his back while
he dog paddle through tha high flood water to safety.”164 One
juvenile who was being housed in Templeman III writes:
“[S]ome inmates were broking through the walls jumping
from the third floor to the water. So of them could not even
swim but that was their alone choice. As soon as they hit the
water the deputies begin to shot at them.”165 Deputy Reed
was on the Mezzanine level of HOD, where he was stationed
to watch for escapes. Deputy Reed describes “people getting
shot by snipers around the jail. It looked like people were getting picked off. You see somebody fall. . . . It seemed unreal. I
don’t know if they were getting shot with live rounds or what;
they were falling in the water and that was enough for me to
see right there.”166 One deputy in Templeman III reports that
he swam to CCC, but chose to go no further out of fear of
being shot by prison officials on the roof of HOD.167
Many prisoners and deputies report seeing prisoners
hanging from the rolls of razor wire lining the fences that surround the facility. According to Ace Martin, a Templeman
III prisoner: “One guy jumped out of the hole and they shot
him. . . . He fell on a barbed-wire fence. They picked him up
in a boat and told us to stay in the hole or we’d be shot.”168
One juvenile in South White Street states that he saw an
escaping prisoner get “caugth on the bob wire, and all his
muscle was out on his arm, and you know he did not get any
kind of medical assitants.”169 Luis Reyes, a Deputy at CCC,
reports that prisoners in a nearby building were “jumping out
of the windows onto the razor wire and they were hanging
there until we could get to them.”170 Another deputy recalls
that the man “was yelling he needed a doctor. I can’t recall
which ranking officer said we can’t get you a fucking doctor
right now. You got to wait till we finish. We couldn’t touch
him without further hurting him. Don’t know what happened to him.”171 One deputy saw several of the men who had
jumped and landed on the razor wire surrounding the
perimeter of Central Lock-Up:

They were standing against a wall in the carport area
of Central Lock-Up. They were in need of medical
attention—there were some severe lacerations on
them from the razor wire. One of them had a deep
laceration under his right arm and on the side of his
left eye as well as on his chest. Another had a laceration on his left shoulder blade and on his right bicep.
I recognized these inmates as being in my building,
but I do not remember what tier they came off of.
172

In some of the buildings, corrections staff ordered prisoners
to jump into the water. One deputy in HOD recalls seeing
prisoners from the Templeman I building lowering themselves onto a roof using blankets that they had tied together.
“At night [staff members] were ordering inmates to jump into
the water, and they were using flashlights to pick them up.”173
Prisoners also hung signs outside of windows and set signal fires in order to get help. Writing several weeks after the
storm had passed, one local reporter notes, “[n]ext to one
smashed jail cell window, taped to the outside of the building,
is a sign scrawled by an inmate, ‘We Need Help.’”174 One pris-

oner writes that when he saw a news helicopter several days
after the storm, he and another prisoner hung a sign saying
“HELP NO FOOD DYING.”175 Another prisoner writes
that he wrote a sign stating, “Help us.”176
J.

Officers Use Force to Contain Prisoners
Until the Evacuation

Once OPP fell into disorder, it became much more difficult
for the dwindling security staff to regain the control they
needed to move prisoners to different parts of the buildings.
Many of the deputies who remained on post did not have the
weapons, ammunition, and other necessary equipment they

needed to maintain order. Some improvised, throwing hot
water balloons at prisoners in order to keep them in their
cells.177 According to Dr. Inglese, OPP’s medical director, one
deputy brandished a curling iron to keep prisoners at the CCC
at bay. 178
In Templeman III, deputies decided on Monday evening to
move the St. Bernard Parish prisoners out of the gymnasium
and into F-side. They also decided to move some, though not
all, of the men housed in the first-floor tiers. The Special Investigations Division (“SID”) was called in to help with the move.
SID is the Sheriff’s elite anti-riot force. They arrived with shotguns loaded with beanbags, pepper spray (or mace) and batons.

BEANBAG GUNS, TASERS, AND PEPPER SPRAY: “Less Lethal,” But Not “Non-Lethal”
Police officers and correctional officers are increasingly using three types of less lethal weapons to carry out their
duties: projectile weapons, electric stun devices (e.g., Tasers), and chemical agents. These weapons are
designed to apply less than deadly force, but three main problems are associated with their use.
1. Less lethal weapons are being misused to stop non-threatening behavior and as shortcuts for
non-dangerous pursuits. Although the weapons were designed as an alternative to deadly force, they are
being used in situations where deadly force would never even be contemplated. For instance, such weapons
have been used on unarmed children as well as individuals who are already restrained or in custody.179
2. Less lethal weapons cause serious injuries, and their use has been associated with deaths
that have not been adequately studied. Projectile weapons such as beanbag guns and rubber bullets
are designed to cause pain and incapacitation without penetrating the body, but they have been the cause
of penetrating traumatic injuries. Such weapons have caused serious injuries, including life-threatening cardiac injuries and fatalities.
Electric stun devices include various guns, belts, and shields. Stun guns fire a 50,000 volt-charged barbed
projectile, connected to the gun by a long length of wire, causing involuntary muscle contraction and painful
shock sensations. Harms caused by these devices include injuries from the barbs as well as falls or other
injuries due to loss of muscle control. The most serious injuries result from the electrical discharge, and have
included spontaneous miscarriages,180 testicular torsion and sterility, as well as a number of injuries and
deaths from cardiac injury, including ventricular fibrillation. Over 150 people have died in the U.S. after being
shocked with a Taser since June 2001,181 and in June 2006 the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it
is reviewing the deaths of up to 180 people who were subdued with electric stun devices.182
Chemical agents such as tear gas, mace, and pepper spray are used on crowds as well as individuals. They
act on nerve endings, causing pain and burning. The most common injuries from pepper spray include gagging and shortness of breath and eye injuries, including corneal abrasions. Amnesty International reports
that more than 100 people in the United States have died after being pepper-sprayed.183
3. Less lethal weapons are being used in a racially discriminatory manner. Preliminary studies
point to disproportionate use of less lethal weapons against persons of color.184 This preliminary data,
although incomplete, are consistent with findings concerning the disparate application of deadly force by
race, as well racial profiling in traffic and pedestrian stops and searches.

53

During the transfer, one deputy explains:

Inmates wanted food, water. They wanted to go
home, some of them wanted to check on their families. . . . Pepper spray was used to subdue several
inmates. In a normal circumstance, I would have
said it was excessive, but under the circumstances we
were in I would say it was appropriate. If this was a
regular situation, not an emergency, we could have
taken more time to talk the situation down, but
under the situation we had to use the pepper spray to
get the inmates in order to transfer them to where we
needed to go.
185

He says that no prisoners were shot while he was present. 186
Many prisoners tell a different story about SID’s
involvement. One man reports: “Some inmates were shot at
by S.I.D. officers, they used beanbag shotguns. S.I.D. officers struck some inmates face as well. I was hit in the rib
area (3) three times as well. This occurred during the move
from F-1 to H-1.”187 Another prisoner in F-side reports that
SID:

came and handle 3 inmates really bad. They came
and told everybody get down on the knee’s and put
your hands behind your head. They slowly evacuted
us to higher ground. After they escorted us to higher
ground they then abuse certain inmates because
somebody had cursed them out and he had dreadlocks so whoever had said that they want to find out
who said it. They had guns. I dont know if the guns
were real, but when they first came in they shot the
gun to get order.
188

Late Monday night, some of the prisoners who were left on
the first floor at Templeman III began to break out of their
tier. One St. Bernard Parish prisoner moved from the flooded
gymnasium to the flooded F-side explains that deputies “had
the airlock in the hall shut so inmates burnt a hole through it
but the deputies were down the hall by the fence shooting
them with bean bags.”189
SID officers also used force against prisoners in other
OPP buildings. One man on the third floor of Templeman II
reports that when deputies and SID officers came to evacuate his floor on Tuesday, they assaulted and “shot inmates
with mace & bean bag guns.”190 Another man held on the
third floor recalls that on Monday, prisoners began yelling to
get the attention of the guards:

We simply want food & water. We want to know if
were going to be evacuated. Did our families make it
out??? S.I.D. goes to several dorms spraying mace
& shooting bean bag guns demanding silence. They
simply leave after terrorizing us & answer none of
our questions. It’s the only police presence we see
throughout the day.
191

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AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

am thirty-two years old, and I
worked as a deputy sheriff at the
Orleans Parish Prison from June
1998 until right after the storm.
Every year around storm season
there’s a possibility you might have
to go and stay in the jail. You bring
a change of clothes, your medications, and you’re not sure how long
you’re gonna be in there. We didn’t
expect anything serious to happen, because last time the hurricane never actually hit. My
supervisor told me that I had to
report to work the Sunday before
the storm. I think I was supposed to
be off Tuesday through Wednesday. My wife wanted me to quit and
evacuate with our family, but I
decided not to. She was upset that
I didn’t go to Georgia with them—
she had a feeling it would be differ-

you didn’t know water could come
in from. The first day of the storm
was alright—you’re looking out at
the rain and the water, it had to be
about two or three feet at the time.
But it was rising and rising even
after the rain stopped. That was
such a weird thing to see.

ent this time.

started to sink in: we’re trapped.

I went in to work because it’s like a
family there, and one less person
on staff can make a big difference—especially since I’m big,
strong, and experienced. I’m 6’7”
and was 500 pounds at the time,
so I knew my presence there
would make a difference. Also, I
worked with troubled inmates on
the psych ward in the House of
Detention, and I didn’t want to let
anyone else down by making
someone else take over for me
with those inmates. Even though I
knew I couldn’t evacuate, I never
considered bringing my family with
me into the jail. I don’t believe in
bringing my family there. I don’t
want them in that environment.

Once the power went out, deputies
started quitting right and left. They
didn’t leave the building of course,
but they just didn’t go back to work.
Women especially got scared once
the storm hit and the power went
out. We really didn’t have any problems with the inmates except that
they were upset because they didn’t know what was going on with
their families. They didn’t have TV or
radio, so they had no way to know
what was happening. It was tough
for them. I let them know what I
knew, which they really appreciated.

I

The first day I was there was pretty
much a normal day. It was raining. I
was assigned to the 10th Floor
(psych floor). At night, the storm
hit. I am in a huge brick building on
the 10th Floor, and the whole
building is swaying from side to
side. I was scared. The floors and
stairs got real slippery, and there
was water coming in from places

The next night, I really couldn’t
sleep. Phone lines were down, so
you couldn’t contact anyone outside the building. People’s cells
were going dead. We had these
two-way radios, but they could
only be used between people
inside the jail. We listened to the
radio and heard the levy had
broke. When it got light, I looked
outside and I saw the water was
up to the roof of my truck. It was a
horrible feeling. That’s when it

Some of the younger deputies didn’t know how to handle the inmates
and instead of telling them what
was going on, they yelled at them to
be quiet. Even though they’re in jail,
they are human beings. I am not pro
rights for inmates or anything, but
they didn’t know anything about
their families or anything, and they
deserved to know.
There was never any special training for us deputies about storm
preparation, emergency evacuation, nothing. We didn’t have fire

DEPUTY RENARD REED

Even though they’re in jail, they
are human beings. I am not pro rights for
inmates or anything, but they didn’t know anything about
their families or anything, and they deserved to know.

drills or any other emergency drills
that I can remember. Plus, the new
administration under Sheriff Marlin
Gusman was always cutting down
on spending, and they waited until
the last minute to get supplies for
the storm, so we ended up real
short on supplies. Back when I
started working as a deputy in ’98,
everything was abundant; you
never ran out of supplies for your
floor. There was always enough
toilet paper to go around. If you
needed a mop, you’d go into the
store closet and grab one. As time
went on, it was like you had to
jump through hoops just to get the
stuff you needed for your floor. All I
know is that the supplies were so
low during the storm that we ran
out of food, and I didn’t eat for
almost three days at one point in
time. I’m 32 years old—I was 31 at
the time—and I’m big enough to
survive. All I need is some water
and I’ll be okay. I am diabetic, so
there were some issues with me
not having food for so long, but I
wanted to leave what food we had
for the elderly, sick, and young, so I
just went without.
Usually there are at least two
deputies per floor. Since more people were working during the hurricane, before people started to quit
there were about three to four people per floor. After people started
quitting, there was only about one
deputy per floor. I don’t know why
they did this, but the Associate
Warden Bonita Pittman locked us

on those floors with the inmates
and no way to get out. I was
trapped for the entire 12-hour shift!
After my shift was over, they’d
send someone to my floor with a
key to unlock me.
At one point, I think it was the third
day I was in there, I was locked on
the 3rd Floor for my shift, and I
noticed that one inmate wasn’t
looking too well. I didn’t know what
was wrong with him specifically,
but I asked what was wrong with
him and he told me he had asthma
problems. I asked him if he had an
asthma pump, and he said yeah
but that it wasn’t working. I told
him to lie down, maybe it will pass.
He kept getting worse, so I tried to
beat on the back door to get help,
but no one heard. Eventually, I had
to knock out a window with a
broomstick to get help. Someone
downstairs happened to hear me,
and they called medical. There was
no running water or anything, and
they had to bring him oxygen to
save him. The doctors came and
saved his life.
The fourth day, I was sent to the
Mezzanine, which doesn’t have any
inmates. It’s got the heavy equipment like the generators. There’s an
exit to the roof there. I was supposed to go up there with a shotgun; in case anybody got out, I was
supposed to do what I was supposed to do. I had live rounds there
with me, but at the time there were
rubber bullets loaded in the gun.

No one from HOD escaped. You
could see that in the Templeman III
building, someone knocked a hole
in the wall and set the building on
fire. It was almost like the Third
World: people getting shot by
snipers around the jail. It looked like
people were getting picked off. You
see somebody fall. . . . It seemed
unreal. I don’t know if they were
getting shot with live rounds or
what; they were falling in the water
and that was enough for me to see
right there.
I heard rumors of riots going on at
the other jails, but I’m not sure if
it’s true or not. Not in the building
where I was at. Some people tried
to set fires, but those were put out
quickly. I was up on the Mezzanine for about 48 hours, mostly
alone. I couldn’t sleep. Adrenaline,
worrying, it kicked in. I hadn’t spoken to my wife since Sunday, didn’t know what happened to my
parents. I didn’t have any food.
The inmates were eating cheese
and cartons of milk. We melted
buckets of ice for water.
Some time after that, DOC came
down from around the state to
start evacuating the inmates. HOD
was the last building to get evacuated. We don’t have any heat or
A/C, so it’s naturally ventilated. The
other buildings were sealed shut
because they had A/C and heat,
but neither of those worked with
the power down. So, because we
had some kind of ventilation, we
were better off I guess, and our
inmates got evacuated last. Everyone had to come through the Mezzanine to get out because the
bottom floors were flooded. We
brought the inmates through the
roof. I saw every face as they came
out. The maximum-security inmates
were handcuffed, but everyone else
just had these plastic cuffs that
linked two people together. DOC
had people in full riot gear assisting

the evacuations, with stun guns,
tear gas, mace. Most of the prisoners were calm during the whole
thing; they were happy to be getting out. There were a few
instances where someone needed
to get stunned—I didn’t see it, but
you could hear it. A couple people
were shot with plastic bullets, and
a couple were tear gassed. But it
was mostly calm. It’s better to
show force than to have to use
force all the time.
After we got all the inmates out we
thought it would be okay. But after
they were gone, there were no
more boats. The sheriff was gone
too—he really wasn’t worried about
us deputies. Somebody had a twoway radio and called Charles Foti,
the old Sheriff. Foti got us boats
and shelters, while the current
Sheriff left us stranded. If it wasn’t
for the Coast Guard who dropped
cases of water and MREs. . . . I
never want to see another MRE in
my life! We finally all got out and
took buses to the airport.
I think, in a situation like this, it’s
more common sense than training
that gets you through. You see who
are good leaders and who are not.
Good leaders stepped up and
solidified things. Bad leaders didn’t.
Two commanders stepped up real
big, but my supervisors kind of
caved in. After the storm, the sheriff’s office asked me to come back
to work with a raise. But I can’t work
under the warden, Bonita Pittman—
she is not an honest person.
Today I’m in the process of looking
for a job. My health has made it
tough, because I am diabetic and
now I need to take insulin. I was
getting unemployment for a while,
but not anymore. I never got any
kind of compensation from the
Sheriff’s department. This whole
experience was a learning experience—a horrible experience.192 ■
55

In Templeman I (Unit E-2), one prisoner reports that SID
was called in when some prisoners in an adjacent dorm
became “unruly” over conditions:

But, since we were curious as to what all the commotion was about, we were all looking out of the
dorms’ window to see. So for our curiosity, “S.I.D.”
came in “our” dorm & made all of us get down, put
our noses to the wet, foul, and unsanitary floor, and
when one of my fellow inmates proclaimed “that we
hadn’t done anything wrong” one of the “S.I.D.s”
assaulted him with the “butt” end of his rifle.
193

One man reports that when he was on the Broad Street
Overpass, he

could see prisoners breaking out windows on the 2nd
& 3rd floors, waving blankets yelling for help. I personally saw 6 prisoners jump to the water below
from the floors mentioned. After the shooting
stopped there was a prisoner with a big whole in his
left upper back bleeding very bad being dragged up
the Broad Overpass where we were seated.

Officers stand
guard over
exhausted prisoners on the
Broad Street
Overpass

194

PHOTOGRAPH: REUTERS/JASON REED

56

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

IV. LEAVING ORLEANS PARISH PRISON
“We were rescued, not evacuated” 1
A.

Breakdowns in the Chain of Command

Having received reports about extensive flooding in New
Orleans, DOC officials became increasingly concerned about
Sheriff Gusman’s decision to not evacuate OPP.2 By Monday
night, many of the buildings in OPP were filling with water
and had lost power. According to Sheriff Gusman, it was at
this point that he called DOC and requested assistance in
evacuating the prison.3 Some deputies tell a different story.
According to them, the evacuation began in earnest only
after officers in charge of the OPP buildings “went over the
head of Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman and called Attorney General Charles Foti for state reinforcements.”4
According to one deputy, “[o]ne of the captains called Foti
and said, ‘We’re losing the battle.’ . . . They (DOC) showed
up with all the things we didn’t have: shotguns with beanbag
rounds, tasers, rubber bullets, riot gear, bulletproof shields.”5
The DOC’s technical assistance report indicates only that
the department received a call at approximately 11:55 pm on
Monday night from the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s
Office requesting DOC assistance in evacuating OPP; the
report does not indicate that Sheriff Gusman placed the call,
or directed that it be placed.6
In Templeman III, the Watch Commanders were disorganized and unable to give clear directions to their deputies.
At one point on Sunday evening, a deputy recalls receiving
“[a] lot of conflicting orders from the Watch Commanders.
The orders from our Watch Commander were to leave the
inmates where they were, and another Watch Commander
said to move the inmates to a higher floor.”7
Deputy Foster reports similar confusion in the House of
Detention. “As the storm approached, [things became] chaotic.
No one gave any orders. Everyone said, ‘I think we need to do
this, I think we need to do that.’ Deputies were running the jail.
. . .”8 One deputy states: “When we got there, they hadn’t told
us anything. They kept telling us they were waiting to see what
the sheriff was going to say. No procedures, no safety precautions. No evacuation plan. The sheriff shouldn’t be a head of
nothing. Anytime a man can’t even handle his employees. . . . I
been there three years and I been through a whole lot.”9

57

DEPUTY DUANE LEWIS
On some floors, the deputies had to

take leg

shackles and tie them around the
cell doors to secure them in order to prevent the
inmates from getting out.
became a deputy at OPP in
2002, and I was assigned to
HOD. I showed up to work the
Sunday before the storm at noon,
six hours ahead of schedule. I’d
been told to be prepared to stay
for at least three days, so I’d
brought enough food and medi-

the inmates from getting out.

cine for my diabetes to last me that
amount of time. My fiancé and
family all evacuated before the

the elevators to work so I had to
hobble down the stairs. I needed
help to make it down. By 7:15 am I
told my supervisor that I was
injured, but I continued working
because I felt that with that amount
of inmates and civilians in the
building, it was my duty to protect
the civilians. I’d heard reports, not
sure whether they were confirmed
or not, of rioting in other buildings,
setting floors on fire. When I heard
about that, I thought about the
women and small children in the
building, and I decided it was my
obligation to protect them from the
inmates in case one of them tried
to riot to get out.

were pepper sprayed and maced
and forced out of the building. I
didn’t have to use force with anyone. Once we got the inmates out,
they turned their back on us

On Day Two, I was placed in a
position to keep people from
swimming up to the building. I was
posted on the Mezzanine area,
and right above there was where
the civilians were staying. I had a

At one point I called my mother
and told her, in case I don’t make it
out, I want you to have it in the
record that we are not being
thought of. There is no food, water,
or any form of sanitation. Thank
God I have these two jars of
peanut butter and two loaves of
bread to help me survive. How can
the Sheriff’s office run out of food?
Another deputy’s husband swam

I

storm hit. I didn’t go with them
because I’d been told at Academy
class that if you don’t report to
work, you can be arrested for negligence of duty. My fiancé didn’t
want to me go to work, but I told
her that I took on this job knowing
the responsibilities I needed to do.
She went to the Superdome, and
my mother, niece, nephew, and
daughter went to Jackson, Mississippi first, and then to Dallas.
Between noon and 6:00pm when
my shift started, I helped people
around the building getting supplies and stuff. At 6:00, I went to
roll call and reported to the 8th
floor. Two deputies, including
myself, were on call for the 8th
floor that night. That floor was solitary confinement, federal inmates,
and protective custody. The
inmates knew there was a storm
brewing, but they didn’t show any
emotions that they were scared at
the time. The shift went fine until
the storm hit—about 5:30am. The
transformers blew up, and we
completely lost power. I was doing
my rounds, and once the power

58

Sometime that first night after we
lost power, my foot got injured. I
don’t know if something fell on my
foot or what. My foot was swollen
out, and by the time I was relieved
from my floor, we had no power for

.357 revolver with regular issue
loads. No one tried to come up. I
got very minimum to eat and drink
that whole time. I’d brought my
own food with me, and that was
my main source of food. People

went off, the electronic doors to
the cells stopped working. Once
that happened, I knew we had to
go in and patrol more frequently to
make sure the inmates were safe
and secure. On some floors, the

were getting scared, ‘cause there
was no ventilation in the building.
One deputy told people to get
down because he was going to
shoot the windows out on the
Mezzanine where the civilians were
to get some ventilation. That
scared a lot of the civilians who
didn’t know what was going on.

deputies had to take leg shackles
and tie them around the cell doors
to secure them in order to prevent

When they started moving the
inmates out of the building, some

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

deputies. The way they treated us
after the storm, you couldn’t imagine it. We really didn’t have any
more food. Tom, a former deputy
who was staying in the building,
needed oxygen and they didn’t
have any oxygen for him in the
building. The refrigeration went
down when the power went down,
so the insulin I had with me for my
diabetes went bad. I was in a lot of
pain, but I had to suck it up and
give the others comfort.

out and came back with watermelons that were floating in the water.
Now, I wasn’t supposed to let him
out, but I’m not gonna stop him
from trying to get food in a state of
emergency. We had a candy
machine filled with chocolate,
chips, all forms of energy. And we
were told, “You better not break
those machines to get to the
food.” All that food could have
been used to feed people! We had
children in there with us, but we

had milk go sour sitting in the milk
machine. The helicopter came and
dropped of food enough for thirtythree people, and we had over one
hundred people in the building. If
you had a helicopter drop off food,
you could have that helicopter take
sick people out. You were left to
think, “How you gonna do this all
on your own?” Thinking about all
this now is bringing up a lot of
mean emotions, but it’s hard. The
idea of bring forgotten about, and
not even being told “thank you.”
On the Friday after the storm, they
got me by boat and dropped me
off on a bridge. I was left on that
bridge for about an hour to fend for
myself, and then a helicopter came
and took me to the airport. No one
from the Sheriff’s office was there
to help me onto that helicopter. I
took myself on an ambulance to
Baton Rouge General Hospital for
treatment of my foot. I had two
surgeries done in Baton Rouge trying to save my toe. They thought
they saved it.
I had to be flown from a small plane
to Dallas to be with my family. In
Dallas, I went to Baylor Hospital
and met with a doctor who said my
infection was too bad, that gangrene had set in, and we are going
to have to take that toe. Two days
after I woke up from toe amputation surgery, I received a phone call
from Bonita Pitman. “Lewis?” she
asked. “Are you planning to return
to work?” “Yes,” I told her, “when I
am well. I just had surgery, I have a

Being diabetic, I was going through
a real hard time. I went from walking on crutches to using a wheelchair to using a walker. I had to

and you couldn’t even send me a
get well card. But you managed to
send me a form saying how much I
owe for my equipment. You can’t
even send me a card and say to
me, “I’m sorry you lost your toe and
if there’s anything I can do, let me
know.” I have to deal with depres-

take antibiotics for roughly a
month—they had to run tubes up
my arm into my heart. When I
called in and filed my first report to
try to get workman’s comp for the
injury, they denied me and told me

sion, fear, snapping at my fiancé,
and going from a forty-year-old
man to a little baby when it rains.
But all I want to hear is, “Thanks.
Job well done. You did a good job,
bro. I’m glad you were there, glad

my injury wasn’t work-related. To
this day, I cannot work, and it is
undetermined when I can go back
to work. I am on my own financially. I am two inches from being
put on the street.

you helped out.” That’s the biggest
thing. A lot of us feel that way. All
we wanna hear is for the man to
say thank you. That’s it: thank you.

106 fever.” What the hell? Not to
send me a get well card? She knew
what had happened to me.

These days I deal with post-traumatic stress—I am taking medicine
for that—depression—so that I
can sleep at night. I have violent
tendencies from being faced with a
place with no food, no fresh water,
and when we did get food, there
was only so much. Last time there
was a thunderstorm, I ran and got
in a closet. I’ve bitten my fiancé in
my sleep from having violent
dreams. I was fighting in my mind.
I’ve had people send me copies of
the things Marlin Gusman said he
did for the hurricane. Wait a minute

The one thing the jail needs is to be
better prepared. They need to
have emergency preparedness
training every six months or three
months. They need to train each
building so that each one is a complete self-sustained entity. Train
people so that people in each
building can handle all situations in
each building. Ask: “Is the fuel for
the generator where it can’t be
contaminated by water or wind?”
Train everyone how to use the riot
gear. Train deputies to put on air
packs in case you have a fire inside
the building so they can get people
out in a safe manner. They don’t
have training like that. I am a merchant marine: I’ve had training. But
not here. There is no fire training in

man! You didn’t do shit! I didn’t see
you walking in that water. I didn’t
see you getting people out of that
building. Marlin Gusman made it
seem like some big successful
thing that he done. It wasn’t you.

the jail system. There is no biohazard training. You’re waiting for the
fire department to get here, but the

You were just a figurehead with
makeup on your face. Come on
man, I’m not stupid. You were supposed to be a man among men.
You are the leader—you should
hold your head up and at least
make me feel like you know what
you’re doing. I’m sitting here with
gangrene setting in past my ankle,

floor is full of smoke. You should
have a special unit, whether it’s
deputies or inmates or both,
trained to use the thermal imager
to find people who may be lying on
the floor. That might sound farfetched, or too far in the future, but
to me, that kind of training could
be done.10 ■

Even after the storm was over, Orleans Parish and St.
Bernard Parish officials continued to bicker over who was
responsible for the St. Bernard Parish prisoners who were
transferred to OPP prior to the storm. Discussing the three
St. Bernard Parish prisoners who managed to escape OPP,
Sheriff Gusman wrote: “The St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s
Office maintained responsibility for the security and wellbeing of these inmates. . . . They provided their own deputies
to guard their own inmates.”11 St. Bernard Parish Colonel
Richard Baumy disputed Sheriff Gusman’s account, stating:
“We sent six deputies there to assist their operation. . . . They
were under the command of New Orleans deputies. It’s their
jail, of course, so we had to operate under their supervision.”12 According to one OPP deputy who was on duty in
Templeman III throughout the storm, the St. Bernard Parish
deputies were “scared to death of their inmates. We were told
not to deal with them because if something happened we’d be
responsible. We eventually had to feed them because they
[the St. Bernard Parish deputies] wouldn’t.”13
B.

The Evacuation Finally Begins

The OPP evacuation began after state DOC officers from
Angola arrived with Warden Burl Cain. The process took
over three days, and appears to have been completed at
some point on Thursday evening or early Friday. Prisoners
report that various corrections personnel rescued them by
boat, including DOC guards, OPP deputies, and national
guardsmen.
In some buildings, rescuers were unable to free prisoners because their cell doors could not be unlocked. In Templeman III, many of the prisoners in the first-floor B-Side
remained locked in lower-level cells while the surrounding
tiers were evacuated. One deputy explains: “The inmates
that were the easiest to move were moved first. . . . B-Side
was primarily last, because one of the Watch Commanders
misplaced the key and we had to find an alternate key.”14
“Before the water got to my waist, we put them all on lockdown and the scary thing about that was the cells wouldn’t
open back up,” says another Templeman III deputy.15 “[S]o
we had to go in the water, open your eyes and try to open
them manually and only my Chief Bordelon and Major
Jones were able to do it. That was a big help that they were
on hand—without them, the inmates would have died
because they never taught us that.”16
Most prisoners report that they were instructed to leave all of
their belongings behind, and were told that they would still be

59

J O Y C E

t the time of the storm, I had
been in Orleans Parish Prison
for about one year. I was housed in
a ground-floor dorm (Unit B) of Templeman IV. The women in our unit

A

stayed in open dorms with triplestacked bunk beds. At the time of
the storm, some women were even
sleeping on the floor because there
wasn’t enough bed space.
We found out the storm was coming by watching TV, but on Sunday
the TV cut off. The phones were
already off, so after Sunday we had
no more contact with what was
going on outside. All we knew was
what the Yanks were telling us
when they came back to the dorm
after talking to the deputies. On
Sunday they were telling us that
we should pack our stuff because
deputies were about to move us.
But we never was moved. When
the deputies locked the Yanks and
us in the dorm, we didn’t know
what was happening, and we didn’t see the deputies for a long time.
When the power went out, it was
dark—no lights. Water backed up
from the commodes and sewer
water from the flood came under
the doors and filled up our unit to
the second bunk. We didn’t know
what was going on, and it was
hard to even know what day it
was. In our unit there were elderly
women who had trouble getting
onto the top of the third bunk to
avoid the water, and there was at
least one pregnant lady who also
had trouble. We tried to help those
women as best we could. My friend
Iris Hardeman was really sick, and
we were worried about her.
We were all trying to stick together,
praying, singing. Trying to be
strong through it all because we
didn’t know what was going to
happen. We had no food to eat,

60

G I L S O N

You wouldn’t imagine that one person would let another
human being go through that, when there was time to let
us out. It never would occur to me that a person could let
that happen;

even though we’re in jail

we’re human beings.
except the little bit that people had
bought from commissary, but we’d
eaten all of that long before they
finally moved us.
When it was time to move us,
deputies came in at night with
flashlights and everyone got up. It
was completely dark, and they just
told us to get all of the stuff that we
could and bring it with us. With no
light, we couldn’t find anything, so
we just carried out our own bodies,
and we held people who couldn’t
hold themselves up.

there instead. There were all kinds
of smoke in the air, like they just put
a fire out. We were coughing, black
stuff was coming out of our noses.
It was terrifying. At that point, the
deputies were telling us that they
were trying to contact people to
get us out of there, but they couldn’t get any help. We were there for

They took us to the Overpass and
told us to sit down. We were on
one side of the bridge and the men
were on the other side. There were
dogs and other officers there. The
officers used plastic cuffs to cuff
each woman to the woman next to
her. Then they told us to sit down
back-to-back with other women.

a few hours, until the next morning
when the sun came up and we
could see around the room. There
were blankets in the bathroom that

There were ice chests full of bottled
water on the bridge, and we were
asking for the water. We were so

the men had burnt before we got
up there, and the room was all dirty
and nasty. All the chemical bottles

We walked through the jail on the
ground floor from Templeman IV to
III; the water was up to my chest
and I am 5’2”. It probably took half
an hour to one hour to get all of us
to Templeman III. When we were

they use for cleaning were thrown
around. When we looked out the
window we saw how high the
water was and we wondered how
we would get out of there.

walking through that water, Sheriff
Gusman was there. He was telling
us to be careful, to hold on to the

They came up to take us out of the
building and took us to Central
Lock-Up, which was filled with
water. We left Templeman III probably at around 7 or 8am, and we
only got out of Central Lock-Up
late that night. In Central Lock-Up
there were men as well as women.

wall or the fence as we were walking. That was the only time I ever
saw him.
In Templeman III we climbed the
stairs to a higher level, and male
deputies with flashlights were leading us up the stairs. There wasn’t
any floodwater in that dorm, but it
was dark and we couldn’t see anything. The men had already set
fires in that dorm, which they did
so the guards would get them out
of there. But then they moved us in

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

The women were still being pretty
supportive of each other, but some
men were trying to escape any
way they could and there was
shooting around us. There were
big double doors where the boats
were picking people up and we
could see outside. We stood up on
a truck to get into the boat.

thirsty and it was really only then
that we started to get wild, really trying to get to the ice chests. They
could have given us a piece of ice or
something. Some women reached
in and that was when they maced
us and put the dogs on us. I didn’t
get to touch any of the ice. Some
civilians on the bridge were trying
to give us water too, but the officers
wouldn’t allow them to get close.
Some of them threw bottles to us
and we just tried to get a few sips.
They took off the plastic cuffs so I
could get into a boat to go to the
interstate. On the interstate they
put the cuffs back on and told us
to sit down again. They threw bottles of water to us, but still no food.
I was tired and very weak. They
had people passing out at that
point. I lost sight of my friend Iris at
that point and didn’t see her again
until we got to Angola and they
were deciding where to put us.

there when they returned to the jail after the storm. Prisoners lost irreplaceable items such as legal paperwork and personal belongings. They also lost medications and medical
paperwork that would have helped them obtain treatment at
the facilities to which they were later sent. Ronnie Lee Morgan, Jr., a federal prisoner in HOD, explains:
She died a little while after we got
to Angola, but I didn’t see her die
because they placed me in a different part of the building.

On Thursday, DOC guards came on the tier throwing guns in our face. They told us to leave everything
there, because it would be there when we got back. I
tried to get my legal paperwork, but a guard pulled
his gun on me so I left it there. I lost all of my legal
work. I also lost baby pictures of my daughters, and
the storm took the pictures that their mom had. My
daughters are now 9 and 11 years old, and that
whole memory of them as babies is gone now.

I can’t remember how long it was
before I found out where my family
was—maybe two or three weeks. I
was sitting down talking to another
woman abut how I still didn’t know
if my family was okay, and she was
saying she didn’t know where her
family was. Then a deputy came
and brought me the message that
my family was okay and that they
were in Mississippi and that I
should call them. I will never forget
that. It was a relief—so wonderful.
I thank God today that I am alive.
With all that we went through I
thought they would really leave us
for dead. I’m still trying to get
myself together. Some people I
meet ask me about what happened, because they talked to
someone who was there during
the storm, and they heard that I
was at the jail too. I don’t conversate about it because I’m trying to
forget it.
If I could talk to the Sheriff, it
wouldn’t be nothing nice. The people from Angola said they came to
the jail on Friday and Gusman
refused to let them take us. He
should have let them take us. You
wouldn’t imagine that one person
would let another human being go
through that, when there was time
to let us out. It never would occur
to me that a person could let that
happen; even though we’re in jail
we’re human beings. And then
Gusman lied about us having food
and water when he knows we didn’t. He knows we didn’t. There’s
just no way he can correct this. If I
had anything to tell him, it wouldn’t
be nothing nice.17 ■

18

C.

Prisoners Were Held for Hours in Central
Lock-Up Before Being Evacuated by Boat

Central Lock-Up is a small building where prisoners are
brought to be booked after they are arrested. It served as a
staging area for the evacuation from OPP: hundreds of prisoners were moved there from other buildings, where they
remained in chest-deep water for as long as twelve or thirteen
hours. One reason prisoners waited there so long was
because the Sheriff did not have enough boats to transport
them. Early reporting indicated that the Sheriff had only five
boats to transport the nearly 7000 prisoners who were in the
facility when Katrina hit, not to mention all of the deputies,
staff members, and civilians who were invited into the facility
to ride out the storm.19 More recent information from the
Sheriff’s office indicates that only three boats actually were
on-hand.20 According to one high-ranking official in the Sheriff’s office, when one of the larger boats broke down, prison
officials “broke into an adjacent parking garage at police
headquarters so they could ‘scavenge’ car batteries for the
boat’s electric trolling motor.”21
When they arrived in Central Lock-Up, prisoners were
“bunched together like cattle.”22 The water was deep. Some
prisoners report it reached their necks. Some were too short
or too weak to stand above the water on their own. When Iris
Hardeman passed through Central Lock-Up, other women
took turns holding her up.23 Another woman from Templeman IV reports that she carried an elderly woman on her
back from her building to Central Lock-Up:

We waded thru 4 1/2 sometimes 5 foot deep water. I
carried a 65 year old lady on my back because she
was 4 foot 9 inches and could not swim and had a
heart condition and the officers told her that if she
didn’t learn to swim quick they had a body bag with
her name on it. . . . [W]e were moved to Central

61

Lock Up to wade and stood in water for 9 1/2
hours. Where I stood with the 65 year old lady on
my back or in my arms we were not allowed to sit on
any desk or tables. After 5 1/2 hours my legs started
giving out so some of my friends saw me go under
water while trying to keep the old lady up and came
and held us up for 4 hours.
24

One prisoner from Templeman I reports that when he arrived
in Central Lock-Up: “The water looked as if it had sat in an
outside pool for months. It smelled as if someone mixed it
with 90% diesil gasoline. I sware, the whole while I was in
that water, I feared for my life. Imagine someone 5’0 feet
moving through say about 5’3 or 5’4 feet water?”25 Another
writes, “[t]he water was literally burning my skin it was so
thick with Disel feul.”26
By the time they arrived in Central Lock-Up, many of
the prisoners had gone days without food, water, or medical
attention. Female prisoners from Templeman IV were held
alongside male prisoners in Central Lock-Up. One female
prisoner reports that when she was in Central Lock-Up, a
male inmate grabbed her leg underwater. “I screamed and
the deputies started running toward me while the other
female inmates said that theirs is a man under water. The
deputies started shooting in the water by my legs and the
male inmates which was 3 at that time got up and started
running and then the deputies start shooting over my head.”27
Another female prisoner from Templeman describes a similar incident in which “[a] few men went under the funky
water grabbing on the women inmates.”28
One prisoner from South White Street was incarcerated
for failing to meet with his probation officer. He reports that
before leaving South White Street, a guard provided the prisoners with plastic bags so that they could leave with their
belongings. After walking two blocks through neck-deep
water, he reached Central Lock-Up. Once there, he faced
“armed guards w/ rifels and machine guns demanding us to
remain still at that point, and to drop our belongings (which
was everthing we own, including all address and phone numbers to all relatives everwhere.) We dropped our bag as
instructed and proceeded to the boat. They hit some us with
the muzzel of the guns and shove some in the back.”29
Another prisoner states that in Central Lock-Up, “prisoners
were being shot with beanbags & rubber bullets & they were
only trying to get to safety.”30 “[T]he deputies had shotguns
shooting them over our heads at the wall and the ceiling causing sheet rock and debrie to fall on our heads and face and eye.
I was scared for my life because things were out of control.”31
D.

Reports of Deaths Inside OPP

Sheriff Gusman has consistently stated that there were no
deaths at OPP during the storm and the subsequent evacuation.32 However, several deputies and many prisoners report
witnessing deaths at the jail. Speaking to a reporter shortly
after the evacuation, Deputy Luis Reyes stated: “There are
dead inmates in there still. When the guards were doing their
last sweeps there were one or two here and there. We were

62

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

not giving them any food or water.”33 Deputy Deborah
Williams recalls being with juveniles during the storm. After
making her way from Louisiana to New York to be with her
daughter, Deputy Williams recounted: “It was horrible. Two
of our kids drowned, and there was nothing we could do to
help them. One of them was pregnant. There were bodies
floating by, and the soldiers kept telling us to hurry, that it
wasn’t safe.”34
After the storm passed, Corey Stevenson was moved
from his juvenile tier in Old Parish Prison to an open dorm
that housed adults. He recalls that the man sleeping in the
bunk above him was diabetic, and he died some time after the
power went out in the building. “When it was time to move
him, I was shaking him hard—harder than normal—and he
wouldn’t get up. I put my arms around his back and pulled
him off the bed. His feet hit the floor and I was dragging him.
A US Marshall pointed a shotgun at me and said what the
hell is in your pocket. It was my mail bag. The US Marshall
told me to leave the man by the showers, so I did.”35 Two prisoners housed in the upper tier of Templeman III (D-3) report
that an elderly prisoner passed away during the storm.36
Reports of deaths have not been limited to prisoners.
During Sheriff Gusman’s reelection campaign, his opponent
ran a television ad featuring a maintenance worker at the jail
claiming that two female deputies died of smoke inhalation
following the storm.37
One year after the storm, no deaths at OPP have been
confirmed. It is certainly conceivable that given the chaos at
the jail deputies and employees were mistaken about having
seen dead bodies there. When asked about this possibility,
however, one prisoner responded, “[h]ow could I forget it?”38
Bodies are still being found in parts of New Orleans,39 and
FEMA has admitted, “it’s likely that many of the lost will not
be found.”40 The Orleans Parish coroner’s office reported
recently that 49 persons found dead in Katrina’s floodwaters
remain unidentified.41 Some of the prisoners for whom fugitive arrest warrants were issued have not been recaptured,
and the only evidence of their “escape” from OPP may well
be that they did not show up at DOC facilities in the weeks
after the storm. Several groups and individuals have generated lists to identify any prisoners who may have died at OPP
during the storm or while in transit to state facilities, but
those lists will never be complete, because there does not
appear to be an entirely accurate list of all of the individuals
who were detained in OPP at the time of the storm.

Prisoners
await rescue
on a freeway
overpass

“I was on the overpass for several days alongside the prisoners. Civilians were told not to take photographs, but I took this
picture on Wednesday afternoon. At one point, the prisoners were seated all the way up the bridge. The trash in the photos is
actually the belongings of the prisoners that some of them were able to take with them from the jail. When they were moved
from the bridge on Wednesday morning, they were told to leave all of their belongings behind.”
-Mary Gehman, writer, New Orleans. P H O T O G R A P H : M A RY G E H M A N

64

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

V. T H E O V E R PA S S
Interstate 10 lies several blocks away from the main buildings of OPP. Parts of the Interstate were submerged by the
time officials began evacuating prisoners from OPP. Therefore, prisoners were taken by boat to the Broad Street Overpass, which rises in an arc above Interstate 10. Boats
dropped the prisoners off a short distance from the Interstate
10 on-ramp, and prisoners then waded through chest-deep
water until they were able to climb the on-ramp and get to the
dry portions of the Overpass.
Thousands of prisoners were eventually transferred to
the Overpass, where they remained anywhere from several
hours to several days. When buses arrived to transport prisoners out of New Orleans, they stopped on the Interstate
below. DOC officers eventually built a scaffold that prisoners
were ordered to use to climb down to the buses on the Interstate. Later, evacuees from the prison were driven by boat
directly to the Interstate.
When prisoners reached the Overpass, most of them
were filled with the hope that their ordeal was now over. One
prisoner writes: “[W]hen I made it to the bridge I thought
things would get much better but it got worser. I though I was
going to die that I was’nt going to make it out there. I was
stuck on that bridge for 3 days no water or nothing I past out
I was miserable.”1 Unfortunately, many of the prisoners
found that “on the bridge, we were exposed to even worse
treatment then when in the prison.”2
On the Overpass, prisoners were placed in rows, and were
ordered to remain seated back-to-back. One prisoner writes:

Apon arriving to the broad St. Bridge the guards
then were placing us in rows. Each row were back to
back and next row were the same. This was going on
all through the night. We had to sleep sitting up in a
cural like position. All through the night they continously transporting inmates to the bridge. Placing
them into the back to back position all night long.
This was the most uncomfortable sitting position I
ever sat for at least 10 hours.
3

Sitting on the hot asphalt, prisoners began suffering from
dehydration and heat exhaustion. A deputy witnessed “several inmates passing out from heat exhaustion, dehydration.
About twenty inmates passed out before water was even
considered to be brought to the bridge.”4 A prisoner from
South White Street saw “one gentleman laying under a van
for shade, seemed near death. . . . His breathing was real
slow, he wasn’t responding. I brung it to a number of deputies
attention, even a couple of nurses who was walking by and
they refused to give him attention. The guy was like foaming
from the side of his mouth.”5
Prisoners were assaulted when they attempted to stand
to go to the bathroom. One man says that he was “maced
several times because I either wanted to stretch my sore &
numb limbs or because I need to use the bathroom.”6
According to one deputy, on the Overpass there were “some
instances where pepper spray was used where it could have
been avoided. . . . When the inmates were getting pepper
sprayed, the only things they were asking for was food or
water. They wasn’t getting hostile or whatever. But when
they got loud, they got pepper sprayed.”7
Prisoners complain that the use of force went beyond
pepper spray. Dozens of prisoners recall officers using taser
guns on prisoners who were stretching or who asked for
help. “Many inmates suffer being maced, shot at with beanbag gun, tasered and I saw an old man being attacked by
police K-9s simply because his limbs became numb & he
needed to stretch,” writes one man.8 Another states that he
watched an inmate he knew “get bitten by a dog because he
had to use the bathroom and ‘stood up’ when were ‘told’ to
stay sitting in the sun on that ‘hot’ concrete. . . . The guard
couldn’t get the dog to release [his] leg for about 5 minutes.”9
One female prisoner states: “Some inmates got mace or
sprayed. They brougt the dogs out on us. I have never seen
anything like this in my 45 years of living.”10
Robie Waganfeald was arrested several days before the
storm on a charge of public intoxication; he was in New
Orleans for the night after returning from a seven-week summer vacation with a childhood friend.11 In a letter written to
his father, Mr. Waganfeald states that he sat in the sun on the
Overpass for ten hours with “no water and with National
Guardsmen threatening to shoot people. Some got hit with
rubber bullets, others with pepper spray. It was the most
humiliating, unjustifiable thing I’ve ever seen.”12
Another prisoner writes:

By mid-day many inmates were falling down,
apparently from dehydration or sunstroke. Many
inmates were pushing and shoving one another to get
onboard one of the airboats. At this time I was
pushed by a crowd of inmates toward the boats and
S.I.D. ordered everyone back. I couldn’t turn back,
and S.I.D. began to spray the crowd with pepper
spray. I was sprayed heavily in the eyes and on my
back. Over the next several hours I was sprayed twice
more for no reason whatsoever.
More officers arrived to relieve S.I.D. personnel,
bringing dogs with them. I saw one man attacked by

65

a dog while heading to the side of the bridge to relieve
himself. I saw guards “march” an inmate past me
with Taser Wires attatched to his back. At no point
were we given food or water, and we spent the entire
day sitting directly in the sun, at gunpoint.
13

A female prisoner states that she “had to urinate behind a truck
with a rifle pointed at me.”14 Another writes, “[w]e were made
to sit there, back to back, unless we had to use the bathroom,
then we could stand walk a few feet away and urinate right
there on the overpass in front of everyone!”15 Another female
prisoner recalls that SID and members of the SWAT team:

made us urinate and make bowl movements in our
clothes where we sat. It was inhumane, humiliating
and also degrading. I an other females we on our
ministration and had no sanitary napkins to change
our old ones. We wore what we had on for 3 days.
Some of us had ministral blood all over us. The
S.I.D. and Swat team called us “crackheads”,
“whore”, “bitches” and all sorts of other names.
16

Prisoners
await rescue
on the
Broad Street
Overpass

PHOTOGRAPH: AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTOS

66

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

V I . J U V E N I L E S AT O P P
To this day, it is still unclear how many children were
detained in OPP at the time of the storm. According to the
Sheriff’s own statistics, over 300 children were transferred to
OPP shortly before the storm from the city-run YSC alone.1
The Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana (JJPL) estimates
that the number was closer to 150.2 Neither figure includes
juveniles at OPP who were being held and tried as adults.
Following the storm, the JJPL interviewed dozens of the
boys and girls who were trapped in OPP during and after Katrina. Their experiences, though no different in many ways
from that of the adult prisoners at the jail, are particularly
troubling in light of their age and vulnerability. For all of the
prisoners in OPP during the storm, it is worth asking why they
were not evacuated when the threat posed by Katrina became
widely known, and DOC offered to assist. For the adult prisoners arrested on minor charges in the two days before the
storm, it is also worth asking why those arrests were even
made, and whether it would have been prudent for the city to
release such prisoners in order to allow them to evacuate the
city with the their families.
These questions grow more pointed when one considers
the fate of the juveniles who were at OPP, many of whom
were being held on minor charges, and were separated from
their loved ones and left to fear that they had been abandoned to die in the jail. What makes the juveniles’ suffering
all the more tragic is that in the five days before the storm,
now-Chief Judge David Bell of the Orleans Parish Juvenile
Court issued orders releasing those pre-trial juveniles who
were held in Orleans Parish detention centers, and were not
deemed threats to society.3 Those release orders appear not
to have been executed.4
A.

The Move to OPP

Some of the children who were at OPP throughout the storm
were already being housed at the jail in CYC. Others were
brought to the jail on Sunday, August 28, from the city-run
YSC, and from the St. Bernard Detention Center. No official from either facility has explained why the juveniles were
brought to OPP in the face of New Orleans’s mandatory

evacuation order that exempted only inmates of the Orleans
Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office.5
Before leaving YSC, one 17-year-old boy reports the
children were told “to take one sheet with them. We weren’t
allowed to take deodorant or mail or anything else.”6 A 15year-old boy, also from YSC, was brought to OPP in a van
with eight other boys, “all cuffed and shackled.”7 A 15-yearold girl says she was taken in a van with fifteen girls, two of
them pregnant, to OPP from the YSC girls’ ward.8
Once they arrived at OPP, many of the YSC youths
were taken to Templeman V. The boys were taken to the
second floor and crowded into cells designed to hold two people. Both an OPP staff member and a number of St. Bernard
Parish prisoners report that juveniles were also held in Templeman III,9 although it is unclear whether these were juveniles who were being held and tried as adults. One of the
juveniles from St. Bernard Parish reports that he was first
locked in a first-floor “open dorm with about 200 adult
inmates.”10 In addition to being the only juveniles in the
room, he recalls that he and the other juvenile from St.
Bernard Parish were the only two white people in the room;
he reports that he was threatened with violence until he was
moved to a holding cell with his companion.11
There were approximately 16-20 girls who were transferred from YSC, and they were initially brought to a room
where there was only a curtain separating them from the
adult male inmates.12 A 13-year-old girl states that at some
point the girls were brought to a “20 person dorm” room on
the second floor.13
B.

Last Meals

“One boy found some dog snacks.”14
Like the adults held in OPP, the juveniles ate their last meals
at different times. However, no juvenile interviewed reports
eating after Monday, August 29. The children spent between
three and five days without receiving food. Three of the boys
said deputies at OPP had food during and after the storm.
One 17-year-old reports that “[p]eople’s nerves were very
bad. Guards were leaving . . . [then] coming back with their
own food and eating [it] in front of [us] without giving us
any.”15 Days after Katrina, a 16-year-old boy said that once he
and other boys were evacuated, they still did not receive food,
though they could “see guards eating. . . . They had food with
them on the rooftops. When [adult] prisoners tried to take the
food, the guards threatened to shoot them.”16
One 16-year-old boy reports that another youth found
and ate “dog snacks” during his evacuation by boat from OPP
because it had been so long since he last ate.17Another boy
states: “When we got on the boat [to evacuate OPP], [guard]
Mo took us (6-9 kids) to [the Broad Street Bridge]. There was
food floating in the water and we tried to catch it and eat it.
That’s how hungry we were.”18 One youth states: “We went
five days without eating. . . . Kids were passing out in their
cells. The guards never explained anything to us.”19

67

A S H L E Y & R U BY A NNE GEORGE

If it wasn’t for the prisoners,
they would have drowned.

ASHLEY GEORGE
was thirteen years old when the
storm happened. I was in the
Youth Study Center (“YSC”), but
on Sunday, August 28 they moved
me with other boys and girls from
YSC to the prison. We were in the
jailhouse across from the big boy

I

jail. We were in a big dorm on the
second floor with the adult women.
Across the hall from us there were
adult men prisoners. Before the
storm when we were still able to
use the toilets, the men watched
us. When the storm started, water
broke through the gate and started
rising. The day after the storm,
water came into the place and I
was in water up to my neck for a

68

couple of days. We got no food, no
water. I felt like I was going to die.
The guards didn’t do anything to
help us. We weren’t going to get
out, but the adult prisoners
escaped and got help for us. Military people told us that if we had
stayed in there another day we
would have drowned. Adults took
a mattress and floated some girls
out to the boat. I took another boat
and went to the bridge, where I got
chips and water. Sometimes we
had to go to the bathroom on the
bridge, and they put a box around
us and made us go to the bathroom in front of the adults and

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

other boys. There were pregnant
girls with us also, but they did not
get any special attention.
We got on a bus that took us to
Jetson. At Jetson they gave us
food and water and we took showers. They also gave us teddy
bears. I was there for about three
or four days, before they brought
me to some group home. I got to
go with my grandmother about
one month later20
RUBY ANN GEORGE
shley is my granddaughter.
After the storm I was going
crazy. I kept calling and calling and

A

calling and calling. I thought they
took them to Baton Rouge before
the storm. They ain’t nothing but
children. I kept calling all over, but I
didn’t find out where she was for
about a month. She was in Baton
Rouge. They kept giving me different numbers to call and finally she
called me on my son’s phone.
It’s horrible. Nobody should have
gone through that—adults or children. They should have gotten
them out of there. I was mad. They
should have taken the children to
Baton Rouge in the first place. If it
wasn’t for the prisoners, they
would have drowned.21 ■

C.

Heat, Humidity and No Drinking Water:

“I felt like I was about to die.”22
With few exceptions, the boys report not receiving any drinking water after Monday, August 29. Many of them resorted
to drinking the floodwater, which contained urine and feces
from backed-up toilets.23 One 16-year-old boy told JJPL,
“[t]he water . . . looked like it had a lot of oil in it. It had rainbows in it and lots of trash.”24 A 15-year-old boy saw a boy get
“maced” by guards when he asked for drinking water while
waiting to be evacuated from the Broad Street Overpass.25
According to one youth: “One kid passed out from dehydration. . . . I started to get really dizzy, like the roadrunner when
he gets knocked down, with the birds flying all around his
head. I felt like I was about to die.”26 A 16-year-old boy
reports: “I had been locked up before, but not behind real
bars. We couldn’t do anything. We had no sheets, no blankets,
nothing. It got really hot, people started getting naked and
cursing other people out because they were so hot.”27 A 15year-old girl similarly recalls that “[i]t was so hot at night we
sometimes slept without clothes.”28 She reports the girls at
OPP received two gallons of drinking water per day to share
among 15-20 of them. “We got a little every day.”29
D.

Flooding

“I can’t seem to get that smell out of my skin.”30
1. Inside OPP
The children from CYC were held on the first floor of a
building where the floodwaters rose to several feet. Boys
climbed to the highest bunks in their locked cells to keep out
of the rising waters.31 Many of the juveniles were held in dormitories that did not have enough beds for all of them. Fights
broke out when the water started to rise, and space grew
more limited. Some of the juveniles report being injured during these fights and complain that they received no medical
attention.32 A few children who were held on the second floor
started to panic when they looked outside and saw the water
rising. One 16-year-old boy states:

A few hours after the storm hit, the water started rising. That night the water started coming out of the
toilet and the drains. It smelled like straight swamp
water. I was crying and thinking about my people
because right before the power went out we saw what
was happening on the news and saw the Ninth Ward
flooding. Kids were really upset because most of them
were from the Lower Ninth.
33

Most of the children report that their toilets backed up, spilling
human waste into the floodwaters and filling the facility with
an unbearable stench. A 14-year-old boy describes it as
smelling “dirty because of the toilets. You couldn’t use [them]
and they smelled.”34 Another youth says that the smell in his
cell was so bad that he covered the toilet with a mattress, but
that didn’t help to relieve the stench.35 According to one 15-

year-old boy: “We had human feces floating around us in the
water . . . we was forced to survive in for 3 days. I still have
little sores on my skin. I can’t seem to get that smell out of my
skin . . . . [M]aybe it’s all in my head but that smell will be
with me, and be in my head for a very long time.”36

2. Outside OPP “Tall adults carried little ones.”37
Depending on their age and size, children had to wade, swim
or be carried through the toxic floodwaters during their evacuation from OPP. Some of them were taken by boat to the
Broad Street Overpass. Others went to the fishponds outside
OPP, where they waited with adult prisoners to be taken to the
Jetson Center for Youth (JCY). Several children were shackled and handcuffed while trying to walk through floodwaters
that came up to the chins of some of the tallest youth. A 15year-old boy who is 6’2” said that the water was “up to my
chin. . . . [The] tall adults carried little ones.”38 Some juveniles
report that only the smaller children were given life jackets.
Several children recall being tied together with plastic cuffs,
and then being pulled out by a rope and put on boats.39 One 15year-old boy states: “It was scary because I can’t swim and
they were pulling us by our shirts and I went under the water a
few times. I even swallowed a lot of water.”40
As for the girls, a 13-year-old states that adult inmates
“took a mattress and floated [us] out. [We] were taken by the
mattress to a boat.”41 One 15-year-old girl says: “We walked
through the water up to my mouth. I’m 5’7”. We carried [a]
twelve year-old through the water. Guards watched ‘trustees’
[adult prisoners] help us into the boats.”42
E.

No Medical Care

A 16-year-old boy reports that children who got into fights
were placed in separate cells, but they received no treatment
for their injuries.43 One youth was hit in the face with a
phone, while another had his jaw broken. Other children
were injured after being hit in the face or maced by guards.44
Two pregnant juveniles received no medical attention,45
although it is not known if they or their babies suffered any
ill-effects as a result.
Many of the juveniles complain that they became covered in bumps and spots from the floodwaters. A 15-year-old
boy says that his feet “turned all white, with mildew and
sores on them. I was throwing up blood . . . . My feet are still
messed up and still itching.”46 Some of the juveniles also
became ill as a result of going under the floodwaters, and others complain that they suffered bad sunburns due to being
exposed to the late August sun and heat for long periods.47
F.

Youth Are Beaten by Guards

“We can shoot to kill”48
As conditions at OPP deteriorated, deputies and other security personnel used violence and threats of violence against
children in an attempt to maintain order. Some children were
injured as a result.49 While in OPP, one youth was hit in the
face multiple times by a guard. He says that guards threat-

69

ened other children “with guns raised to their heads.”50
The violence and threats by guards increased when the
children arrived at the Broad Street Overpass. A 14-year-old
boy states that once they arrived at the Overpass, children
were threatened by armed, uniformed officers he believed
were from the NOPD: “They had big guns. . . . They told us
that the mayor said ‘We can shoot to kill.’ There was military
there, too, but it was mostly NOPD. NOPD beat up an adult
prisoner. They busted open his head. . . . You could see the
meat.”51 One 15-year-old girl and one 16-year-old boy both
say that on the bus from the Broad Street Overpass to JCY,
“one girl got beaten by a guard for fighting with another
girl.”52 The girl was removed and taken to a van. According
to the boy, the guard used “closed fists.”53
Other youth witnessed adult inmates being beaten. One
17-year-old states:

One man was maced and beat up really badly. His
head was busted. . . . They let the dogs loose on that
man. . . . The dogs were biting him all over. They
told people they would kill them if they moved. . . .
The worst thing I saw was the guards beating that
man while everyone was just sitting there. . . . Those
people need to go to jail or something.
54

There are also reports of youth being maced by guards. One
boy writes: “When [we] were shackled it was ten youth
shackled together. [Another boy] slipped out his handcuffs so
they maced him and since we were all shackled together, the
other kids basically got maced too.”55 Another boy states:
“Guards did not really care about us. [One] kid got maced
requesting water. Some kids were too weak to act, or do anything for themselves.”56
G.

Arriving at JCY

Dr. Sinclair recalls that they “kept boys in the infirmary with
health problems, then put half in JCY and half in other
places; some of the kids broke down crying when they were
forced to be moved.”59 OYD staff also worked tirelessly to
help children locate and contact their family members. By
way of contrast, “[t]he prison never notified the parents
where they were going to take the kids,” according to Lynette
Robinson, the mother of one 15-year-old boy who was in
OPP during the storm.60 She continues: “I didn’t know if he
was alive or dead. I was afraid he was floating somewhere.
He shouldn’t have been afraid he was going to die.”61
The entire experience had a profound effect on these children. One 15-year-old states, “it was a horrible experience
and I would never want to go through that again and I know
this will have a long-term effect on me until I am dead and
gone.”62 Another 15-year-old sums up the entire experience in
this way: “We were treated like trash in New Orleans.”63

Before Katrina, Ahmad Nelson spent
one-and-a-half years away from his
daughter after being wrongfully accused
of shooting a police officer. Charged
with public drunkenness three days
before the storm hit New Orleans, Mr.
Nelson found himself back in OPP during the storm. Once guards abandoned
him and other the others prisoners in
Templeman III without food or water, Mr.
Nelson found a way to bring himself to
safety. Mr. Nelson’s experience inside
OPP during and after Katrina began
spreading on internet message boards
shortly after the storm. He has not seen
his daughter since the storm.
PHOTOGRAPH: THOMAS BACON,
WWW.THOMASBACON.COM

Most of the children report that conditions improved substantially once they arrived at JCY, a facility operated by the
Office of Youth Development (“OYD”). Juveniles were fed,
allowed to bathe, given clean clothes, and some received
medical attention. A 15-year-old boy reports that at JCY “we
got food and water. We were treated very nicely.”57 OYD staff
report that upon hearing that the children were being transported to their facility, they immediately began preparing for
their arrival by getting clothing and food ready, as well as setting up a place for all the children to sleep.
According to Dr. Heidi Sinclair, a pediatrician who
examined children as they arrived at JCY, she encountered

[o]ne 10 year-old with broken arm, one girl pregnant, one girl with child in foster care. . . . [Children] told stories of chest-high water and floating
bodies. . . . A few kids passed out from heat exhaustion. . . . Six employees from YSC . . . were completely traumatized, vowing to never go back to New
Orleans.
58

70

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

Ahmad Nelson
and his
daughter Mimi

VII. SHERIFF GUSMAN’S DENIALS
“Crackheads, cowards and criminals.” 1
According to the National Institute of Corrections (NIC)
Guide, it is important that leaders respond properly to criticism
following an emergency. When faced with “controversial
issues, media criticism, and inmate complaints,” the NIC
Guide warns leaders not to “make snap judgments and simply
exonerate staff out of hand. The leader must see to it that these
matters are investigated promptly, thoroughly, and honestly.”2
Sheriff Gusman responded reflexively and defensively to
criticisms by deputies, staff members, and prisoners. When
faced with the accounts by his deputies who described a complete loss of order inside the jail, Sheriff Gusman dismissed
their claims as “lies” and said “the people making them are
disgruntled ex-employees and possibly deserters.”3 Sheriff
Gusman’s response to reports by prisoners of their experiences during the storm epitomizes a callous disregard for
prisoners’ welfare that has long been endemic to OPP. The
Sheriff denied the truth of their claims, stating: “They’re in
jail, man. They lie.”4 Sheriff Gusman later told one reporter:
“I have 75 accounts from inmates given by lawyers with misleading questions. It’s kind of hilarious to read them. . . .
None of it was true. But when you put it in the paper it
becomes more credible and it frustrates the hell out of me.
Don’t rely on crackheads, cowards and criminals to say what
the story is.”5 The response given by the head of Louisiana’s
Department of Corrections was hardly better. When asked
about the OPP evacuation, Secretary Richard Stalder
reportedly quipped, “[s]ome have assured me they will never
be late on child support payments again.”6
Soon after the storm, Sheriff Gusman assured the
public that all of the people in OPP had been evacuated
safely, and that no prisoners had escaped.7 Even while he was
making these claims, however, his office issued fugitive arrest
warrants for fourteen prisoners believed to have escaped
from OPP. Sheriff Gusman’s claim was ultimately proven
false when several of the prisoners who managed to escape
the floodwaters were recaptured. One man escapee was
George Schaefer III, a St. Bernard Parish prisoner who was
being held on murder charges.8 On November 2, Mississippi
authorities arrested Mr. Schaefer after he allegedly committed another murder. One St. Bernard Parish prisoner who

71

was in the gymnasium with Mr. Schaefer during the storm
reports, “a convicted murderer had plotted, and went
through with his escape.”9 That man also reports on several
other escape attempts he witnessed: “[T]here was only
approx. 3 I know of who actually were successful. 2 were
thrown back through the roof, one was beaten & maced
while being drug back into the gym, and one had made it as
far as the courthouse steps, before being shot with riot bags,
and returned to the gym.”10
Of course, not all of the prisoners who fled the jail were
captured in connection with new arrests. For instance, an
arrest warrant was issued for David Fernandez, a 20-yearold who was awaiting trial on drug charges. From an undisclosed location, Mr. Fernandez spoke with a reporter for the
New Orleans Times-Picayune months after the storm. He
explained: “It wasn’t like we wanted to escape. The charges I
had wasn’t really about nothing. Why would I want to
escape? I escaped for my life.”11 Another prisoner who managed to escape the jail was Ahmad Nelson, who was arrested
three days before the storm. Despite the fact that the story of
Mr. Nelson’s escape from the horrible conditions inside OPP
began spreading on the internet as early as September 7,
2005,12 the Sheriff’s office continued to deny that anyone
escaped, and only obtained a fugitive arrest warrant for Mr.
Nelson in late October 2005. According to one nonprofit law
enforcement watchdog group, the Sheriff’s refusal to
acknowledge that prisoners escaped from OPP made it
seems as though his office was “more concerned with their
own public relations issues than public safety.”13
The evacuation was the centerpiece of Sheriff Gusman’s
recent re-election campaign. The Sheriff continues to maintain that the evacuation was accomplished “without casualty
or serious injury,”14 and that his deputies stood fast and maintained order during and after the storm.15 A spokesperson for
the DOC similarly commented that she had not heard of any
OPP deputies abandoning their posts.16 Sheriff Gusman also
claims that no prisoners were left alone for more than one
day,17 and that “the inmates were fed and supplied with
water.”18 This last, astounding claim appears in an article
entitled “What Really Happened At Orleans Parish Prison
in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.”19 The Sheriff’s
office spokesperson wrote the article, which quotes Sheriff
Gusman, but no one else.
At one point, Sheriff Gusman reportedly said, “jailers
served 21,000 meals a day and had enough in storage to feed
the entire population during the crisis.”20 Deputy Chief
William Short, who was on duty in HOD during the storm,
made the wild claim that “in the House of Detention we had
three walk-in coolers full of hot dogs, hamburgers and
chicken. . . . We emptied a warehouse full of food and dispensed it throughout the jail. We had cases and cases of
water.”21 After reviewing more than 120 testimonials by prisoners who were in HOD during the storm, and speaking
with a half dozen deputies who also were in that building, we
found no corroboration for Deputy Chief Short’s account.
The most similar accounts came from two deputies in the
building. Deputy Ducre reports that on the mezzanine level,
Assistant Warden Bonita Pittman had about fifty cases of
water and ice in a cooler for herself and her family when the
rest of the deputies, their family members, and all of the pris-

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oners were already evacuated.22 Another deputy similarly
complains about the conduct of Assistant Warden Pittman
during and after the storm:

She wasn’t worried about whether or not we ate. . . .
She was trying to get a personal boat to get her family
out of there. They just treated us like dirt. They had
Kentwood jugs. . . . [Y]ou know those big jugs of
water. Warden had those things stockpiled when no
one else had any. She’d only give them to her family.
You got to think about the little kids and babies other
people had. If she cared, she would have helped the
other people out. But she’s calling people in to be at
work and then don’t want to help them. People had
little kids and new born. . . . [I]t was just terrible.
23

“KKK” spraypainted on a
dumpster
outside Jena
Correctional
Facility

PHOTOGRAPH © 2005
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

Jena employee
painting over
“KKK” dumpster following
HRW visit to
the facility

VIII. PROBLEMS AT RECEIVING
FACILITIES
From Interstate 10, OPP evacuees were bused to prisons
and jails throughout Louisiana. Most female prisoners were
sent directly to Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, while
thousands of men were transported to the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, Louisiana. After spending
several harrowing days at Hunt, the men were further dispersed to over three-dozen facilities across the state, and
some were sent to the Federal Correctional Institute in Coleman, Florida. At many of these receiving facilities, their
abuse and mistreatment continued.
State and local officials cannot be excused for the chaos
that the OPP evacuees endured during Hurricane Katrina.
However, their failure can be understood, in part, as the
product of poor planning in the face of the greatest natural
disaster in this country’s history. That many of these evacuees endured continuing abuse and neglect at their receiving
facilities is a reflection of the larger crisis in the Louisiana
criminal justice system. The racism and violence that these
prisoners describe should have no place in any prison. However it is still very much a reality in many facilities throughout
the state. In the case of these evacuees, state and local officials
not only failed to abide by constitutional and human rights
standards, but also failed the test of human compassion.
A.

Elayn Hunt Correctional Center

The Elayn Hunt Correctional Center is located approximately seventy miles northwest of New Orleans, and was
not damaged as a result of the storm. On arrival, the OPP
evacuees were given food, water, and a blanket, and were
placed on fields inside the prison’s grounds. The fields had
very limited shelter, so thousands of men remained in the
open, even after it began to rain. Although some of the men
were transported out of Hunt shortly after their arrival,
thousands spent days in Hunt’s muddy fields.

PHOTOGRAPH © 2005
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

73

1. Rampant Assaults of Prisoners Abandoned on the
Football Field “The most unsafe conditions that I’ve

been exposed to in prison.”1
For the OPP evacuees, conditions at Hunt were nothing
short of terrifying. When the first OPP evacuees arrived,
they were placed on several small yards. When it began to
rain, many of the men were consolidated onto a single field
surrounded by a fence. Armed guards watched over the prisoners from towers and from behind the fence. The guards
established a gun line along the length of the fence which
prisoners were not permitted to cross.
Prisoners were not separated by offense. Pre-trial
prisoners arrested on public intoxication charges were held
side-by-side with convicted felons. Municipal, state, and federal prisoners were also mixed together on a single field. Prisoners who were previously housed for good reason in
protective custody were suddenly placed on the field with no
protection at all. Given their sheer numbers, the evacuees
found themselves sitting on a powder keg. One man describes
his time at Hunt as “the most unsafe conditions that I’ve
been exposed to in prison.”2
Violence broke out all over the large yard at Hunt. One
man writes that on the yard, “people [were] getting stabbed
for they food and the guards just let it happen. Guys were
constantly fighting and stabbing each other up all day we
could not really sleep because we had to watch ourselves all
the time.”3
Instead of intervening to control the prisoners, Hunt
guards remained outside the fence. One man reports that
after he was stabbed on his left wrist by another prisoner, “I
went for help [and] the guards pointed their guns at me & told
me to leave or I would be shot at.”4 Many prisoners report
that they joined groups in order to gain protection. One prisoner “saw one young man . . . get his face ‘cut up’ so bad that
the flesh was hanging from his cheek and forehead.”5 He
states that “[y]ou had to be within a group in that environment, because if you went to sleep, someone had to be awake
to watch your back, it was just that brutal.”6

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R O N N I E LEE M ORGA N, JR.

I’m standing there in the pouring rain, with blood flowing
down my face and neck, while the Hunt guards
uring the storm, I was in the
House of Detention building,
in the 8th Floor CLU (Southside). I
am a federal inmate in protective
custody, and I was being held in a
cell without any cellmates. We
were locked down on the Saturday
before the storm, and stayed
locked down for days without food
or water. I had a small jar of peanut
butter that I had bought through
commissary, but that didn’t last
long. On Monday morning during

D

the storm, the building was shaking. I was never really sleeping, I
just passed out a bit because of
the heat. At times, deputies came
by to talk to us. Through the window I saw fires in Templeman III,
and I also saw a guy being
dragged off of the razor wire while
guards were firing into a hole in a
building. On Thursday, DOC guards
came on the tier throwing guns in
our face. They told us to leave
everything there, because it would

watched me staggering in visibly enormous pain!

be there when we got back. I tried
to get my legal paperwork, but a
guard pulled his gun on me so I left
it there. I lost all of my legal work. I
also lost baby pictures of my
daughters, and the storm took the
pictures that their mom had. My
daughters are now 9 and 11 years
old, and that whole memory of
them as babies is gone now.
I was taken under the Broad Street
Overpass where I boarded a bus
that took us to Hunt Correctional
Center. Before we got off the bus,
the Warden got on, and we were
telling him that we were federal
U.S. Marshal prisoners, and that
some of us were under protective
custody and needed a special tier.
He told us not to tell anyone else,

and we told him to look at the bold
white letters on our sweatshirts
that read “FEDERAL.” The Warden
said he didn’t care, and he sent us
out onto a yard that was filled with
what looked like several thousand
state inmates.
The guy who had been in the cell
next to me said he couldn’t go on
the yard, because he could see his
enemies out there. He was also an
inmate in protective custody. He
walked onto the yard and got
stabbed all over his face. Blood
was like a waterfall out of his face.
He ran to the guards and they shot
at him and then stripped off his
clothes. He was a really lightskinned black guy, and his face
was bleeding so bad he looked like

a peppermint. They ended up
slamming him into the back of a
truck like meat. I don’t know if he
lived or what, but he was pretty
bad off.
I wasn’t on Hunt yard more than 30
minutes, and I was beaten and
stabbed one time in the head and
one time in the back of the neck,
by several gang members. I had to
retreat to the guards, who stood
on the other side of the fence and
laughed, when I asked them for
help! I’m standing there in the
pouring rain, with blood flowing
down my face and neck, while the
Hunt guards watched me staggering in visibly enormous pain! On
top of all that, I had to stay awake
all night, walking around with
clothes that were drenched in both
water and blood, with no medical
attention at all: zero! I still have scars
from where I was stabbed.7 ■

75

Many prisoners recount what may be a single incident in
which one prisoner was jumped by a group of prisoners and
was badly injured. The prisoners’ descriptions follow:

I experienced a guy getting “stabbed” in the face and
stumped by a “gang” of young men. The victom then
ran to the gate crying out for help. As blood protruded down the mid-section of his face. At the point
of his presence he was told to go back into the yard.
After fearing for his life he refused to follow the
guards instruction to return to the yard. As he cried
out for help he was shot with a (plastic bullet) in the
abdomen then the guards open the gate, maced him,
cuffed him, and placed him face-down on the back
flat bed of a pick-up truck. And rode off with him.
8

Me personally was walking into the yard when they
had a white inmate trying to walk out the yard with
his face and head all bloody, looks to me he had been
stabbed several times, while he’s trying to come out
the yard a officer is yelling at him to get back in the
yard, but the man is trying to talk to the officer, so
then the officer fires a shot at the man with a shotgun
from point blank range.

offenders with violent offenders who were on murder
charges, rape, and robbery. Then what made it even
worse was while in Orleans Prison if they had a gang
fight or a despute between inmates they would separate them. But when we got to Hunt, they put every
one on one big yard together. Inmates who had previous run ins with enemys once again had the chance
to get revenge or even kell they foe. Yes they had sexual assaults, even brutal and physical assults between
inmates. The non violent offenders were either getting beat up on, robed of valuables, sexual assulted
or jumped by violent charged inmates while the supperior stood back and did nothing it was to uncontrolable.
13

A local newspaper contacted Hunt officials for comment on
the reports of violence among OPP evacuees. Reporters
were not allowed to speak with the officials, and were instead
directed to Cathy Fontenot, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections who was not at Hunt following the
storm.14 Nevertheless, Ms. Fontenot denied all claims of violence by prisoners at Hunt. Instead, she commented that
“[t]he word that comes to me when I think back to that day is
docile.”15

9

2. Lack of Food

I seen guys getting stabbed. I don’t know anyone personally, but I saw fights break out on numerous
occasions. You could hear shots in the air, but no
guards came down to do anything about it. I heard
guards say stuff like “they are a bunch of animals, let
them kill themselves. They are from New Orleans.”
One white guy was bloody, ran for help past the gun
line, and was shot in the leg. I am pretty sure he was
white or Latino. I saw that he was shot with something that drew blood—I think it was live ammo. . . .
After the white guy was shot he was taken out of there
and that was the last I saw of him.
10

These reports appear to be corroborated by the DOC’s technical assistance report, which acknowledges that on one
occasion “a warning shot was fired and an attack dog used to
get an inmate and extract him from the yard after he had
been beaten, and another inmate was shot with rubber bullets when he ran towards the perimeter fence.”11
Many of the men also witnessed prisoner-on-prisoner
rapes in the field at Hunt. One man writes: “Everywhere you
looked there were fights, people getting stabbed, people getting raped also. Everybody was mixed together. Murderers,
rapists, even a death row inmate were allowed to walk freely
amung people who were only in jail for traffic tickets or disturbing the peace.”12 One man held on a probation violation
writes that conditions at Hunt were chaotic

for the simple reason that they mixed non violent

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“They were throwing sandwiches in the crowd like
they were in New Orleans, at the Mardi Gras!”16
Although OPP evacuees were handed a sandwich when they
first arrived at Hunt, food was delivered more haphazardly
after the men were placed on the yard. Hunt guards threw
bags of sandwiches over the fence into the crowd. Some of
the men describe Hunt’s efforts as dehumanizing. “[W]e
were fed like animal’s instead of humans. Hunt’s started
throwing sandwiches over the fence to us.”17 Another writes,
“[t]hey feed us on top of a fork lift throwing food to us like we
were animals.”18
Hungry prisoners fought one another for food. One man
writes: “When we was finally given food they took bags with
one or two sandwiches and threw them over a barbed wire
fence, and you had to fight for it like dogs. If you didn’t eat,
you just went hungry.”19 One 53-year-old man held on a
parole violation reports: “When we first got there sandwiches
was issue the first day. After that, everyone had to fight to get
a sandwich, they were very disorganize, handling the situation . . . most of us older guys did without food and water
while there because guys was fighting, cutting each other, the
deputies was just looking and laughing. They were throwing
sandwiches in the crowd like they were in New Orleans, at
the Mardi Gras!” 20
Speaking months after the storm, Ms. Fontenot admitted
that the prisoners at Hunt were supposed to receive meals in
the dining hall, but the kitchen was shut down because it
could not handle preparing food for the huge number of evacuees.21 “We fed those inmates the best that we could,” she said.
“We could not feed them hot meals like they’re used to.”22

3. Lack of Medical Attention
B.
Prisoners at Hunt were not provided with proper medical
attention, in part because no medical records or medications
from OPP were transferred with them.23 Many chronically ill
prisoners who had already gone days without receiving their
medications did not receive them when they arrived at the
prison. One man writes that he saw “one old man who was
real sick, and they told us to wrap him up in a blanket and set
him down by the gate. Where he sat for hours before they
finally literally dragged him away.”24 At least one prisoner
suffered a stroke while sitting in the yard.25
Other prisoners were denied medical attention for
injuries they suffered after being assaulted in the yard.
“Thousands of people fighting for food. A lot of people was
passing out on the yard fights and stabing was going all
around me and the deputies didn’t come to the yard to stop
them or to treat anyone for stabing.”26
Many of the prisoners developed rashes and skin infections as a result of wading through contaminated floodwaters
and being exposed to the sun. OPP’s Medical Director, Dr.
Inglese, later commented that the floodwater was so toxic
that it stripped all of the skin off his chest. “I even treated
deputies with trench foot, something people used to get during World War II. The skin was peeling off of their muscles.
That’s how bad it was in that water.”27 One deputy recalls
taking a bath in CCC using water from the nearby Kentwood plant, and receiving medication on the Overpass
because he had been in the water for so many days.28 By contrast, OPP evacuees received no antibiotics on the Overpass,
and none when they arrived at Hunt. Moreover, at Hunt
they were not allowed to shower or change out of the clothes
they had been wearing since before the storm hit New
Orleans. One man writes that he “had all kind of swores on
me from being wet so long. I had sun burn all over my body.”29
Paul Kunkel, a special education teacher at an elementary school in Ohio, was arrested days before the storm on
public intoxication charges. While in OPP he developed an
eye infection that grew worse at Hunt. In a letter to a friend,
Mr. Kunkel writes:

Bossier Parish Maximum Security Jail

“I never thought I see anything like this in my life.”33
From the yard at Hunt, some of the men were transported to
Bossier Parish Maximum Security Jail (“Bossier”). Although
the facility was designed to hold maximum-security prisoners, all of the evacuees transferred there were minimum- to
34
medium-security prisoners. At the time of the storm, Bossier
was still two months away from its projected opening, which
meant that control systems had not been tested, supplies had
not been stocked, and staff had not been hired.35 In preparation for the 500 OPP evacuees who would be headed to the
facility, Bossier officials reportedly procured only 300 mattresses.36 Because only 40% of the staff who were needed to
operate the jail had been hired, Bossier cobbled together a
staff from around Louisiana.37 According to Ken Weaver,
Bossier chief deputy of corrections: “We had some people
who had never worked in a facility—probation and parole
officers. . . . We put them through a quick course on how
things operate.”38
Dozens of OPP evacuees complain that the officers at
Bossier regularly beat and maced prisoners without cause. In
many cases, the assaults appear to have been racially motivated. Whereas the pre-Katrina population of Orleans Parish
was 66.6% African-American, and 89.3% of the prisoners at
OPP were African-American, Bossier City is located in
northwest Louisiana, by the Texas and Arkansas borders.
Census data shows that only 22.7% of the population in
Bossier City is African-American.39
One prisoner, who was seventeen years old at the time of
the storm, says of Bossier: “We were being maced and having
racial remarks told to use by several guards. I was only there
for about 2 weeks and I was maced 6 times. They feed us
small portions of food, barely enough to live on.”40

We lived in 90 degree-plus sun with no protection
from the elements. One day it poured and the
ground was all wet and muddy. We were given one
blanket and we were freezing at night. My right eye
was still infected and I can no longer see very well
because my contacts had to be taken out. Inmates
were stealing blankets and convicts were armed with
homemade knives. It was like a concentration camp.
I [was] very afraid.
30

For some, the experience at Hunt was just as bad, if not worse,
than the experience inside OPP. One man writes: “I hope in life
this will not happen to me again it was like a nightmare. . . .This
is going to stick with me all the days of my life . . . I was just on
a probation hold waiting to go to court on a change of
address.”31 According to another prisoner, “[w]hen it was all
over I felt my life had been put on danger for a second time.”32

77

TIMOTHY ORDON
My neck, I can’t fully turn left or right

I was not

given medical attention until 5 or
6 days later.

hen we arrived here we first
went to the Bossier Maximum Security Jail, we opened the
place up, it was a new jail that was
not due to open until Nov. I think.
Anyway from the time we was put
into cells things took off from there.

days we were sprayed with pepper
spray and beat up.

. . . [W]hat I meant by things took
off from there, is that once they got
us into them cells they kept us in
them cells, didn’t let us out to use
the phones or shower. You know
we had to walk in chest high water
“contaminated water,” sit on a
bridge with no water, etc. etc. . . .
well anyway, we were kept in the
cell for about 4 or 5 days before
they let us out 1 cell at a time to
shower and use the phone. We
had to do all this in fifteen minutes.
Now during them 4 to 5 days,
longer for some, but during them

right I was not given medical attention until 5 or 6 days later. Once the
beating was over, one Bossier officer got in my ear whispering “lil
nigger boy, you know where the
F—- you at, we don’t play that shit
out here, you ain’t in New Orleans.”
. . . [T]hen they started hitting on
me some more, they dragged me
to the hole by my feet, pull my
cloths off and put me in a cold ass
cell butt naked then about 30 minutes later they put another dude in
the cell with me ass naked and
beat up pretty bad also.41 ■

W

I was beat badly my right leg (knee)
is still given me problems. I have
not receive a full range of motion.
My neck, I can’t fully turn left or

One of the men at Bossier was arrested two weeks before the
storm on a parole violation. He writes that at Bossier “we
was treated bad, cause we was prisoner of Orleans Parish.
We wasn’t hostile, but they treated us as we was, beating us,
if we didn’t do anything to they liken. Treating us as if we
wasn’t human beings. . . . I don’t put this on my worst
enemy.”42

was in OPP at the time of the
storm because of traffic violations. I think one was for a stop
sign, and I also had unpaid tickets.
I have never gotten into any serious
trouble with the law. Back in the
middle of July I went to court and
the Judge told me I owed $700.
He said if I didn’t have the whole
$700 I would go to jail for 60 days. I
said I could pay $100 now and
$100 per month after that, but they
sent me to jail.

I

They brought me to Orleans Parish
Prison, where I was on the Receiving Tier for about three weeks. I
think they are only supposed to
hold you there for 72 hours. Three
weeks without a change of clothes
or nothing. On the Receiving Tier
there are two man cells, but they
had four people per cell. People
were sleeping everywhere—on the
floors and on the tables. I slept on
a mat on the day room floor for the
first couple of days until I found
myself a bed.
Eventually they moved me to Templeman II (Unit F-2). A few days
before the storm our phones cut
off. Later the power cut off when
we were watching TV and hearing
about the evacuation. After the
power cut out they brought a whole
other tier onto our tier, which made
it extra crowded. No food, no light.
Once the power cut out you couldn’t get water or flush the toilet.
I was in the building for maybe two
or three days until deputies came
and got us. Where I was, people
weren’t breaking much stuff, but
we were talking about how we
were going to die, and about how
they’d left us. A couple of times
when fights were close to happening, people would break it up. If
you looked out the windows all you
saw was water. Houses under
water, cars under water. We saw
inmates in other building hanging
sheets out the window that were
on fire. We saw others on top of

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IVY R. GISCLAIR
My release date was September 9th, which was a few days
after I got to Bossier. When that passed, I told one of the
guards that my release date had passed and

asked if

there was anything I could do to
get out of here.

other buildings, but I don’t know
how they got there. One time I saw
guards go onto a roof and throw
an inmate into the water to a boat
where other guards could get him.
We also saw a group of maybe six
inmates on a roof and one of them
jumped into the water and swam
to a boat filled with guards. When
he got there they pulled him into
the boat and started kicking and
punching him. Later, when they
evacuated us to Central Lock-Up,
we saw that same inmate standing
on the outside of the glass when
you walk out of Central Lock-Up.
He was handcuffed, leaning
against the glass, all beat up. His
face was swollen, he was bleeding, and his shirt was off. We were
asking him questions and that’s
how we found out he was the guy
we had seen jump into the water.
We asked the guards why they
beat the guy up, and they were
telling us that he was trying to
escape. You’re going to tell me that
man was trying to escape when he
swam straight to them? That man
was trying to save his life.
The same day I got to the Broad
Street Overpass, I got on a bus that
took me to Hunt. At Hunt they just
threw everyone in the yard to sleep
in the grass—in the sun and the
rain. When we got there they gave
us one sandwich. I stayed there a
couple of days; I don’t know
exactly how long. At Hunt, that is
when things really started getting
bad, with stabbings and rapings
and fights on the yard. I witnessed

The guy in the cell with me said he
couldn’t breathe and wanted to
get out of the cell; he was feeling it
just from being in the same cell
with the pepper spray, and it didn’t
even hit him.

a bunch of fights, I couldn’t even
count. I seen people get stabbed. I
almost got into fights numerous
times because people cliqued up
with each other when they got on
the yard. If you went by yourself,
people messed with you.
The guards couldn’t control it at
Hunt. They were only around the
outside of the perimeter, so they
couldn’t see what was going on
inside all of those inmates. A few
times the guards shot straight into
the crowd. I heard people talking
about people who got hit, but I
never seen anybody. I don’t know
what they were shooting, but people were saying it was beanbags.
After that I was transferred to Plain
Dealing, Louisiana—Bossier MAX.
That place wasn’t even supposed
to be open, so they didn’t really
have a staff. They had regular
police officers and stuff acting as
guards. My release date was September 9th, which was a few days
after I got to Bossier. When that
passed, I told one of the guards
that my release date had passed
and asked if there was anything I
could do to get out of here. He
blew up on me and started cursing
me out. I started cursing him back,
and that was when he pepper
sprayed me through the food slot
in my cell. The pepper spray hit
me, but I picked up my blanket
and got all the way in the corner,
where the pepper spray couldn’t
hit me anymore. I had never been
hit with pepper spray before. I
couldn’t breathe; I couldn’t see.

That guard later came back with a
whole crowd of guards, including a
big bald-headed white guy who
seemed to tell all of the other
guards what to do. From outside
the cell they told the dude in the
cell with me that when they
opened the cell, he should come
out. I could see that they were
pointing a red light from a Taser at
me, and when I saw that I knew
they were going to come in and
beat me up. I got on my knees with
my hands on my head to show
them I wasn’t going to cause any
problems. They walked in the cell
and the big guy shot me with the
Taser. When he stopped shocking
me, the other guards all jumped on
me and put handcuffs and leg
shackles on me. Then they started
beating me. Those wires from the
Taser were still stuck in me, one in
my chest and one in my stomach,
so when he told them to get off me
he started shocking me again, saying shit like “you like that, you like
that!” He did that three times,
where he would shock me and
then let them beat me up and then
start shocking me again.
I blacked out and woke up alone in
a cell with no clothes on at all.
There was a rack for the bed, but
there was no mattress. The only
thing in the cell was the rack, a toilet and toilet paper. They were saying things to me like “You New
Orleans niggers think you so bad.”
They also said “you all are animals.
I’m gonna put you in the woods
with the animals.” They called New
Orleans “Thug City.” I’m American
Indian, but my skin’s brown, so I
guess they thought I was black.
In the isolation room it was freezing
cold. You didn’t have a mattress or

blanket and it was cold as hell,
because you were sleeping on
steel. Sometimes I slept on the
floor, depending upon what was
warmer at the time. They fed you
three times a day like everyone
else, but no one would talk to me
in there. The Bossier inmates or
whoever who would bring the food
wouldn’t answer any questions.
When I asked questions the guards
would tell me to shut the fuck up
and throw my food into the cell so it
would fall onto the ground.
I was in that isolation cell for about
a week when the guy who shot me
with the Taser came and talked to
me. He asked me if I had calmed
down and if I would act right. I told
him I didn’t do anything wrong—all
I did was ask the guard a question
and then he got mad at me and
pepper sprayed me. The next day
they brought me back to general
population and gave me back
some clothes.
I was released around September
24, when Hurricane Rita hit. When
we first got to Bossier they took our
orange OPP jumpsuits and gave us
their own clothes. When I was
released they took their clothes
back and gave me the OPP clothes
to go home in. They were releasing
me and one other guy, and they
drove us to the Lamar Dixon Expo
Center in Gonzales, Louisiana. The
Center said they couldn’t take any
more people there, so the guy who
was driving us called his boss who
said they couldn’t bring us back to
Bossier.
They left us at a Shell gas station in
our OPP jumpsuits, fit to get shot
by anyone who thought we had
escaped from jail. They put my
mom in danger because she had
to drive all the way from home
through Hurricane Rita to come
get me there. I had money in my jail
account back at OPP, but I never
got any of that and have never
heard anything about it.43 ■
79

Another man, arrested on public drunkenness charges and
held on fines and fees, writes that he suffers from cerebral
palsy: “[A]t Bossier they are treating us like slaves locking us
down letting us out the cells when they feel like letting us out
starving us feeding us like little children, the little food we do
eat be cold. They beat an inmate for nothing brutally beat
him for nothing. I never thought I see anything like this in my
life. I be praying to God to let me make it home safe to my
family.”44
C.

Ouachita Parish Correctional Center

Other prisoners were transferred from Hunt to Ouachita
Parish Correctional Center (“Ouachita”). Evacuees at Ouachita express shock at the level of racism displayed by the
correctional officers. One prisoner calls Ouachita:

racist to the ‘T.’ I mean from the slurs, to the hospitality, to the food service, I mean I don’t feel that
these people care of our well-being at all. . . . We get
tazed, maced and bean bagged on a regular basis,
and I know that these deputies hate us because they
tell us everyday. They even slide us our food on the
floor, the same way you would feed a dog!”
45

Another man explains that he was “in total shock” at the
treatment he received at Ouachita.46 “The racism segregation, lack of personal hyigene and outright hatred that I and
my fellow inmates recieve on a daily basis is only something a
prisoner of war experiences. The threat of violence and mistreatment is always over our heads.”47

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VINCENT NORMAN

n August 24, 2005, I was
stopped by the police and
arrested on a warrant for failure to
appear in court and a $100 fine. I
was supposed to be released at an
August 31 hearing, after serving a
total of seven days and paying my
fine. On the Friday afternoon
before the Hurricane, Orleans
Parish Prison stopped releasing
people from the jail. I got my last
full meal on Saturday morning, and
phones were cut off that evening.
On Saturday night, deputies put all
of us in two-man cells. I was in
Templeman III (Unit B-2), and there
were a total of eight men in my cell.
When I asked a guard when they
would come back, the guard
maced my cell. They had no regard
for anyone, they were just concerned with themselves. If you

O

I’ve never experienced blatant racism—never seen it like
that. After going through what I’ve been through

wonder if I’ll ever been the same.
us, not knowing if you would see
your family, not knowing if you’d
see your friends—it was just not
knowing. When the rescuers
arrived I was still locked in my cell
and they had to pry the bars open.
I walked out in chest deep sewer
water, and was led to a boat that
took me to the Overpass.

asked a question, just a basic
question, like: “when do I get my
meds, when do we get to eat,”
they would mace the cells.

From the Overpass I was taken to
Hunt’s Correctional, where I spent
48 hours on the rec yard in hell. It
was like a P.O.W. camp. They had
triple murderers mixed in with guys

By Monday there was at least eight
feet of water on the bottom tier, but
I was in a cell on the upper tier.
Some of the inmates were able to
open their cells, but my cell door
did not open. I witnessed several
inmates with various medical conditions suffer from dehydration—

that had never been in prison
before—traffic violations, public
drunkenness. I witnessed several
stabbings and beatings that were
neglected by prison personnel; on
one occasion after being attacked
by inmates, an inmate ran for help
and was shot by guards. We were
forced to bathe in a water hose

we were forced to live off toilet
water, and lie in our own waste and
bodily fluids. We were drinking out
of toilets because that is all we
had. The worst part was not knowing if someone would come find

I

and there were no bathrooms to
use. I am ashamed to write this,
but I hadn’t had proper hygiene
since Saturday morning, so you
can’t imagine the ungodly stench. I
would not wish this on my worst

seen it like that. After going through
what I’ve been through I wonder if
I’ll ever been the same. They used
to set the food trays on the floor,
and we would have to pick it up
from there. I asked why they did
that, and they said we were like
monkeys, and that’s what you do
with animals at the zoo.

After leaving Hunt’s we were
brought to Ouachita Correctional
Center, where the horrendous
treatment continued. Ouachita was
a reminder of the old South—I was
exposed to overt racism, called
racial slurs, and subjected to physi-

In early November, my sister started
helping me get a court date. I found
out on December 2 that I had been
released, and I was transferred to
Hunt for processing and released
on December 5 in New Orleans.
They had lost my clothing, so until I
reached New Orleans I just had
scrubs and sandals—it was very
cold. I was in jail for almost four
months on a $100 fine that I didn’t
even know I had to pay.

cal and mental anguish. I saw segregation and outright inhumane
events. We started out getting
some hygiene products, but it went

People need to know what is happening behind closed doors. It’s a
whole other world. You got people

enemy. When it was all over I felt
my life had been put in danger for a
second time.

downhill and then there was no
hygiene at all; they treated us like
second-class citizens. The guards
cast judgments on us, treating us
like we were all the same. They
wouldn’t talk to the inmates, and if
we asked questions we would be
maced or beanbagged. One of the
Lieutenants once said: “I could
treat you like men or I could treat
you like what you are.” When I
asked, “and what’s that?” he just
rolled his eyes at us. Ouachita
needs investigation. I’ve never
experienced blatant racism—never

in for being drunk in public to murderers, but once they close the
doors they treat everyone like shit,
all the same: guilty until proven
innocent. It’s not just what happened at OPP; there is inadequate
representation also. The public
defender meets you at 8am, and
goes to trial at 10am. They don’t
know you as a person. They are
tryin’ to move you through ‘cause
they got 300 to 400 other cases
that week. There is no representation—if you are indigent, you are
screwed. 48 ■

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One man explains:

I have been beat, tazed, maced, sprayed with pepper,
bean bagged, spit on, almost bitten by a dog several
times, cursed out, called niggers, monkeys, animals
and other racist slurs. I have been deprived of all my
priveledges and some of my rights, put in rubber
rooms, stripped naked and sprayed down with pepper. They gave us one of everything in clothes and
nothing else, they didn’t let us communicate with
nobody or each other they cut our hair with unsanitized clippers . . . . They slide our food to us on the
floor through a slot . . . . They think all of us in here
are killers and they tell us, since we kill people and
think we can get away with it then they can treat us
any way they want and get away with it. That
nobody gives a damn about us and we all are gonna
die here and their gonna bury us out back where their
parents use to bury our parents. Now you know their
talking about slavery and if that’s not discrimination
I don’t know what that is.
49

Another prisoner recalls one occasion when three deputies
“beat the piss out of him, using their hands and stomping on
him. They then took him out of the dorm. He came back
maybe two days later.”50 That same day, this prisoner
reports: “[T]hey did that for maybe 4 or 5 other people. . . .
This was not standard prison violence. They said they didn’t
know what we were all in there for, so they said they would
treat us all like we were murderers until they knew. So they
treated us like high risk inmates.”51
D.

Jena Correctional Facility

The experience of the Orleans and St. Bernard Parish prisoners in the days and weeks after Hurricane Katrina was
hardly unique. In fact, prisoners from neighboring Jefferson
Parish also spent days in their facility without food, water, or
electricity. Just as DOC was finally called in to evacuate the
prisoners trapped in OPP, DOC officers evacuated the Jefferson Parish prisoners beginning on the Tuesday after the
storm. They were taken to the Jena Correctional Facility
(Jena), where prisoners who had been stranded in Calcasieu
Parish Prison in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita joined
them. For many of these prisoners, their evacuation to Jena
was viewed as the rescue they had been awaiting. In reality,
the evacuation to Jena only marked the beginning of a new
nightmare.
Jena was formerly a privately-run juvenile correctional
facility that was shut down in 2000 following a U.S. Department of Justice investigation that revealed widespread abuses
there. Youth at the facility were “being deprived of food,
clothing and medical care and were routinely beaten by
guards.”52 The state reopened Jena within a day or two after
Katrina to house evacuated prisoners, and staffed the facility
with correctional officers from other state prisons, most of

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whom came from Louisiana’s David Wade Correctional
Center. The state requested additional assistance in staffing
the facility, and officers from New York City’s Rikers Island
Correctional Facility—the country’s second-largest jail—
came to help.53
The prisoners, who had already suffered the trauma of
the storm itself, and the delay in their evacuation, were
wracked with worries and uncertainties about what had
become of their homes, their families, and their friends. They
were loaded onto buses to Jena for a ride that took several
hours, their wrists cuffed tightly together with plastic tiewraps. Keith Dillon, a prisoner from Jefferson Parish Correctional Center, describes the ties being so tight that prisoners’
wrists started to bleed.54 Scarring was visible on the wrists of
over 100 prisoners nearly one month after the transfer,
according to one attorney who interviewed the prisoners.55
Some prisoners were injured when one of the buses en route
to Jena got into a serious accident when the bus driver fell
asleep; the cuffed prisoners could not brace themselves when
the bus hit an electrical pole.56
According to prisoners interviewed by private defense
attorneys and by attorneys with HRW and LDF, corrections
personnel subjected them to egregious physical and verbal
abuse almost immediately after they arrived at Jena. Within
the first three days, officers pulled nearly all of the prisoners
from their beds in the middle of the night and forced them to
remain face down on the floor; some men were held in this
position for up to eight hours. If the men moved or raised
their heads, the officers would hit and kick them. One man
who turned his head after falling asleep was kicked in the
face by a guard to wake him up, and then told to put his face
back down.57
During their stay at Jena, prisoners were slapped,
punched, beaten, stripped naked, hit with belts, and kicked
by corrections officers. When prisoners broke prison rules
such as moving when told to be still, or not moving quickly
enough, officers often responded by hitting and kicking the
men and threatening to whip them. For example, two prisoners who had been in a fight were handcuffed. One of them
was taken to an isolation cell. When he arrived at the isolation cell, the officers dropped him to the ground and punched
him. As he was lying on the floor, his mouth and nose bleeding, the prisoner was ordered to clean up his own blood. The
other prisoner in the fight was handcuffed, punched in the
chest and ribs, and slapped in the face.58Another man was
badly beaten by an officer who kicked him in the head and
slammed his face against a wall because he did not get out of
bed quickly enough one morning. “This is a living nightmare
for me,” he later commented. “I know this isn’t legal.”59
As another measure of control, on multiple occasions
detainees were ordered to kneel and press their noses to the
wall, and they were kicked in the head if they moved. They
were often kept kneeling for hours at a time.
The detainees, most of whom were African-American,
were subjected to degrading treatment and racist slurs by the
correctional officers, most of whom were white. One guard
told a detainee, “I can’t stand none of you motherfuckers
from New Orleans.”60 Another guard grabbed a detainee by
the hair (before his head was shaved) and called him a “mophead motherfucker.”61 Other terms reportedly used by the

officers included, “niggers,” “boy,” “monkeys,” “bitches” and
“pussy-ass motherfuckers.”62
At one point in their stay, several prisoners were
told to line-up, place their hands behind their heads and press
their groins against the buttocks of the prisoners in front of
them. An officer taunted them, saying: “Hard dicks to soft
ass! I know y’all are getting hard, because I am.”63

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KEITH M. DILLON

I was slammed down to the floor,
handcuffed behind my back and
a third officer came over and
he abuse started immediately
making inmates go to their
knees for hours while handcuffed.
On or about the third day, a DOC
Warden and DOC deputies along

T

with LaSalle Parish Sheriff’s
deputies came in with dogs, riot
gear, etc., beating inmates down,
forcing us to the floor face down. I
was hit in my back because my
hands were at my side, not in front
of me. I saw a LaSalle deputy slam
a guy from Annex D in Jefferson
Parish face down into the floor,
knock two of his teeth out, then
make him lick up his own blood. I
could hear them beating people,
people yelling, and if you looked up
you got beat. After about 6 hours
face down freezing, they started
shaving our heads. We were told if
one person messes up then the
whole dorm pays.
They started beating inmates and
verbally abusing us. Making us
strip down and stand in line “dick
to ass” (as one deputy said) with
our elbows straight forward, our
hands clasped behind our heads.
They would make us go to chow
that way and come back, standing for up to three hours at a time.
They would feed 80 men in 10-15
minutes, from the time we lined
up to the time we got back to the
dorm. We heard from the trustee
that FEMA sent all kinds of food
and drinks, etc. for us, but that
the deputies were taking it all for
themselves.
Lake Charles inmates came they
didn’t touch them, while everyday
some one got beat, put on their
knees for hours, slapped around,
just abused period. On some days,
one New York DOC official would

84

kicked me more than 20 times in
my back.
have his people dress in full riot
gear and march around and down
the halls just to freak us out. One
person said, “we’re going to show
you boys how we do it in NY.” It

him and tell him and he would kick
me again in the back, and my face
would hit the wall. I could hear
them beating the other person also.
All of a sudden everything stopped.

was like we were practice dummies for these sickos in this sick
ordeal. They were all just evil. It
was like you could see it in them. I
could feel it.

I was picked up by two of the officers and turned to face them, and
one of the officers punched me in
my right shoulder. When he saw
that it hurt, he punched me again in
the same spot, all 400 pounds of
him. Then I was dragged off past
the dorms to lock down.

On 9-27-05 I was in the chow line
at Jena. The person in front of me
got out of line so I moved up; then
he came back and got in front of
me. I tried to let it go but this is jail
and respect is important, plus this
situation had got us all kind of nuts.
So I told him, “You’re not getting
back in front of me. Move. You left
the line.” He said he’s not a punk so
I gave him the chance to move. He
didn’t so I grabbed him and moved
him into the door. One of the officers saw what happened and
yelled something in the hall. I let the
guy go, but the officer grabbed me
and then another officer came over
and punched me in the side of my
head. The other person and I were
dragged to the back of the hallway.
I was slammed down to the floor,
handcuffed behind my back and a
third officer came over and kicked
me more than 20 times in my back.
One of the officers said, “they can
see” meaning that the rest of the
dorm could see, and then said,
“bring him back here.” So I was
picked up and slammed down
again. The officer who kicked me
asked what happened over and
over, and each time I would look at

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

When I got to lockdown, there
were DOC deputies everywhere.
The other guy was further in than I
was and they were working him
over. I was told by a Lieutenant to
turn and face the wall on my
knees. I was forced down and then
hit in my head. The Major arrived
and by this time I’m hurting bad.
But I know that if I fall down they’ll
stomp me to death so I hang on.
The Major starts asking me, “What
are you doing? Ain’t you too old for
this shit? How old are you? What
did I tell y’all? That if any of you
fucked up you would get the shit
beat out of you?” I would answer
him and each time I did he would
hit me on both sides of my head,
one side, then the other. On about
the fifth blow to my left side, my
hearing stopped but I didn’t go
down. I would look him straight in
his blue eyes and answer. He hit
me about 12 times. I could see his
hands were red. One of the Lieutenants said, “You should have
given him more,” and hit me three
more times to the side of my head.

I was stripped naked and put in a
cell, last one on the left. The other
person was across from me and a
guy whose head they fractured
was next to me, I think.
I passed out I guess because the
door opened and the Lieutenant
and a nurse were there. They
asked me what happened and
asked to see my hands for open
cuts from fighting. I showed them
and said there was no fight, no
punches thrown between me and
the other person. She said then
how did this happen? I said looking
at the Lieutenant, “I can’t really
say.” He smiled. She said that it
had to happen somehow. I said
again that I couldn’t really say. The
next day the nurse came around
and I told her I couldn’t hear out of
my left ear and what kind of medical professional was she to condone this abuse? She said she
didn’t condone it and I said, “but
you’re letting it happen.”
A while later Rachel Jones and
other defense attorneys showed up
to talk to us about our criminal
cases. I told her just like the other
inmates did what was going on—all
80 of us in a 40-man dorm did. I
showed her and Christine Lehmann
my face and the sides of my head
and ears, but after they left the
abuse continued. On 10-4-05,
NAACP LDF and Human Rights
Watch showed up. I talked to them,
showed them my head and there
were still bruises on my head and
my ears. Two days later I was
called to leave that hellhole. On the
way out, the Major said, “Hey Dillon, I want you to have a good
fucking life, whether you can hear
me or not.”64 ■

Soon after their arrival, all the men at Jena were forced to
have their heads shaved, which is not a standard corrections
procedure in Louisiana. Prisoners had no contact with the
outside world for the first few weeks they were at the facility.
They were unable to use the telephone and only after two
weeks were they given writing materials to send letters to
their families. In short, they had no way to let their families
know where they were or even that they had survived the
storm. None of the men were allowed to see their attorneys
during their stays in Jena.
In another incident, a prisoner who was with a group of
other men asked the warden when they were going to be able
to contact their families. The warden responded, “Motherfucker, do I look like I care?” 65 The warden ordered an officer to “lock this stupid motherfucker up,” and he was placed
in isolation.66
Prisoners at Jena were also denied adequate medical
care. They were unable to get medications, including antidepressant and antipsychotic medications, which they had been
prescribed. It took more than two weeks for a doctor to begin
visits to the facility and for two nurses to begin reporting from
9 to 5 each day to administer medication.
Detainees repeatedly requested grievance forms to make
complaints about their treatment but never received any
forms. In one instance, a guard handed a detainee a sheet of
toilet paper in response to his request for a form.67
It was not long before reports of abuse at the Jena facility began to leak outside of its walls. Four attorneys from a
group of 30 volunteer defense lawyers in Louisiana, coordinated by attorney Phyllis Mann, visited the Jena facility and
interviewed each and every detainee. Prisoners gave numerous accounts of the abuse they suffered, which were then
submitted in the form of affidavits to the state and other interested attorneys.68
In response to these allegations, both HRW and LDF
made a follow-up visit to the facility to interview prisoners
and officials, and they heard the same accounts of horrific
abuse. Almost every prisoner whom HRW and LDF interviewed reported that he had been hit or kicked by the prison
staff. The men were frightened and some were even crying
during the interviews. One said, “I don’t know what they’ll
do to me once y’all leave here.”69 The New York Times and the
Los Angeles Times each ran stories detailing the accounts of
abuse emerging from the Jena facility.70
Prison officials responded by denying the allegations.
During their visit to Jena, lawyers from HRW and LDF
interviewed Major Brad Rogers, the state corrections official
in charge of day-to-day operations at Jena. Major Rogers
said that officers had not used excessive force at the facility
and that the staff were all “trained professionals.”71
On October 1, LDF contacted Louisiana state legislators
and the Superintendent of State Police, Colonel Henry Whitehorn, about the abuse allegations at Jena. One day later, on
October 2, HRW called on Richard Stalder, the Secretary of
Louisiana’s DOC, to conduct an investigation into the allegations.72 Shortly thereafter, Secretary Stalder ordered that the
facility be shut down and prisoners be dispersed to other facilities throughout the state. Despite the rapid closing of the facility and national media coverage of the alleged abuse, the state
has not disclosed whether or not it has opened an inquiry.

E.

Not All Bad

Although the evacuation of thousands of prisoners from
southeastern Louisiana placed a strain on many officials at
the state’s receiving facilities, not all of them responded to the
challenge with abuse and indifference. For instance, hundreds of women from OPP were transported to Angola, an
all-male, maximum-security facility that typically holds over
5,000 prisoners. When the first OPP evacuees arrived at
Angola, one staff member recalls that they looked as if they
had arrived “directly from hell.”73 Despite the fearful reputation that Angola has earned over the years, many women
evacuees praised the treatment they received.74 In fact, many
of the women noted that they were treated better at Angola
than they had been treated at OPP prior to the storm.
One woman writes: “At Angola they took very good
care of us. They took all our information, clothed & fed us,
gave us many personal supplys. (OPP gives NO personal
supplys.)”75 Another woman writes that when she arrived at
Angola, she “received food, water, clothing, medication
Hepatitis shot to make sure we did [not] get exposed to anything. Also the gave us personal needs and last but not least I
was giving a bed with sheets & blankets. The people at
Angola treated us 100% good if it wasn’t for them rescuing us
we would have been dead today.”76 At Angola, writes
another female prisoner: “[T]hey trust us like real women,
and really care about how we feel. So we’ve been bless ever
since. Everything we needed, since we came to L.S.P.”77
Some of the men also report good treatment at Angola.
One disabled prisoner, who spent days in a van on the Overpass, writes that Angola

treated myself and the other handicap inmate real
good. They gave us beds hot meals 3 times a day.
Shower every night clean clothes, hair cuts every
week if you wanted one, I can’t say anything about
Burl Cain and his guards. They was real nice to us.
They even went as far as putting us in there new
church they built we have a nice big T.V. so we could
watch the new’s.
78

85

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AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

Tents designed
to house 800
prisoners
currently under
construction

IX.BUSINESS AS USUAL: THE
RETURN OF PRISONERS TO OPP
When Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans,
many parts of the city and the surrounding region were virtually wiped out. In the year since the storm, the city of New
Orleans, the state of Louisiana, and the country have
engaged in a sometimes heated debate about how and,
indeed, whether to rebuild New Orleans.
In a perverse turn of events, some viewed the creation of
a temporary jail facility at a Greyhound Bus Station near
downtown as the first step to rebuilding New Orleans.
Angola’s Warden Burl Cain declared the makeshift jail “a
real start to rebuilding this city.”1 But the problems endemic
to the local criminal justice system certainly were not solved
by the storm, nor did the rebuilding of a jail cure them. After
the waters receded, Sheriff Gusman quickly began the
process of refilling OPP. When much of the city was still
assessing whether it was safe to return to flood-ravaged
areas, the Sheriff was moving people back into the jail.
A.

The Sheriff Prematurely Reopens OPP

On October 17, 2005, Sheriff Gusman reopened HOD, one
of the oldest of the twelve OPP buildings. Since October, several others buildings have been reopened to warehouse New
Orleans’s constant flow of arrestees. The Sheriff reopened
these buildings without putting into place the most basic safeguards for the health and well-being of the men and women
housed there.
Rather than working with the Mayor and City Council
of New Orleans to ensure the prison buildings were safe
before they were reopened, the Sheriff hastily moved toward
repopulating his jail. The Sheriff recently boasted that in his
rush to reopen HOD—a building owned by city, not the Sheriff’s office—he “just ignored the city. . . . I just couldn’t wait
for them.”2 In doing so, the Sheriff appears to have circumvented essential procedures that were used throughout the
city to repair and clean flood-damaged buildings.
In the one year that has passed since Hurricane Katrina,
the City Council has not held a single hearing to discuss
problems associated with the evacuation of OPP, the apparent absence of an emergency plan at the reopened jail, and

87

recurrent complaints about current conditions at the jail—
including reports of a recent, apparently preventable prisoner
death. The ACLU of Louisiana has twice called upon the
City Council to hold hearings on the Sheriff’s decision to
reopen the prison buildings.3 In both requests the ACLU

reminded the City Council of its “obligation to do what it can
to protect the lives and safety of the prisoners and staff at
OPP, and to ensure that institutional failures during Hurricane Katrina are not repeated.”4

DOING “KATRINA TIME”:
INDIGENT DEFENDANTS LANGUISH IN JAILS AND PRISONS THROUGHOUT THE STATE
Long before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the indigent defense system in Louisiana was essentially broken. In 1993, the Louisiana Supreme Court concluded that there was “a general pattern . . . of chronic underfunding of indigent defense programs in most areas of the state.”5 According to one study issued 11 years after
the Louisiana Supreme Court decision, the state’s indigent defense system continued to deliver “ineffective, inefficient, poor quality, unethical, conflict-ridden representation to the poor.”6 Recognizing the problems of a systematically underfunded indigent defense system, the Louisiana Supreme Court acted again in April 2005,
ordering that any given prosecution may be halted if appointed counsel is not provided with adequate funds.7
Following Hurricane Katrina, the entire criminal defense system in New Orleans ground to a halt.8 Although public
defenders are needed to represent 85% of the individuals arrested in New Orleans, the public defender office
was for years funded almost entirely by fees attached to traffic fines.9 With no revenue in the months after the
storm, the office quickly lost 75% of its attorneys, leaving thousands of New Orleans prisoners stranded in facilities across the state without any access to counsel whatsoever.10 A study by the U.S. Department of Justice
(“DOJ”) concluded that due to the collapse of the indigent defense system in New Orleans:
[p]eople wait in jail with no charges, and trials cannot take place; even defendants who wish to plead guilty must
have counsel for a judge to accept the plea. Without indigent defense lawyers, New Orleans today lacks a true
adversarial process, the process to ensure that even the poorest arrested person will get a fair deal, that the government cannot simply lock suspects [up] and forget about them.11
Many of the OPP evacuees spent months in prison on minor charges without seeing a lawyer or appearing in
court to answer the charges against them—for many of these individuals, by the time their case was brought to
the court’s attention, they had already served more time in prison than they ever would have received had they
been found guilty. Prisoners also remained incarcerated for months after their release dates had passed, notwithstanding the fact that on September 8, 2005, Sheriff Gusman produced a list of OPP prisoners that contained
release dates for them. Through painstaking work, a small group of local defense attorneys worked throughout the
year to identify these individuals and file motions and petitions on their behalf seeking their release.12
From September 2005 until June 2006 there were no criminal trials in New Orleans.13 Once the court building
reopened, a new series of problems emerged. Judges often struggle to get witnesses or jurors to appear for trials, and the number of courtrooms available is inadequate to conduct all necessary hearings.14 Although OPP
was reopened shortly after the storm, the Sheriff quickly filled the jail with new arrestees as well as state and federal prisoners. Because there was no bed space at OPP, evacuees who waited nine or ten months to appear in
court were stuck in facilities all around the state, unable to return to Orleans Parish to attend scheduled court
hearings. While new arrestees often appear in Magistrate Court without an attorney,15 it has become commonplace in the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court for incarcerated defendants in DOC custody to be the only
people missing from the courtroom. According to Calvin Johnson, Chief Judge of the Criminal District Court,
New Orleans has “a limited number of jail spaces, and we can’t fill them with people charged with minor offenses
such as disturbing the peace, trespassing or spitting on the sidewalk. . . . I’m not exaggerating: There were people in jail for spitting on the sidewalk.”16
In an effort to open more bed space at OPP so evacuated parish prisoners do not miss court dates, Chief Judge
Johnson issued an order on May 17, 2006, requiring that all persons charged with municipal or traffic offenses
be released and issued a citation to appear in court on a later date.17 The New Orleans Times-Picayune’s editorial board calls Johnson’s approach “the proper course.”18
In March 2006, New Orleans’s population only stood at 155,000.19 By late May, as many as 150 were entering OPP
each day.20 With fewer court dates and almost no public defenders available, the court system is woefully backlogged—approximately 6000 cases have stacked up without any movement, according to the Orleans Parish District Attorney.21The rush to reopen damaged OPP buildings, the high number of continuing arrests, and the lack of
trials, have combined to create a prison complex that is an overcrowded, unsanitary, and inhumane human warehouse. “For the vast majority of arrested individuals,” according to the DOJ study, “justice is simply unavailable.”22
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1. No Evacuation Plan Can Be Located
Three days before the Sheriff reopened HOD, the ACLU
posed a series of questions to him regarding the reopening of the
building. One question was whether there was a current evacuation plan for the jail, and whether the plan had been revised
since Hurricane Katrina.23 At a court hearing on October 17,
2005, the day HOD was reopened for business, the ACLU
obtained an order requiring the Sheriff to produce “the current
evacuation plan pertaining to the Orleans Parish Prison.”24
After two weeks, the ACLU wrote to the Sheriff asking
that he comply with the court order and produce the plan. The
Sheriff’s counsel responded by stating that he would “send . . .
the current fire evacuation plan when he can locate the officer
who maintains the Procedures manual.”25 Having received
nothing for ten more days, the ACLU filed a motion to hold
the Sheriff in contempt of the court’s order. In response, the
Sheriff’s counsel wrote to inform the ACLU that

the fire evacuation plan is in the possession of the Fire
Safety Officer for the Sheriff’s Office, Raymond
Fitzpatrick (who is a retired district fire chief). Mr.
Fitzpatrick has not been seen or heard from since
Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. In an effort
to locate the plan, we intend to break into Mr. Fitzpatrick’s locked filing cabinets at the House of
Detention. If it cannot be located there, that means it
is instead located in the Community Correctional
Center. No one is allowed into the CCC at this time
for health reasons.
26

With this letter, the Sheriff’s counsel admitted that nearly two
months after the Sheriff returned prisoners, staff, and
deputies to HOD, there was no Fire Safety Officer assigned
to the facility, no accessible fire evacuation plan in place, and
there was little expectation that such a plan would be produced in the foreseeable future. Moreover, the Sheriff’s counsel appeared to have made no effort to locate any current
evacuation plans aside from the fire evacuation plan. There
is no indication whether the patently inadequate two-page
Hurricane/Flood Contingency Plan that was purportedly in
place at the time of Katrina was revised in any manner.

2. Adequate Medical Care Is Not Available for
Chronically Ill Prisoners
Prior to the storm, emergency medical services were provided to
prisoners by Charity and University hospitals, two public hospitals in New Orleans. However, at the time HOD was reopened,
both hospitals remained closed.27 In light of the damage suffered
by many of the prison buildings, and given that many health

care staff and officers had not returned to New Orleans, the
ACLU asked the Sheriff to explain how the jail planned to provide prisoners with medical and mental health services.28
Those questions were in fact answered several weeks
later, when the Sheriff wrote to the New Orleans City Council to propose his new budget. In that letter, the Sheriff admitted that the “limited medical staff and equipment can’t
provide all of the services that are needed for dialysis, surgery, and the treatment of AIDS.”29 In light of the Sheriff’s
admission, it should come as no surprise that prisoners complain about current medical care at OPP. Prison officials
report that serious medical cases are taken to neighboring
hospitals several miles away, but one prisoner explains that
“you got to be ready to die” to be taken to the hospital.30
One prisoner recently described an incident in which
another prisoner who was supposed to be receiving medication:

threw up major beaucoup blood, purple blood,
pieces like the size of extra large jolly ranchers. . . .
Everyone thought he would die. We called deputies
and asked Ms. Thurman to get him out of here and
at first Thurman said medical wasn’t coming. She
saw the blood and everything and we convinced her
we need to get him out of there. He could barely
move. Blood around his feet at least 1/2 inch thick.
We had to mop it up when he left.
31

Another man who suffers from epilepsy complains that
when he informed deputies of his medical condition and
asked to be placed on a bottom bunk, he was beaten and
moved to another section of the prison.32
With the Medical Observation Unit of Templeman I still
closed, wheelchair-bound prisoners report they are now held
in areas of the jail that are not handicap-accessible. One such
prisoner held on the 10th floor of HOD filed a grievance with
Warden Pittman regarding problems he has had in navigating
through the jail. In his grievance he writes:

Warden Pittman, I’m sending this grievants to you
about some serious problems in having, I’m already
confined to a wheel chair with one leg. I have been
having trouble getting on and off the toilet and when
I have to shower I have to try and jump from one
chair to another to shower I really can’t help myself is
there some where close yall could send me that have
handicap rails in the showers and around the toilets
where I wouldn’t hurt myself.
33

The curt response provided by Warden Bonita Pittman reads
simply: “You are on a medical tier what you are requesting
does not exist in the jail facilities.”34

INCOMPETENT DEFENDANTS
By law, a criminal prosecution may not proceed in Louisiana if a court determines that the defendant is not mentally competent to stand trial.35 The state may attempt to restore an incompetent defendant to competence
through jail-based treatment, but that treatment may not exceed 90 days.36 At that point, if competency has not
been restored, the defendant must be transferred to the Feliciana Forensic Facility (“Feliciana”).37 Even before
Hurricane Katrina brought the New Orleans criminal justice system to a halt, mentally incompetent defendants
89

often languished in local jails for months waiting for a transfer to Feliciana. While in jail they received limited, if any, treatment for their mental health conditions.
Eleven days before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Tammy Sims was supposed to be released from OPP and
transferred to Feliciana.38 Ms. Sims had been arrested earlier in the month on a charge of public drunkenness,
and was being held on a one-year old solicitation charge.39 At an August 18, 2005 hearing, the trial judge concluded that Ms. Sims, who suffers from schizophrenia, was mentally incompetent to stand trial; he ordered that
she be transferred to Feliciana, where she was to receive treatment to restore her to competency.40 On the day of
the storm, Ms. Sims was still in OPP, and only a chance encounter with a Tulane law student long after the storm
led to her release 10 months later.41
Ms. Sims’s experience is not unique, though it is unknown how many incompetent defendants were, and still are,
languishing in prisons and jails throughout the state following Katrina. Many of these men and women may not be
receiving adequate treatment, nor is there any reason to expect that they will soon be transferred to a hospital or
other treatment facility, or that they will appear in court.

3. The Reopened Buildings Remain Damaged and in
Need of Repair
It is not surprising that the OPP buildings were heavily damaged following the storm. Water from the storm destroyed the
mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems necessary to
make many OPP buildings habitable. The water ruined surveillance equipment, shorted out electrical systems that manage the locking devices, and otherwise compromised basic
safety systems.42 Some of the buildings had enormous holes
in the exterior walls, through which men, women, and children had escaped the rising floodwaters. Prisoners housed in
HOD report that there has been no hot running water since
the building was reopened. In his letter to the City Council,
Sheriff Gusman admitted that he returned prisoners to two
buildings that “still require additional repairs and improvements to be brought to pre-Katrina levels.”43
One problem the Sheriff appears not to have addressed
is possible mold infestation. Following Hurricanes Katrina
and Rita, the Centers for Disease Control warned that
untreated mold will exacerbate asthma and can have serious
health effects, particularly for those who have other chronic
conditions.44 The CDC recommended that public officials
develop a comprehensive program to identify and repair
mold-infested buildings, which include any building that had
been water-logged for more than 48 hours, and to implement
a coordinated public health response to track and treat persons who suffer health effects from being exposed to mold.45
While the rest of New Orleans was becoming expert in mold
remediation, Sheriff Gusman said simply that the ground
floor of HOD was “kind of mothballed.”46
In March 2006, several prisoners mailed to the ACLU
samples of what they believed to be mold scraped from their
cell walls. Once tested, many of the samples were found to
contain various types of mold. Although the presence of mold
alone is insufficient to declare a health emergency, these samples strongly suggest that additional testing of the air in the
buildings and of mold collected from surfaces in the buildings
is warranted.
In addition to aggravating asthma, mold can affect the
immune system, cause flu-like symptoms and pneumonia, and
in some cases can lead to hepatocellular cancer.47 Some prisoners report suffering from cold and flu-like symptoms such
as headaches, nausea, and body aches most days they remain
inside the facility. One person reports nausea, fevers and diarrhea for four days,48 while another states that he had migraines

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and severe stomach pain.49 In March 2006, one prisoner who
mailed samples of mold collected from the Templeman V
building described his asthma as “increasing in severity.”50 In
his letter he names one prisoner who reportedly “contracted
pneumonya and is on 4 types of inhailers from asma attack’s
(sent to Hospital for x-rays[).]”51 The Sheriff refused to turn
over this prisoner’s medical records to the ACLU.

4. Severe and Sustained Overcrowding
The average floor in the House of Detention contains four
tiers (HOD Northside, HOD Southside, CLU Northside,
and CLU Southside). Each tier typically holds three ten-person cells, for a total designed capacity of 120. Inside of each
10-person cell are two toilets and five double-stacked bunk
beds. Prisoners report that they have been housed with up to
18 people in their cells. According to one man on the 3rd
Floor of HOD who was interviewed in June 2006, there are
16 men in his cell, 17 men in cell 1 and 14 men in cell 2.dclxi
The six men who are sleeping on the floor all have mats, but
one prisoner sleeping on a bunk had not had a mattress for
two weeks.53 Another prisoner explains that when prisoners
are placed in a cell in HOD, “some don’t even get mattresses
or blankets for a few days.”54 With people sleeping on the floor,
“[i]t is so packed upstairs that everyone has to shift themselves and their mattresses for one person to use the toilet.”55
In some cells, prisoners are forced to sleep alongside the toilets
because of the lack of space.56 Several prisoners report that
the floors are still filthy and soiled with urine from when the
toilets overflowed during the storm.57
Most of HOD is not air-conditioned. The building, which is
ten stories high and has small windows in the walkways outside
each cell, becomes oppressively hot during the summer. Across
from most cells there is a small window fan that circulates hot
air. For the men who are crammed into a cell at nearly double
capacity, the heat affects every aspect of their lives. According
to one man, “[i]t is so hot up there with all of those people that it
gets hard to breathe. Tensions run high and deputies don’t care
because they don’t have to live up there. It is an animal house
up there.”58 Another prisoner, an insulin-dependant diabetic living in a non-air conditioned medical tier, reports that there is
“[n]o air at all. Mad hot. The fans work but don’t really blow
nothing.”59Prisoners faced the opposite problem in the winter,
when they were returned to a building with windows that were
broken in the days after Katrina.60 One prisoner reports that in
February it was “too cold to shower.”61

T H E D E AT H OF KERRY
A N T H O NY WA S HINGT ON

Here, family friends and community members attend

erry Anthony Washington, 39

K

years old, was arrested on

April 25, 2006 by the Jefferson
Parish Sheriff’s Office. According
to Mr. Washington’s wife, Cheryl,
the two of them were engaged in
an argument and, although no violence had occurred, Mrs. Washington contacted the local police.62
Upon their arrival, Jefferson Parish
Sheriff’s deputies discovered that
Mr. Washington had an outstanding Orleans Parish warrant for failing to appear in court to answer a
charge of first-offense possession
of marijuana. They arrested Mr.
Washington and turned him over to
the Sheriff’s office.
After his arrest, Mr. Washington’s
wife telephoned or visited the jail
every one or two days to determine the status of her husband’s
case. Unsatisfied with being told
that Mr. Washington was being
held on a warrant, she visited the
clerk’s office of the criminal court,
where she was told that her husband had a court hearing sched-

a

vigil outside the prison building

emergency contact information,
and the addresses they had on file
did not produce results. This

where he died.
uled for May 12. On May 12, Mrs.
Washington went to the House of
Detention, where her husband’s
court hearing was supposed to
occur. Upon her arrival, she was
told that the hearing was not open
to the public. In the hopes of
catching a glimpse of her husband,
Mrs. Washington stayed around
for a little while. Eventually she
went home. Later that night, Mrs.
Washington called Central LockUp and was informed that her husband had been released from the
jail at 5:30 pm.
After some time had passed without hearing from her husband,
Mrs. Washington drove to the jail,
thinking that her husband was
waiting for her to pick him up.
When she found that he was not
there, and she confirmed that he
had not called her, his mother, or
any of their friends, she drove to

son, Mr. Washington failed to provide

several bus terminals around the
city in search of him.
On Saturday morning, Mr. Washington’s mother—a Hurricane Katrina
evacuee now living in Georgia—flew
to New Orleans to help locate her
son. Melvina Washington went to
Central Lock-Up, where she met her
daughter-in-law. Both women again
were told that Mr. Washington had
been released the previous evening.
When Melvina Washington asked to
speak with someone else in Central
Lock-Up, and Cheryl Washington
asked to see documentation of her
husband’s release, a high-ranking
official in the Sheriff’s Office
informed the two women that Kerry
Anthony Washington had died two
weeks earlier, on April 29, 2006, just
four days after his arrest.

response does little to explain why
Mrs. Washington was not told her
husband had died during her daily
calls and visits to jail, nor has the
Sheriff explained why jail personnel
repeatedly misinformed Mrs. Washington about her husband’s wellbeing and his whereabouts.
In May 2006, family members and
supporters assembled outside the
jail to remember Mr. Washington’s
life and mourn his death. The
crowd shared in prayer and song,
and listened to testimonials from
Mr. Washington’s wife, mother and
children about how much he
meant to them and how deeply his
loss will be felt. The exact circumstances of Mr. Washington’s death
remain unclear. According to the
Orleans Parish coroner, Mr. Washington died “following a scuffle with
guards at the prison.”63 ■

According to the Sheriff’s spokesper-

91

Overcrowding is also a problem in the South White Street
jail, where most prisoners sleep in open dormitories filled
with row upon row of bunk beds. Prisoners estimate that
each dorm is equipped to hold approximately 90 prisoners,
but they now house in excess of 110 people. One man
explains: “The living conditions here are overcrowded. I’m in
a 90 man cell with maybe 115 to 120 people. I don’t think it
would pass the fire department code.”64 Another prisoner
reports that there are people sleeping on the floor.65 “Food it’s
bad, man. It’s bad in there. Food comes up short every day.”66
Rather than look to viable alternatives that would allow
New Orleans to maintain a smaller, safer jail, Sheriff Gusman returned to a solution from yesteryear to alleviate his
overcrowding problems. Directly across from HOD, construction has begun on a series of eight tents that are intended
to house 100 prisoners each.67 If history is any indication of
what is to come, there is no telling how long this “temporary
minivillage of barracks-style jails” will remain in use.68
B.

The Decision to Reopen Orleans Parish
Prison: The Business of Incarceration

It is not difficult to understand why the Sheriff quickly
reopened the facility and returned prisoners to his jail. By
agreement, the city of New Orleans pays the Sheriff’s office
$22.39 per day for each local prisoner OPP houses.69 Before
the storm, this amounted to roughly $100,000 per day. The
state pays the Sheriff $24.39 for each state prisoner he houses
at the jail, with a $7.00 premium per day for each state prisoner who requires mental health care.70 However, he receives
nearly twice that amount for housing federal prisoners,
including immigration detainees.71 This may explain why
thousands of local prisoners charged with minor offenses languished for months in state facilities without access to counsel, and without any chance of appearing in court, while
federal prisoners were among the first to be returned to OPP
following the hurricane. These individuals were held in Templeman V, an administrative building that reportedly did not
house prisoners before the storm, and was only put into use
because the majority of the other buildings were in far worse
condition post-Katrina. For 2006, the City of New Orleans
projects it will spend over $50 million to house prisoners, double what it spent just twelve years ago.72
Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriffs have consistently discussed the trafficking of prisoners in business terms. After
the number of state prisoners housed at OPP dropped
between 2000 to 2002, then-Sheriff Foti remarked: “If you
were in the stock market, you would call this a slow-growth
period.”73 Noting that the pay from housing federal prisoners
was significantly higher than from state or local prisoners,
Foti once said he “wishe[d] there were more high-profit prisoners.”74 Following Sheriff Foti’s departure, Interim Sheriff
Bill Hunter explained the “tight budgetary times” for the
Sheriff’s office by noting that “fewer inmates translates into
less revenue for the jail.”75 In fact, when the Sheriff’s office
requests payment from New Orleans for housing city prisoners, the “Invoice” refers to prisoners as units, and lists a
“Unit Price” of $22.39 per day.76
Despite the enormous cost to the city of housing all of

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these individuals, the finances of OPP are a mystery to local
and state officials. In fact, when the Sheriff presented the
City Council with his projected 2006 annual budget of
approximately $75 million, the document was a meager two
pages—the same length as the Contingency Plan.77 The
budget failed to breakdown any of the figures, including bigticket items such as personnel expenditures, which totaled
$39,910,562.78
This lack of accountability also allows the Sheriff to
have unparalleled control over the city’s largest patronage
base. In 2005, the sheriff had roughly 1200 nonunion
employees who served at his pleasure, exempt from the civil
service protections enjoyed by other city employees.79 The
Times-Picayune remarked that the electoral victory of current
Sheriff Marlin Gusman marked “his evolution from political
appointee to full-fledged politician with his own patronage
base.”80 According to Shana Sassoon, a member of the
Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition (“OPPRC”), “OPP
has long been a shameful centerpiece of New Orleans’ broken criminal justice system with its history of human and
civil rights abuses, fatal disease, and institutional violence.
It’s no coincidence that OPP has also emerged as a centerpiece of political power in New Orleans.”81
The return of prisoners to OPP also provided the Sheriff
with the labor force that his office has long used and abused.
In 1989, the Times-Picayune reported that private citizens
and companies could hire prisoners to perform work at minimum wage.82 From these wages, the sheriff would deduct living expenses, travel expenses, support costs of the prisoners’
dependents, and payment of the prisoners’ debts, with any
remaining money going to the prisoner. In mid-July 2006,
two OPP prisoners were improperly “loaned” to a contractor
in order to perform construction work on the home of a local
judge.83 Recently OPP built an aquaculture facility—run
entirely by prison labor—to raise about 600,000 to 700,000
pounds of tilapia per year.84 Prison laborers are often used as
political tools. When running for office in 2003, Marlin Gusman told the League of Women Voters: “I will work with the
city administration to reduce the burden on the general fund
and provide more prisoner labor to augment city services.”85
One factor that helped the Sheriff return prisoners to OPP so
soon after the storm is his use of prison labor to clean up the
facility. Persons charged with municipal offenses following
the storm reported that upon pleading guilty, they were
ordered to complete 40 hours of community service cleaning
up OPP buildings.86
If anything, Hurricane Katrina has accelerated the jail’s
exploitation of prison laborers who are paid pennies on the
dollar. After the hurricane struck, Sheriff Gusman promised
to make prisoners available to assist in the recovery. Given
the fact that the majority of prisoners had yet to be convicted
or were convicted of minor offenses, this use of prisoners
amounts to modern slavery—or a throwback to the notoriously racist convict-lease and state-use prison labor systems
that proliferated in the South after Reconstruction.

Aerial view of
prisoners on
the Overpass

PHOTOGRAPH: AP/WIDE WORLD PHOTO

X. CONCLUSION
Until now, the story of the prisoners at Orleans Parish
Prison has received short shrift. Like many of the stories that
came out of Katrina, theirs is one of survival. With few exceptions, the prisoners held in OPP in the wake of Hurricane
Katrina took care of one another. They worked to free fellow
prisoners trapped in cells filled with contaminated floodwaters, watched out for the frail and sick, as well as for juveniles too small to stand in the water without help. Without
food, water, light, or ventilation for days, the response of the
prisoners to chaotic, terrifying conditions was remarkable.
Many of the stories are also about racially motivated animosity on the part of prison officials, while all of the stories
are about the blatant disregard for the dignity that was owed
to each man, woman, and child trapped in OPP during and
after the storm.
The stories in this report are not, however, simply about
survival. Rather, they are stories of a criminal justice system
that has had serious problems for a very long time. The
abuse of prisoners at OPP and the inattention paid to their
basic needs existed long before Hurricane Katrina struck the
Gulf Coast. Likewise, the damage caused by the storm only
revealed how infirm Louisiana’s indigent defense system
already was.
It is important that these stories are told, so that they are
not forgotten. It is also important so that the mistakes chronicled in this report are never repeated. By instituting the recommendations at the beginning of this report, local, state and
federal officials can begin the process of bringing justice to
the OPP evacuees, while taking steps to ensure real public
safety by making OPP a safer, more humane, and more costeffective jail.

93

ENDNOTES

Executive Summary
1

News Staff, Looters Taking Advantage of Katrina Devastation, CTV, Aug. 31, 2005, available at
http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20050830_hurricane_katrina_050830/?hub=CTVNewsAt11.
2
Jeffrey A. Schwartz and David Webb, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the Louisiana Dept. of Public Safety and Corrections: A Chronicle and Critical Incident
Review, AN NIC TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE REPORT, Technical Assistance No. 06P1035 (May 10, 2006), 19.
3
Id. For an account of the sensational stories that were reported in the days following the storm, but have since been called into question, see generally Jim Dwyer
and Christopher Drew, Storm and Crisis: Lawlessness; Fear Exceeded Crime’s Reality in New Orleans, THE NEW YORK TIMES, Sept. 29, 2005. The spread of these
unsubstantiated rumors “changed troop deployments, delayed medical evacuations, drove police officers to quit, [and] grounded helicopters.” Id.
4
Peter Whoriskey, In New Orleans, Justice on Trial, THE WASHINGTON POST, Apr. 15, 2006.
5
In an effort to allow the prisoners’ own voices to come through in this report, we chose not to correct grammatical or spelling errors in the letters and testimonials that we received. The only changes we made to the original language were to obscure obscenities.
6
Compiled from Times Wires, Allegations of Neglect at Jail are “Fiction,” Sheriff Says, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, Oct. 6, 2005.
7
Richard Webster, Jail Tales: Sheriff Gusman, Prisoners Differ on Storm Evacuation Success, NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, Feb. 20, 2006, available at
http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=14735.
8
Sample questionnaires returned to the ACLU National Prison Project by OPP evacuees are available in the Appendix.
9
Orleans Parish is unique in that there is both a Civil Sheriff and a Criminal Sheriff. In this report, we will be dealing exclusively with the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office, which is currently led by Sheriff Marlin N. Gusman. For the remainder of the report, this office will simply be referred to as the “Sheriff’s
Office,” and Mr. Gusman will be referred to as “Sheriff Gusman.”
10
The authors of this report have obtained a copy of the report. Jeffrey A. Schwartz and David Webb, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the Louisiana Dept. of Public Safety and Corrections: A Chronicle and Critical Incident Review, AN NIC TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE REPORT, Technical Assistance No. 06P1035 (May 10,
2006) (hereinafter “NIC Technical Assistance Report”).
11
Analysis by the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center of Data Provided by the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office, (hereinafter “The LCAC Analysis”).
12
Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections, Quarterly Statistical Performance Report, Local Facilities Bedspace and Projections, 153, Mar. 25,
2005, available at http://www.corrections.state.la.us/Statistics/PDF_QSPR/C.pdf.
13
The LCAC Analysis.
14
Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office, Analysis of Daily Cost Per Inmate, 2003-2006, attached to Letter from Sheriff Marlin N. Gusman to Members of the
New Orleans City Council, Nov. 10, 2005.
15
Staff Reports, 6 Youths Detained on Curfew’s First Night, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), June 25, 2006. According to reports, juveniles are now being
housed on the third floor of an administrative building staffed by NOPD officers and Sheriff’s deputies. See Leslie Williams, Grant of Ride Request Brings Curfew
Jam, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), July 3, 2006.
16
Bill Rust, Juvenile Jailhouse Rocked: Reforming Detention in Chicago, Portland, and Sacramento, ANNIE E. CASEY FOUNDATION, Fall/Winter 1999, available at
http://www.aecf.org/publications/advocasey/winter99/juv/juv.pdf.
17
David Steinhart, Planning for Juvenile Detention Reforms: A Structured Approach, ANNIE E. CASEY FOUNDATION, available at
http://www.aecf.org/initiatives/jdai/pdf/1_planning.pdf.
18
Report Overview, Unlocking the Future: Detention Reform in the Juvenile Justice System, COALITION FOR JUVENILE JUSTICE, 3, available at http://www.juvjustice.org/publications/OverviewofAR03.pdf.
19
Executive Summary, Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Justice, COMMISSION ON BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCES AND EDUCATION, 2001, available at http://darwin.nap.edu/books/0309068428/html/7.html.
20
Letter from Jamie Fellner, Human Rights Watch, and Theodore Shaw, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., to Bradley Schlozman, U.S.
Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Oct. 7, 2005, available at
http://www.naacpldf.org/content/pdf/katrina/Letter_to_DOJ_Requesting_Jena_Prison_Investigation.pdf.
21
Letter from Chanetta Cutlar, Special Litigation Section, Department of Justice, to Jamie Fellner, Human Rights Watch, and Theodore Shaw, NAACP Legal
Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Nov. 1, 2005.

Section I
1

Hamilton v. Schiro, 338 F. Supp. 1016, 1016 (E.D. La 1970).
United States Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Bulletin, Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2004 at 10, April 2005, available at
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/pjim04.pdf.
3
Bill Van Siclen, Photos and Poems from Prison, PROVIDENCE JOURNAL BULLETIN, Apr. 14, 2005.
4
Barry Gerharz and Seung Hong, Down by Law: Orleans Parish Prison before and after Katrina, DOLLARS & SENSE, March/April 2006, available at
http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2006/0306gerharzhong.html.
5
U.S. Census Bureau, Louisiana: 2000 Population and Housing Unit Costs, United States Census 2000 (Oct. 2003) available at
http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2000/phc-3-20.pdf.
6
Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office, Analysis of Daily Cost Per Inmate, 2003-2006, attached to Letter from Sheriff Marlin N. Gusman to Members of the
New Orleans City Council, Nov. 10, 2005.
7
For the sake of simplicity, this report refers to all of the individuals being held in OPP as “prisoners.” The use of this term is not meant to suggest that all of the
individuals had been convicted of a crime and sentenced to serve time in a prison. On the contrary, as discussed above, most of the people in OPP were either pretrial detainees, federal immigration detainees, or individuals convicted of minor offenses that would typically result in incarceration at a local jail facility, rather
than a prison.
8
The LCAC Analysis.
9
See Hamilton Plaintiffs v. Williams Plaintiffs, 147 F.3d 367, 368-69 (5th Cir. 1998).
2

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10

The Wall is Strong: Corrections in Louisiana, 2d Ed. (1991) Ed. By Burk Foster, Wilbert Rideau, and Ron Wikberg, University of Southwestern Louisianan,
Lafayette, LA, 86 (originally part of Burk Foster, Prison Overcrowding: The Louisiana Response,” THE ANGOLITE, Mar./Apr. 1988).
11
Id. at 85.
12
Id. at 86; see also C.J. Schexnayder, What Price Incarceration?, GAMBIT WEEKLY, Nov. 19, 2002.
13
Susan Finch, Prison Neighbors Want Tents Out, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Dec. 16, 1992.
14
Id.
15
Id.
16
The Wall is Strong: Corrections in Louisiana, 2d Ed. (1991) Ed. By Burk Foster, Wilbert Rideau, and Ron Wikberg, University of Southwestern Louisianan,
Lafayette, LA, 86 (originally part of Burk Foster, Prison Overcrowding: The Louisiana Response, THE ANGOLITE, Mar./Apr. 1988).
17
Jeffrey A. Schwartz and David Webb, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the Louisiana Dept. of Public Safety and Corrections: A Chronicle and Critical Incident
Review, AN NIC TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE REPORT, Technical Assistance No. 06P1035 (May 10, 2006), 56.
18
Settlement Agreement, Hamilton v. Morial, Mar. 26, 2003. The payment of $24.39 per day per state prisoner is $2.00 more than the state pays other local
parishes for housing state prisoners. Id. For more on the state’s payments to local parishes to house state prisoners, see C.J. Schexnayder, What Price Incarceration?, GAMBIT WEEKLY, Nov. 19, 2002.
19
The LCAC Analysis.
20
The three programs that existed at OPP at the time of the storm were the Francois Alternative Center at New Orleans, the Blue Walters Substance Abuse
Treatment Program (Blue Walters South”), and the About Face Boot Camp Program.
21
Id.
22
La.C.Cr.P. Art. 887.
23
La.C.Cr.P. Art. 884.
24
Matt Gnaizda, Katrina Exposes Orleans Parish Prison’s Flaws, THE EPOCH TIMES, Oct. 16, 2005, available at http://www.theepochtimes.com/news/5-1016/33361.html.
25
Id.
26
Peter Whoriskey, In New Orleans, Justice on Trial, THE WASHINGTON POST, Apr. 15, 2006.
27
Id.
28
Id.
29
Long before the present OPP buildings were ever built, the jail in New Orleans was infamous for its deplorable conditions. In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville condemned the New Orleans jail, stating: “We saw there men thrown in pell-mell with swine, in the midst of excrement and filth. In locking up criminals, no thought
is given to making them better but simply to taming their wickedness; they are chained like wild beasts; they are not refined but brutalized.” George Wilson Pierson, Tocqueville and Beaumont in America (New York, 1938), 622.
30
Schiro, 338 F. Supp. at 1016.
31
Id. at 1019.
32
Id. at 1017.
33
Id. at 1018.
34
Id.
35
Id. at 1017. The court cited a series of violations that had been identified by the Fire Prevention Division of the New Orleans Fire Department. Those violations included the complete absence of fire alarm systems, insufficient and often inoperable fire extinguishers, and inadequate means of egress by which to evacuate detainees in the case of an emergency. Id.
36
Michael Perlstein, Hearing Set on Mothers in Jail; ACLU Reports Shackles in Labor, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), May 4, 1999.
37
Lambert v. Morial, No. 94-2502 (E.D. La).
38
Human Rights Watch, Locked Away: Immigration Detainees in Jails in the United States (Sept. 1998) Vol. 10, No. 1 (G), available at
http://www.hrw.org/reports98/us-immig/.
39
Id.
40
Id.
41
Doe v. Foti, No. 93-1227 (E.D. La).
42
Hamilton v., Morial, No. 69-2443 (E.D. La), Transcript, Record at 41 (May 7, 1993).
43
Id.
44
Order, Hamilton v., Morial, No. 69-2443 (E.D. La May 17, 1993).
45
See Williams v. McKeithen, CA No. 71-98-B (M.D. La. 1997) (available at Hamilton Plaintiffs v. Williams Plaintiffs, 147 F.3d 367 (5th Cir. 1998).
46
Fox Butterfield, Justice Besieged: New Orleans Juvenile Court System is Called Nation’s Most Troubled,” THE NEW YORK TIMES, July 22, 1997, A1.
47
Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, Treated Like Trash: Juvenile Detention in New Orleans Before, During, and After Hurricane Katrina, May 2006, 6, available
at http://jjpl.org/PDF/treated_like_trash.pdf.
48
Id.
49
Id.
50
Id.
51
Id.
52
Complaint, Jones v. Hunter, No. 05-2470 (E.D. La. June 17, 2005) ¶ 13.
53
Id. at ¶ 14.
54
Id. at ¶ 16.
55
WDSU, Orleans Criminal Sheriff’s Deputies Indicted in Inmate’s Death, June 2, 2005, available at http://www.wdsu.com/news/4562307/detail.html.
56
Tara Young, Murder Suspect Dies in Prison Ruptured Ulcer Killed Man, Coroner Says, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Oct. 14, 2004.
57
Bob Ussery, Jail Inmate Died of TB, Tests Show Officials Screen Those in Contact with Him, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Mar. 10, 2005; Gwen Filosa,
Medical Experts Give Jail Clean Bill; Health Care Up to Par, They Say, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), May 14, 2005.
58
Bob Ussery, Prison Inmate Dies in Hospital; Another Fell Fatally Ill in Late February, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Mar. 31, 2005.
59
Staff Reports, Inmate Dies on Dialysis; He Had a History of Medical Ailments, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), May 7, 2005; Inmate’s Death in Jail Cell
Raises Questions About Prior Complaints,” BATON ROUGE ADVOCATE, Apr. 24, 2005.
60
Staff Reports, N.O. Inmate Dies at Charity Hospital, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Jul. 16, 2005; Staff Reports, Orleans Inmate Dies After Seizure, THE
TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), June 9, 2005.
61
The man who appears to have died the day before the storm is Donald Landry. According to the DOC Inmate Locator service, Mr. Landry died at OPP on
August 28, 2005. Officials in the Sheriff’s Office have similarly confirmed that a prisoner died at the jail the day before the storm.
62
See generally, Complaint, Wilson v. Foti, No. 02-2244 (E.D. La. July 23, 2002); Hamilton v. Morial, No. 69-2443 (E.D. La. Dec. 23, 2003) (report and recommendation denying plaintiffs’ motion regarding deficiencies in mental health care delivery system in OPP).

95

63

Id. at ¶ 15.
Id.
65
Id.
66
Id. at ¶ 16.
67
Id.
68
Id.
69
Id. at ¶ 17.
70
Id.
71
Id. at ¶ 18.
72
Id. at ¶ 19.
73
Id.
74
Id. at ¶ 23.
75
Id. at ¶ 21.
76
Id. at ¶ 24.
77
Id.
78
Id. at ¶¶ 24-25.
79
Id. at ¶ 25.
80
Id.
81
Id.
82
Id.
83
Complaint, Bonnette v. Hunter, No. 05-1201 (E.D. La. Mar. 30, 2005) ¶ 42.
84
Id. at ¶ 21.
85
Susan Finch, 1969 Jail Psychiatric Care Case Closed ACLU Seeks Documents in Recent Suicide, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), June 10, 2004; Susan
Finch, Death Renews Prison Dispute ACLU Fights Rulings on Psychiatric Unit, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), June 8, 2004.
86
Complaint, Bonnette v. Hunter, No. 05-1201 (E.D. La. Mar. 30, 2005) ¶ 37.
87
Id. at ¶ 38. The belt that was left in the cell is commonly used to secure a prisoner’s torso when he is placed in five-point restraints. Id. at ¶ 33. Because Mr.
Bonnette was placed in four-point restraints, rather than five-point restraints, and he was theoretically supposed to be on suicide watch, there is no reasonable
explanation for this object to have been left in the cell.
88
Staff Reports, N.O. Inmate Dies After Hanging; Man Jailed in ’03 was in Mental Unit, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Aug. 4, 2005.
89
U.S. Census Bureau, Housing Patterns - Racial and Ethnic Residential Segregation in the United States: 1980-2000, ch.5, available at
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/resseg/ch5.html.
90
Human Rights Watch, Shielded from Justice: Police Brutality and Accountability in the United States, available at http://www.hrw.org/reports98/police/uspo93.htm;
Richard Pennington, The Thinnest Blue Line, THE NEW YORK TIMES, Mar. 31, 1996.
91
Human Rights Watch, Shielded from Justice: Police Brutality and Accountability in the United States, available at http://www.hrw.org/reports98/police/uspo93.htm.
92
See generally, Bruce Eggler, Independent Monitor Urged for N.O. Police; Brutality Complaints Revive 2002 Proposal, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Apr.
28, 2006; Stephanie Doster, Racial Profiling Law Lacks Teeth; Loophole Lets Police Off Hook, Some Say, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Dec. 16, 2001.
93
Press Release, ACLU Demands Release of Information on Racial Profiling and Use of Force by New Orleans Police, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, Apr. 6,
2006, available at http://www.aclu.org/racialjustice/racialprofiling/25030prs20060406.html.
94
Human Rights Watch, Race and Incarceration in the United States: Human Rights Watch Press Backgrounder, Feb. 22, 2002, tbl.4: “Percentage of Blacks Among
Resident Population and Incarcerated Population.”
95
United States Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Bulletin, Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2005 at 10 (May 2006), available at
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/pjim05.pdf.
96
Id.
97
Id. at 11.
98
The LCAC Analysis.
99
DeShaney v. Winnebago County Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 489 U.S. 189, 198-200 (1989).
100
U.S. CONST. amend. VIII.
101
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994); Youngberg v, Romeo, 457 U.S. 307, 315-16 (1982).
102
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 833-34.
103
Gates v. Collier, 501 F.2d 1291 (5th Cir. 1974) (finding the lack of fire equipment in the facility inadequate in the event of a fire). See Jones v. City and County of
San Francisco, 976 F. Supp. 896, 909-10 (N.D. Cal 1997) (finding it intolerable to house prisoners confined to a cell behind bars with no reasonable means of
escape or safety in an area where there was a high risk of an earthquake).
104
Ramos v. Lamm, 639 F.2d 559, 571 (10th Cir. 1980). See also Phelps v. Kapnolas, 308 F.3d 180 (2d Cir. 2002) (finding prisoner’s allegation that officials knowingly
provided him with an inadequate diet constituted a valid claim under the Eighth Amendment).
105
Helling v. McKinney, 509 U.S. 25, 32 (1993) (finding that inmates need not show death or serous illness occurred to prove unsafe or life threatening condition
in the prison). See DeSpain v. Uphoff, 264 F.3d 965, 974 (10th Cir. 2001) (finding that exposure to urine and feces resulting from flooding in the jail was a significant deprivation to raise serious health concerns and general standards of dignity embodied in the Eighth Amendment); Bradley v. Puckett, 157 F.3d 1022, 1025
(5th Cir. 1998) (holding that unsanitary conditions depriving the prisoner of basic human needs, exposing him to health risks was a valid claim for which the prisoner sought relief); Jackson v. Duckworth, 955 F.2d 21, 22 (7th Cir. 1992) (conditions where a prisoner was “forced to live with ‘filth, leaking and inadequate
plumbing, roaches, rodents, the constant smell of human waste, poor lighting, inadequate heating, unfit water to drink, dirty and unclean bedding, without toilet
paper, rusted out toilets, broken windows, [and] …drinking water containing small black worms which would eventually turn into small black flies,” constituted
an Eighth Amendment violation).
106
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103 (1976) (citing Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, 173 (1976)).
107
Farmer, 511 U.S. at 833-34 (finding prison officials acting with deliberate indifference if an official exposes a prisoner to substantial risk of sexual assault). See
Ramos, 639 F.2d at 572 (recognizing that the prison environment can be tense, explosive and potentially dangerous).
108
Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104. In his testimony to a Joint Committee of the Louisiana legislature, DOC Secretary Stalder acknowledged, “Indigent medical care in
the State of Louisiana is not required by the United States Constitution; inmate medical care is required.” Testimony of Richard Stalder, Secretary, Dep’t of Pub.
Safety and Corr., Oct. 10, 2005, Joint Comm.—Disaster and Recovery, Part 1, available at http://house.louisiana.gov/rmarchive/2005/Oct2005.htm.
109
Gates, 376 F.3d at 332 (5th Cir. 2004) (finding mental health needs to be as serious as physical health).
110
Some of these instruments are binding, while others are advisory. Binding treaties signed by the U.S. government that the federal government is bound to
implement at both the federal and state levels include: The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
(“CAT”), adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 39/46 of 10 December 1984, entered into force June 26,
64

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1987, available at http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/h_cat39.htm; the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (“ICCPR”), adopted by General
Assembly Resolution 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force Mar. 23, 1976, available at http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/a_ccpr.htm; and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (“CERD”),
adopted and opened for signature and ratification by General Assembly resolution 2106 (XX) of December 21, 1965, available at
http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/cerd.htm.
Many of the non-binding, advisory documents are, despite their advisory nature, widely followed by U.N. member countries. Among the most relevant are the
Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (“SMRs”), adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Geneva in 1955, and approved by the Economic and Social Council by its resolutions 663 C (XXIV) of 31 July 1957 and 2076 (LXII)
of 13 May 1977, available at http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/h_comp34.htm; the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners (“Basic Principles”),
adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 45/111 of 14 December 1990, available at http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/h_comp35.htm; and The
Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment (“Body of Principles”), adopted by General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988, available at http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/h_comp36.htm.
111
ICCPR Article 10(1).
112
Body of Principles Principle 15: “[C]ommunication of the detained or imprisoned person with the outside world, and in particular his family or counsel, shall
not be denied for more than a matter of days.” Principle 19: “A detained or imprisoned person shall have the right . . . to communicate with the outside world,
subject to reasonable conditions and restrictions as specified by law or lawful regulations.”
SMR 37 also suggests that such contact must be allowed: “Prisoners shall be allowed under necessary supervision
to communicate with their family and reputable friends at regular intervals, both by correspondence and by receiving visits.” More generally, SMR 57 provides:
Imprisonment and other measures which result in cutting off an offender from the outside world are afflictive by the very fact of taking from the person the right
of self-determination by depriving him of his liberty. Therefore the prison system shall not, except as incidental to justifiable segregation or the maintenance of discipline, aggravate the suffering inherent in such a situation.
113
Children have a right to maintain contact with their parents. Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted November 1989, “States Parties shall
respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis,
except if it is contrary to the child’s best interests.” Article 9.
114
SMR 8(d) clearly mandates “Young prisoners shall be kept separate from adults.” ICCPR Article 10(3) also mandates that “Juvenile offenders [shall] be segregated from adults” and that they “be accorded treatment appropriate treatment to their age and legal status.” (If untried, ICCPR Article 10(2)(b) requires that
“[a]ccused juvenile persons shall be separated from adults and brought as speedily as possible for adjudication.”) And SMR 85(2) provides that juveniles “shall
be kept separate from adults” and reiterates “they shall in principle be detained in separate institutions.” There are also relevant rules specific to children including the advisory Havana Rules adopted in 1990 and formally known as the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty.
Havana Rule 29 states “In all detention facilities juveniles should be separated from adults, unless they are members of the same family. Under controlled conditions, juveniles may be brought together with carefully selected adults as part of a special programme that has been shown to be beneficial for the juveniles concerned.”
115
SMR 20(1) and (2). The SMRs were among the first instruments of their kind to be promulgated by the U.N. They reflect generally accepted good principle
and practice in the treatment of prisoners and the management of institutions. Although there are still countries where implementation is more aspiration than
fact (including the U.S.), it is generally agreed that the SMRs have had a worldwide impact and they continue to be an important influence in the humane and
equitable administration of correctional institutions.
116
SMR 22(1) provides that “every institution” should make available “the services of at least one qualified medical officer,” and SMR 22(2) that if a prisoner
requires specialist treatment, that shall be provided too. Medical officers should see patients as soon as they are admitted and then care for them daily. SMRs 24
and 25. Additionally, the Body of Principles requires “a proper medical examination” to be offered “to a detained or imprisoned person as promptly as possible
after his admission to the place of detention or imprisonment and thereafter medical care and treatment shall be provided whenever necessary . . . free of charge.”
And, Principle 9 of the Basic Principles requires that prisoners have “access to the health services available in the country without discrimination on the grounds
of their legal status.”
117
SMR 10 states “All accommodation provided for the use of prisoners and in particular all sleeping accommodation shall meet all requirements of health, due
regard being paid to climatic conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation.” Also applicable is SMR
12, which provides “The sanitary installations shall be adequate to enable every prisoner to comply with the needs of nature when necessary and in a clean and
decent manner.” And SMR 13: “Adequate bathing and shower installations shall be provided so that every prisoner may be enabled and required to have a bath
or shower, at a temperature suitable to the climate, as frequently as necessary for general hygiene according to season and geographical region, but at least once a
week in a temperate climate.” Last, SMR 15: “Prisoners shall . . . be provided with water and with such toilet articles as are necessary for health and cleanliness.” Clearly, all these standards were flouted by the prison administration.
118
CAT Article 16 (“Each State Party shall undertake to prevent . . . acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment . . . when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”). Also, The Body of Principles provides in Principles 6 and 7 that “No person under any form of detention or imprisonment shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment.” “The terms cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment should be interpreted so as to extend the widest possible protection
against abuses, whether physical or mental.” Id. It also violates SMR 30(1) which provides “No prisoner shall be punished except in accordance with [relevant
administrative rules].” And SMR 30(2): “No prisoner shall be punished unless he has been informed of the offense alleged and given a proper opportunity of presenting his defence. The competent authority shall conduct a thorough examination of the case.” Finally, SMR 31: “Corporal punishment, punishment by placing
in a dark cell, and all CID punishments shall be completely prohibited as punishments for disciplinary offences.”
119
CERD Articles 2 and 5. Article 2(1) provides:
States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and promoting understanding among all races, and, to this end: (a) Each State Party undertakes to engage in no act or practice of
racial discrimination against persons, groups of persons or institutions and to ensure that all public authorities and public institutions, national and local, shall act
in conformity with this obligation; (b) Each State Party undertakes not to sponsor, defend or support racial discrimination by any persons or organizations; (c)
Each State Party shall take effective measures to review governmental, national and local policies, and to amend, rescind or nullify any laws and regulations
which have the effect of creating or perpetuating racial discrimination wherever it exists; (d) Each State Party shall prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, including legislation as required by circumstances, racial discrimination by any persons, group or organization; . . .
Also relevant is Article 5 of CAT which provides:
In compliance with the fundamental obligations laid down in article 2 of this Convention, States Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial
discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law,
notably in the enjoyment of the following rights: . . . (b) The right to security of person and protection by the State against violence or bodily harm, whether
inflicted by government officials or by any individual group or institution; … (e) Economic, social and cultural rights, in particular: . . . (iv) The right to public
health, medical care, social security and social services; . . .

97

The ICCPR treaty also applies to these violations. Article 26 states:
All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour . . .
And both SMR 6(1) and Principle 2 of the Basic Principles state: “There shall be no discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” Likewise, Principle 5 of the Body of Principles provides: “These principles shall be applied to all persons within the territory of any given State, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex . . . .”
This ill-treatment also violates the more general ICCPR Article 10(1): “All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for
the inherent dignity of the human person.” Similarly, it violates Principle 1 of the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners: “All prisoners shall be treated
with the respect due to their inherent dignity and value as human beings.”

Section II
1

Transcript of CNN Coverage of Press Conference, Aug. 28, 2005, available at http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0508/28/bn.04.html.
For a detailed account of Hurricane Katrina’s progression from a Tropical Depression to a Category 5 Hurricane, see The White House, The Federal Response to
Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned, 21-31, Feb. 2006, available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/reports/katrina-lessons-learned/index.html (hereinafter “The White
House Report”).
3
Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina, A Failure of Initiative, 59, Feb. 15, 2006, available at
http://katrina.house.gov/full_katrina_report.htm.
4
Id. at 63 (citing Letter from Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Governor of LA, to George W. Bush, President of the United States (Aug. 27, 2005)).
5
Id. (citing Louisiana: Emergency and Related Determinations, 70 Fed. Reg. 53,238 (Aug. 27, 2005, as amended Sept. 7, 2005)).
6
Id. (citing Letter from Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Governor of LA, to George W. Bush, President of the United States (Aug. 28, 2005)).
7
Id. (citing Louisiana: Emergency and Related Determinations, 70 Fed. Reg. 72,458 (Aug. 29, 2005, as amended Dec. 5, 2005)).
8
The White House Report, at 25.
9
Id. at 26.
10
Transcript of CNN Coverage of Press Conference, Aug. 28, 2005, available at: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0508/28/bn.04.html.
11
Id.
12
Id.
13
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, THE GREAT DELUGE: HURRICANE KATRINA, NEW ORLEANS, AND THE MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST 1 (HarperCollins 2006).
14
Id.
15
Id. at 1-2.
16
Id. at 2-3.
17
U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections, A Guide to Preparing for and Responding to Prison Emergencies, June 2005, at 3, available at
http://www.nicic.org/.
18
Id.
19
Id. at 17.
20
Id. at 18.
21
Id. at EP-50-51.
22
Id. at EP-61-63.
23
Id. at EP-72-73.
24
Id. at ND-1-4.
25
Id. at ND-13-14.
26
Id. at ND-16-18.
27
Interview with Glyendale Stevenson, June 6, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Interview with Glyendale Stevenson, May 24,
2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
28
NIC Technical Assistance Report at 15.
29
Id. at 12.
30
Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Corrections Services, Hurricane Katrina /Hurricane Rita Activity Report, Mar. 21, 2006, available at
http://www.marlingusman.com/KATRINA1%20RITA%20ACTIVITY%20REPORT.htm.
31
Michelle Gaseau, Corrections Emerges Strong Following Katrina, CORRECTIONS.COM, Sept. 12, 2005.
32
NIC Technical Assistance Report at 13.
33
Letter from Patricia Nally Bowers, to Katie Schwartzmann, June 29, 2006.
34
Richard Webster, Caught Off Guard: OPP Deputies Blame Sheriff for Hurricane Crisis, NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, Mar. 27, 2006, available at
http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=15123.
35
Id.
36
Interview with C.N., May 12, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
37
NIC Technical Assistance Report at 16.
38
Jason Brown and Kayla Gagnet, Prisoners of the Storm, THE DAILY ADVERTISER, Dec. 18, 2005, available at
http://acadiananow.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051218/NEWS01/512180326/1002.
39
Interview with Anonymous Employee, Oct. 11, 2005 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
40
E-Mail from Brady Richard, Former Medical Supply Officer to Katie Schwartzmann, ACLU of Louisiana, June 28, 2006 (E-Mail on File with the ACLU
National Prison Project); Interview with Brady Richard, Mar. 9, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Interview with Brady Richard,
Oct. 11, 2005 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
41
Letter from Joe Cook to Various State and Local Officials, Requesting Documents Pursuant to Louisiana State Law, Sept. 22, 2005, available at
http://www.aclu.org/prison/conditions/20190prs20050928.html. Human Rights Watch similarly made repeated requests to Sheriff Gusman’s office requesting
information about the evacuation plan that was purportedly in place during the storm. See, e.g., Letter from Jamie Fellner, Director, U.S. Programs, Human
Rights Watch, to Sheriff Marlin N. Gusman, Oct. 8, 2005, available at http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/10/08/usdom11907.htm.
42
Cook v. Gusman, Civil District Court, Parish of Orleans, No. 2005-12477. Prior to filing suit, the ACLU of Louisiana mailed a follow-up letter to Sheriff Gusman, again requesting a response to the Public Records Act request. No response to that letter was ever received.
43
Notation from Allen Usry on Letter from Joe Cook to Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Requesting Documents Pursuant to Louisiana State Law, Sept. 21, 2005,
available at http://www.aclu.org/prison/conditions/22359lgl20050921.html. Human Rights Watch received a similar response from the Sheriff’s spokesperson,
who informed them that the office of the person who may have had the plan on his computer took in “quite a bit of water” and was, at least temporarily, unavail2

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able. See Letter from Jamie Fellner, Director, U.S. Programs, Human Rights Watch, to Sheriff Marlin N. Gusman, Oct. 8, 2005, available at http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/10/08/usdom11907.htm.
44
Richard Webster, Caught Off Guard: OPP Deputies Blame Sheriff for Hurricane Crisis, NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, Mar. 27, 2006, available at
http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=15123.
45
Id.
46
Interview with R.P., May 12, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
47
Agence France Presse, Sheriff’s Deputy Tells How Prisoners Fell onto Barbed Wire, Sept. 4, 2005.
48
Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office Hurricane/Flood Contingency Plan (unsigned) (undated) available at
http://www.aclu.org/prison/conditions/22359lgl20050921.html.
49
Rene Lapeyrolerie, What Really Happened At Orleans Parish Prison in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, NEW ORLEANS TRIBUNE, Feb./Mar. 2006, 24.
50
Michael Perlstein, Prison Became Island of Fear and Frustration, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Sept. 23, 2005, available at
http://www.nola.com/weblogs/print.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_tporleans/archives/print082074.html.
51
Richard A. Webster, N.O. Prison’s Future in Question, NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, Dec. 19, 2005, available at http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=14229.
52
Minutes, City of New Orleans Hazard Mitigation Plan Kick-Off Meeting, Apr. 9, 2003, available at http://hazardmitigation.org/meetings.htm.
53
“While the levees in Orleans Parish along Lake Pontchartrain are expected to hold a 14 foot storm surge, there is the possibility of extensive flooding in Orleans
Parish from a Category 3 storm due to inflow of water from other parishes . . . . The worst flooding, over eight feet of water, would be in neighborhoods to the
west and east of City Park. Almost all of New Orleans between Lake Pontchartrain and Claiborne Avenue would receive four to eight feet of water.” GCR and
Associates, Inc., “Orleans Parish Mitigation Plan,” p. 13, available at http://hazardmitigation.org/ThePlan.htm. A map of the endangered areas is available at
http://hazardmitigation.org/graphics/Maps903/map13hurr.jpg.
54
Brad Hanson, Emergency Management Supervisor for the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, agreed to share with the National Prison Project
of the ACLU several evacuation/relocation plans and checklists, including one plan pertaining to flood emergencies at the Omaha Correctional Center.

Section III
1

The LCAC Analysis.
Although the Sheriff’s own figures indicate that 354 people were transferred from YSC, this may not be entirely accurate. The population that was transferred
from YSC consisted of male and female juveniles. A review of the Sheriff’s records suggests that some of the children are double-counted. According to a report
issued by the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, the total number of juvenile detainees at OPP during Katrina was approximately 150.
3
Gwen Filosa, Suspect Lost in Court System; Stuck for 10 Months, She Gets Out Today, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), June 12, 2006; Henry Weinstein, Katrina’s Aftermath; Justice System Faces a Deluge of Challenges, LOS ANGELES TIMES, Sept. 11, 2005, available at http://www.nacdl.org/public.nsf/mediasources/20050912a.
4
Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, Orleans Parish: People and Household Characteristics (based on data from 2000), available at
http://www.gnocdc.org/orleans/people.html.
5
The LCAC Analysis.
6
Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, Treated Like Trash: Juvenile Detention in New Orleans Before, During, and After Hurricane Katrina, May 2006, 7, available at
http://jjpl.org/PDF/treated_like_trash.pdf.
7
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #116, Oct. 14, 2006 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
8
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #138, Oct. 20, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
9
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #51, Oct. 19, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project). The decision to cut off phone access is just one
example of how decisions made by prison administrators aggravated conditions during this period. When the phones were cut off, prisoners became increasingly
anxious about the safety of their family members. While deputies were preparing to bring their family members into the prison buildings so that they could be with
them during the storm, the prisoners were denied any means of communicating with their family members.
10
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #51, Oct. 19, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
11
Testimonial Provided by Vincent Norman, Oct. 13, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Interview with Vincent Nelson, Apr. 18,
2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
12
Interview with Vincent Norman, Apr. 18, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
13
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #533, Nov. 5, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
14
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #167, Oct. 13, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
15
Declaration of Raphael Schwarz, Oct. 4, 2005.
16
Interview with C.F., Mar. 15, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
17
Id.
18
Interview with R.P., May 12, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
19
Interview with C.F., Mar. 15, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
20
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #541, Nov. 6, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
21
Id.
22
Id.
23
Interview with C.F., Mar. 15, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
24
Id.
25
Interview with R.P., May 12, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
26
Richard Webster, Orleans Parish Prison Inmates Say they were Mistreated as Katrina’s Floodwaters Rose, NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, Jan. 23, 2006, available
at http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=14517.
27
Matthew Crawford, Recovery Zone: Orleans Parish Sheriff Shares His Experiences After Katrina, CORRECTIONALNEWS.COM, May/June 2006, available at
http://correctionalnews.com/ME2/Audiences/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE
895F87F791&tier=4&id=3C4639CFDE1443D4B8BF8F1CDF028184.
28
Id.
29
Id.
30
Interview with C.F., Mar. 15, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
31
Interview with Rhonda Ducre, Mar. 15, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
32
Michael Perlstein, Prison Became Island of Fear and Frustration, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Sept. 23, 2005.
33
Interview with Renard Reed, June 22, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Interview with Renard Reed, June 20, 2006 (Notes on
2

99

File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
34
Interview with R.P., May 12, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
35
Interview with Rhonda Ducre, Mar. 15, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
36
Interview with Renard Reed, June 22, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Interview with Renard Reed, June 20, 2006 (Notes on
File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
37
Richard Webster, Caught Off Guard: OPP Deputies Blame Sheriff for Hurricane Crisis, NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, Mar. 27, 2006, available at
http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=15123.
38
Interview with C.F., Mar. 15, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
39
Interview with R.P., May 12, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
40
Interview with C.N., May 12, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
41
Matt Gnaizda, Katrina Exposes Orleans Parish Prison’s Flaws, The Epoch Times, Oct. 16, 2005, available at http://www.theepochtimes.com/news/5-1016/33361.html.
42
Richard Webster, Caught Off Guard: OPP Deputies Blame Sheriff for Hurricane Crisis,” NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, Mar. 27, 2006, available at
http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=15123.
43
Id.
44
Interview with Rhonda Ducre, May 30, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Interview with Rhonda Ducre, Mar. 15, 2006 (Notes
on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
45
Interview with T.D., Mar. 17, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
46
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #159, Oct. 12, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
47
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #119, Oct. 18, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
48
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #53, Oct. 28, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
49
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #59, Oct. 14, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
50
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #160, Oct. 12, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
51
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #145, Oct. 24, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
52
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #660, Oct. 20, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
53
Interview with Gedra Payne Robinson, Mar. 31, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
54
Id.
55
Interview with Joyce Gilson, Mar. 23, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
56
Interview with Gedra Payne Robinson, Mar. 31, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
57
Interview with Joyce Gilson, Mar. 23, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
58
Interview with JoAnn Bailey Wilson, Mar. 24, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
59
Id.
60
Interview with Joyce Gilson, Mar. 23, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
61
Interview with Gedra Payne Robinson, Mar. 31, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
62
Interview with William Hardeman, June 23, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
63
Id.
64
Interview with T.D., Mar. 17, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
65
Testimonial Provided by David Williams, Nov. 7, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
66
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #167, Oct. 13, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
67
Interview with Albert G. Couvillion, June 3, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Testimonial Provided by Albert G. Couvillion,
Oct. 30, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
68
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #205, Oct. 23, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
69
Interview with T.D., Mar. 17, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
70
Interview with Rhonda Ducre, Mar. 15, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
71
Interview with R.P., May 12, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
72
Interview with C.F., Mar. 15, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
73
Id.
74
Id.
75
Interview with C.N., May 12, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Interview with T.D., Mar. 17, 2006 (Notes on File with the
ACLU National Prison Project).
76
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #1203, Apr. 4, 2006 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
77
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #1229, Apr. 23, 2006 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
78
E-Mail from Brady Richard, Former Medical Supply Officer to Katie Schwartzmann, ACLU of Louisiana, June 28, 2006 (E-Mail on File with the ACLU
National Prison Project).
79
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #53, Oct. 28, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
80
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #229, Oct. 23, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
81
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #262, Oct. 13, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
82
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #189, Oct. 24, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
83
Letter from Keanna Herbert to Eric Balaban, ACLU National Prison Project (Apr. 5, 2006) (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
84
Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office Hurricane/Flood Contingency Plan (unsigned) (undated), available at
http://www.aclu.org/prison/conditions/22359lgl20050921.html.
85
Richard A. Webster, OPP Doc Recounts Heroic Experience,” NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, Apr. 3, 2006, available at
http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=15189.
86
El-Sadr W, Neaton J. Episodic CD4-guided use of ART is inferior to continuous therapy: Results of the SMART Study. 13th Conference on Retroviruses and
Opportunistic Infections; February 5-8, 2006; Denver, CO. Abstract 106LB; Danel C, Moh R, Sorho S, et al. The CD4-guided strategy arm stopped in a randomized structured treatment interruption trial in West-Africa Adults: ANRS 1269 Trivacan Trial. 13th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections; February 5-8, 2006; Denver, CO. Abstract 105LB
87
National Commission on Correctional Healthcare, Administrative Management of HIV in Correctional Institutions, Position Statements, October 9, 2005.
88
Letter from Keanna Herbert to Eric Balaban, ACLU National Prison Project, Nov. 15, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
89
Letter from Keanna Herbert to Eric Balaban, ACLU National Prison Project, Apr. 5, 2006 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
90
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #975, Oct. 14, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
91
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #975, Oct. 14, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).

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Michelle Gaseau, Corrections Emerges Strong Following Katrina, CORRECTIONS.COM, Sept. 12, 2005.
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #152, Oct. 20, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
94
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #584, Oct. 20, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
95
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #584, Oct. 20, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
96
Interview with K.P., May 30, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
97
Id.
98
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #219, Oct. 22, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
99
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #20, Oct. 19, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
100
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #356, Jan. 22, 2006 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
101
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #123, Oct. 14, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
102
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #98, Oct. 19, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
103
Interview with C.F., Mar. 15, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
104
Interview with Renard Reed, June 22, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Interview with Renard Reed, June 20, 2006 (Notes on
File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
105
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #118, Oct. 16, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
106
Interview with Inmate #141, April 11, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
107
Richard A. Webster, OPP Doc Recounts Heroic Experience, New Orleans CityBusiness, Apr. 3, 2006, available at http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=15189.
108
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #38, Oct. 17, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
109
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #1070, undated (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
110
Letter from Inmate #1070 to Eric Balaban, ACLU National Prison Project, Feb. 20, 2006 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
111
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #1108, Mar. 31, 2006 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
112
Michael Perlstein, Grave Concern, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Mar. 12, 2006, available at http://www.nola.com/news/tp/frontpage/index.ssf?/base/news-5/1142150950104380.xml.
113
Interview with C. Gary Wainwright, Dec. 21, 2005 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
114
Id.; see also Michael Perlstein, Grave Concern, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Mar. 12, 2006, available at http://www.nola.com/news/tp/frontpage/index.ssf?/base/news-5/1142150950104380.xml.
115
Id.
116
Michael Perlstein, Grave Concern, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Mar. 12, 2006, available at http://www.nola.com/news/tp/frontpage/index.ssf?/base/news-5/1142150950104380.xml.
117
Id.
118
Interview with C. Gary Wainwright, Dec. 21, 2005 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
119
Id.
120
Id.
121
Id.
122
Michael Perlstein, Grave Concern, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Mar. 12, 2006, available at http://www.nola.com/news/tp/frontpage/index.ssf?/base/news-5/1142150950104380.xml.
123
Id.
124
Letter from Inmate #903 to Tom-Tsvi M. Jawetz, ACLU National Prison Project, Apr. 29, 2006 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
125
Michael Perlstein, Grave Concern, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Mar. 12, 2006, available at http://www.nola.com/news/tp/frontpage/index.ssf?/base/news-5/1142150950104380.xml.
126
Id.
127
Id.
128
Id.
129
Id.
130
Id.
131
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #11, Oct. 19, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
132
Interview with C.F., Mar. 15, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
133
Interview with R.P., May 12, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
134
Interview with Renard Reed, June 22, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Interview with Renard Reed, June 20, 2006 (Notes on
File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
135
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #1192, Oct. 21, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
136
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #87, Oct. 12, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
137
Testimonial Provided by Pearl Cornelia Bland, Sep. 22, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project). Ms. Bland’s account is corroborated
by other female prisoners in Conchetta 3-1, one of whom was interviewed several months after the storm. She reports that Ms. Bland was jumped by other
female prisoners, and that a deputy closed the door and refused to assist Ms. Bland as she was being assaulted. According to this witness, one deputy said something like “let them fuck that whore up.” Interview with Inmate A.K., Oct. 28, 2005 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project). Another woman
states that “[m]ost of the Deputies and the nurse were in the back room, they didn’t even come out when fights started to break out. [T]hey had the door open for
us to try to get air but when the fights started one of Deputies closed the door and said let them fight.” Testimonial Provided by Inmate #342, Oct. 24, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
138
Testimonial Provided by Pearl Cornelia Bland, Sep. 22, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
139
Letter from Pearl Cornelia Bland, to Elizabeth Alexander, Director, ACLU National Prison Project (June 5, 2006) (Original on File with the ACLU
National Prison Project).
140
Information about Ms. Bland’s incarceration was obtained with the assistance of Katherine Mattes.
141
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #78, Oct. 17, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
142
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #96, Oct. 17, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
143
U.S. Department of Justice-Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sexual Violence Reported by Correctional Authorities 2004, July 2005; as cited by Supplementary Report
to the Findings of the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina From the Office of Cynthia A. McKinney (GA) United States House of Representatives Submitted Monday, February 6, 2006.
144
Interview with C.F., Mar. 15, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
145
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #125, Oct. 14, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
93

101

146

Testimonial Provided by Inmate #23, Oct. 17, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #64, Oct. 17, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
148
Michael Perlstein, Prison Became Island of Fear and Frustration, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Sept. 23, 2005.
149
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #189, Oct. 24, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
150
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #553, Nov. 5, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
151
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #839, Oct. 21, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
152
Declaration of Quantonio Williams (undated).
153
Interview with T.D., Mar. 17, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
154
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #790, Oct. 27, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
155
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #839, Oct. 21, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
156
Interview with Leroy P. Gardner, III, June 7, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Testimonial Provided by Leroy P. Gardner, III,
Oct. 12, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
157
Richard Webster, Caught Off Guard: OPP Deputies Blame Sheriff for Hurricane Crisis, NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, Mar. 27, 2006, available at
http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=15123.
158
Id.
159
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #121, Oct. 15, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
160
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #231, Oct. 22, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
161
Testimonial Provided by Darnell Smith, Oct. 15, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
162
Interview with C.N., May 12, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
163
Id.
164
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #98, Oct. 19, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
165
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #123, Oct. 14, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
166
Interview with Renard Reed, June 22, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Interview with Renard Reed, June 20, 2006 (Notes on
File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
167
Interview with C.N., May 12, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
168
Richard Webster, Jail Tales: Sheriff Gusman, Prisoners Differ on Storm Evacuation Success, NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, Feb. 20, 2006, available at
http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=14735.
169
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #44, Oct. 17, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
170
Mira Oberman, Prisoners Fell on Barbed Wire in Deperate [sic] Bid to Find Water, AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, Sept. 3, 2005.
171
Interview with C.N., May 12, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
172
Interview with T.D., Mar. 17, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
173
Interview with C.F., Mar. 15, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
174
Michael Perlstein, Prison Became Island of Fear and Frustration, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Sept. 23, 2005.
175
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #77, Oct. 12, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
176
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #162, Oct. 12, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
177
Michael Perlstein, Prison Became Island of Fear and Frustration, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Sept. 23, 2005.
178
Richard Webster, Caught Off-Guard: OPP Deputies Blame Sheriff for Hurricane Crisis, NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, Mar. 27, 2006.
179
Amnesty International, United States of America: Excessive and Lethal Force? Amnesty International’s Concerns About Deaths and Ill-Treatment Involving Police
Use of Tasers, Nov. 30, 2004, 22-25, available at http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engamr511392004.
180
Id. at 60-61.
181
Amnesty International, Amnesty International’s Continuing Concerns About Taser Use, Mar. 28, 2006, available at http://www.amnestyusa.org/countries/usa/document.do?id=ENGAMR510302006.
182
Kevin Johnson, Justice Department Looks into Deaths of People Subdued By Stun Guns, USA TODAY, June 13, 2006, available at
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-06-13-stun-guns_x.htm.
183
Amnesty International, United States of America: Excessive and Lethal Force? Amnesty International’s Concerns About Deaths and Ill-Treatment Involving Police
Use of Tasers, Nov. 30, 2004, 57 n.144, available at http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engamr511392004.
184
For example, the Indianapolis Police Department reportedly uses Tasers against blacks and Hispanics “at a far higher rate” than it does against whites.
Richard D. Walton and Mark Nichols, 50,000 Volts of Controversy, THE INDIANAPOLIS STAR, June 23, 2006, available at
http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060623/NEWS01/306230005/-1/ZONES04. The racial disparity was similar for the Marion County
Sheriff’s Department. Id.
185
Interview with T.D., Mar. 17, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
186
Id.
187
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #64, Oct. 17, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
188
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #71, Oct. 14, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
189
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #144, Oct. 27, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
190
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #92, undated (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
191
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #56, Oct. 24, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
192
Interview with Renard Reed, June 22, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Interview with Renard Reed, June 20, 2006 (Notes on
File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
193
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #111, Oct. 17, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
194
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #55, Oct. 29, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
147

Section IV
1

Testimonial Provided by Inmate #181, Oct. 24, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
NIC Technical Assistance Report at 15.
3
Rene Lapeyrolerie, What Really Happened At Orleans Parish Prison in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Tribune, Feb./Mar. 2006, 24. A report
issued by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections also indicates that Sheriff Gusman called the state for assistance late Monday. See
Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Corrections Services, Hurricane Katrina /Hurricane Rita Activity Report, Mar. 21, 2006, available at
http://www.marlingusman.com/KATRINA1%20RITA%20ACTIVITY%20REPORT.htm.
4
Michael Perlstein, Prison Became Island of Fear and Frustration, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Sept. 23, 2005.
2

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Id. at 3.
NIC Technical Assistance Report at 15.
7
Interview with T.D., Mar. 17, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
8
Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, Treated Like Trash: Juvenile Detention in New Orleans Before, During, and After Hurricane Katrina, May 2006, 18, available
at http://jjpl.org/PDF/treated_like_trash.pdf.
9
Interview with R.P., May 12, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
10
Interview with Duane Lewis, June 23, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
11
Michael Perlstein, 14 Orleans Inmates Escaped After Katrina, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Nov. 18, 2005, available at
http://www.nola.com/weblogs/print.ssf?/mtlogs/nola_Times-Picayune/archives/print094805.html.
12
Id. St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Jack Stephens later took responsibility for what happened to the St. Bernard Parish prisoners at OPP, including the escape of
some of those prisoners. Sheriff Stephens explained: “Obviously, there was some confusion right after the storm, and we were in somebody else’s jail, but those
are still our inmates and they’re still our responsibility.” Michael Perlstein, Inmate Says Jail Escape Was “Survival”: Fear of New Charges Keeps Him On the Lam,
THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Nov. 23, 2005.
13
Interview with C.N., May 12, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
14
Interview with T.D., Mar. 17, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
15
Interview with C.N., May 12, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
16
Id.
17
Interview with Joyce Gilson, June 4, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
18
Interview with Ronnie Lee Morgan, Jr., June 5, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project)
19
Michael Perlstein, Prison Became Island of Fear and Frustration, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE, Sept. 23, 2005.
20
Rene Lapeyrolerie, What Really Happened At Orleans Parish Prison in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, NEW ORLEANS TRIBUNE, Feb./Mar. 2006, 24.
21
Michael Perlstein, Prison Became Island of Fear and Frustration, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Sept. 23, 2005.
22
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #241, Oct. 23, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
23
Interview with JoAnn Bailey Wilson, Mar. 24, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
24
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #153, Oct. 22, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
25
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #596, Oct. 24, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
26
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #27, Oct. 20, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
27
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #187, Oct. 23, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
28
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #227, Oct. 21, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
29
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #59, Oct. 14, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
30
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #266, Oct. 25, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
31
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #93, Oct. 20, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
32
Rene Lapeyrolerie, What Really Happened At Orleans Parish Prison in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,” NEW ORLEANS TRIBUNE, Feb./Mar. 2006, 24.
33
Agence France Presse, Sheriff’s Deputy Tells How Prisoners Fell onto Barbed Wire, Sept. 4, 2005.
34
Richard Liebson, New Orleans Jail Rescue Began in White Plains, THE JOURNAL NEWS (White Plains), Sept. 9, 2005.
35
Interview with Corey Stevenson, June 7, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
36
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #98, Oct. 19, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Testimonial Provided by Inmate #524, Oct. 16,
2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
37
Michael Perlstein and Gordon Russell, Orleans Criminal Sheriff’s Race Gets Nasty, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Apt. 18, 2006.
38
Interview with Inmate #524, July 7, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
39
Associated Press, Katrina Victim Found in New Orleans House, May 28, 2006.
40
Press Release, Roster of Missing Loved Ones Now Fewer Than 300, FEMA, May 18, 2006, available at http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=26341.
41
Chicago Tribune, 49 Katirna Bodies Remain Unidentified, July 6, 2006, available at 2006 WLNR 11643743.
6

Section V
1

Testimonial Provided by Inmate #24, Oct. 17, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #251, Oct. 12, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
3
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #160, Oct. 12, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
4
Interview with T.D., Mar. 17, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
5
Interview with Inmate #285, Mar. 31, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
6
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #11, Oct. 19, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
7
Interview with T.D., Mar. 17, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
8
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #56, Oct. 24, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
9
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #111, Oct. 17, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
10
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #227, Oct. 21, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
11
George J. Tanber, Arrested on Misdemeanors, Left to Die in Flooded Jail, THE TOLEDO BLADE, Sept. 23, 2005.
12
Id.
13
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #305, Oct. 20, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
14
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #711, Oct. 12, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
15
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #145, Oct. 24, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
16
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #302, Oct. 19, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
2

Section VI
1

The LCAC Analysis. As noted above, the Sheriff’s figures appear to double-count some children, and thus do not appear to be entirely accurate.
Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, Treated Like Trash: Juvenile Detention in New Orleans Before, During, and After Hurricane Katrina, May 2006, Foreword,
available at http://jjpl.org/PDF/treated_like_trash.pdf.
3
Editorial, Housing Juveniles with Prisoners is Criminal, NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, May 8, 2006.
2

103

4

Id.
Transcript of CNN Coverage of Press Conference, Aug. 28, 2005, available at: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0508/28/bn.04.html.
6
Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, Treated Like Trash: Juvenile Detention in New Orleans Before, During, and After Hurricane Katrina, May 2006, 13, available
at http://jjpl.org/PDF/treated_like_trash.pdf.
7
Id.
8
Id.
9
Id.
10
Id.
11
Id.
12
Id.
13
Id.
14
Id.
15
Id. at 15.
16
Id.
17
Id.
18
Id.
19
Id.
20
Interview with Ashley George, June 20, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Interview with Ashley George, Mar. 1, 2006 (Notes on
File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
21
Interview with Ruby Ann George, June 20, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
22
Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, Treated Like Trash: Juvenile Detention in New Orleans Before, During, and After Hurricane Katrina, May 2006, 15, available
at http://jjpl.org/PDF/treated_like_trash.pdf.
23
Id.
24
Id.
25
Id.
26
Id.
27
Id. at 15-16.
28
Id. at 16.
29
Id.
30
Id.
31
Id.
32
Id.
33
Id.
34
Id.
35
Id.
36
Id. at 17.
37
Id.
38
Id.
39
Id.
40
Id.
41
Id.
42
Id.
43
Id.
44
Id. at 18.
45
Id.
46
Id.
47
Id.
48
Id. at 19.
49
Id.
50
Id.
51
Id.
52
Id.
53
Id.
54
Id.
55
Id.
56
Id.
57
Id.
58
Id. at 19-20.
59
Id. at 20.
60
Richard A. Webster, Juveniles Claim They Were Treated Like “Trash” at OPP, NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, May 10, 2006.
61
Id.
62
Id.
63
Id.
5

Section VII
1

Richard Webster, Jail Tales: Sheriff Gusman, Prisoners Differ on Storm Evacuation Success, New Orleans CityBusiness, Feb. 20, 2006, available at
http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=14735.
2
U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections, A Guide to Preparing for and Responding to Prison Emergencies, June 2005, at 211, available at
http://www.nicic.org/.
3
Richard Webster, Caught Off Guard: OPP Deputies Blame Sheriff for Hurricane Crisis, NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, Mar. 27, 2006, available at

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http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=15123.
4
Compiled from Times Wires, Allegations of Neglect at Jail are “Fiction,” Sheriff Says, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, Oct. 6, 2005.
5
Richard Webster, Jail Tales: Sheriff Gusman, Prisoners Differ on Storm Evacuation Success, NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, Feb. 20, 2006, available at
http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=14735.
6
Staff Reports, Breaking News from The Times-Picayune and Nola.com Hurricane Katrina - the Aftermath, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Sept. 3, 2005.
7
Michael Perlstein, 14 Escaped Prison in Katrina Chaos: Gusman Initially Claims All Accounted For, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Nov. 19, 2005, available
at http://www.nola.com/frontpage/t-p/index.ssf?/base/news-4/113238584235800.xml
8
Id.
9
Testimonial Provided by Leroy P. Gardner, III, Oct. 12, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
10
Id.
11
Michael Perlstein, Inmate Says Jail Escape Was “Survival”: Fear of New Charges Keeps Him On the Lam, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Nov. 23, 2005.
12
See, e.g., [PRISONACT] Fwd: LEFT IN ORLEANS PARISH PRISON—2 Articles about Hurricane Katrina and OPP, available at http://www.prisonactivist.org/pipermail/prisonact-list/2005-September/010203.html.
13
Michael Perlstein, Inmate Says Jail Escape Was “Survival”: Fear of New Charges Keeps Him On the Lam, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Nov. 23, 2005.
14
Rene Lapeyrolerie, What Really Happened At Orleans Parish Prison in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,” NEW ORLEANS TRIBUNE, Feb./Mar. 2006, 24.
15
Radio Spot 2, http://www.marlingusman.com/index.html (last visited Apr. 20, 2006).
16
Jason Brown and Kayla Gagnet, Prisoners of the Storm, THE DAILY ADVERTISER, Dec. 18, 2005, available at
http://acadiananow.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051218/NEWS01/512180326/1002.
17
Richard Webster, Jail Tales: Sheriff Gusman, Prisoners Differ on Storm Evacuation Success, NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, Feb. 20, 2006, available at
http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=14735.
18
Rene Lapeyrolerie, What Really Happened At Orleans Parish Prison in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, NEW ORLEANS TRIBUNE, Feb./Mar. 2006, 24.
19
Id.
20
Richard Webster, Jail Tales: Sheriff Gusman, Prisoners Differ on Storm Evacuation Success,” NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, Feb. 20, 2006, available at
http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=14735.
21
Id.
22
Interview with Rhonda Ducre, Mar. 15, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
23
The statement of Rachel I. Jones is available in the Appendix.

Section VIII
1

Testimonial Provided by Inmate #251, Oct. 12, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #251, Oct. 12, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
3
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #112, Oct. 16, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
4
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #230, Oct. 18, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
5
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #111, Oct. 17, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
6
Id.
7
Interview with Ronnie Lee Morgan, Jr., June 5, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Interview with Ronnie Lee Morgan, Jr., May
15, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Letter from Inmate Ronnie Lee Morgan, Jr. to Whom It May Concern (Nov. 10, 2005) (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
8
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #120, Oct. 17, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
9
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #118, Oct. 16, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
10
Interview with R.C., Apr. 26, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
11
NIC Technical Assistance Report at 23.
12
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #64, Oct. 17, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
13
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #561, Nov. 9, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
14
Jason Brown and Kayla Gagnet, Prisoners of the Storm, THE DAILY ADVERTISER, Dec. 18, 2005, available at
http://acadiananow.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051218/NEWS01/512180326/1002.
15
Id.
16
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #113, Oct. 16, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
17
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #168, Oct. 14, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
18
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #621, Oct. 18, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
19
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #121, Oct. 15, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
20
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #113, Oct. 16, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
21
Jason Brown and Kayla Gagnet, Prisoners of the Storm, THE DAILY ADVERTISER, Dec. 18, 2005, available at
http://acadiananow.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051218/NEWS01/512180326/1002.
22
Id.
24
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #121, Oct. 17, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
25
NIC Technical Assistance Report at 23.
26
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #361, Oct. 26, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
27
Richard A. Webster, OPP Doc Recounts Heroic Experience, NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, Apr. 3, 2006, available at
http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=15189.
28
Interview with C.N., May 12, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
29
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #95, Oct. 14, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
30
George J. Tanber, Arrested on Misdemeanors, Left to Die in Flooded Jail, THE TOLEDO BLADE, Sept. 23, 2005.
31
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #102, Oct. 14, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
32
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #263, Oct. 13, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
33
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #574, Nov. 6, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
34
Don Walker, Inmate Evacuees Arrive in Area: All of the Prisoners are in the Minimum- to Maximum-Security Category, THE SHREVEPORT TIMES, Sept. 2, 2005,
available at http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050902/NEWS01/509020357/1002/NEWS.
35
Matthew Crawford, Facility of the Month: Bossier Parish Maximum Security Jail, CORRECTIONALNEWS.COM, May/June 2006, available at http://correctionalnews.com/ME2/Audiences/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE895F87F791&tier
2

105

=4&id=1D049DF8798C4158B10087CB4992EA27.
36
Id.
37
Id.
38
Id.
39
U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Demographic Profile Highlights, available at
http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/SAFFFacts?_event=&geo_id=16000US2208920&_geoContext=01000US%7C04000US22%7C16000US2208920&_street=&
_county=bossier+city&_cityTown=bossier+city&_state=&_zip=&_lang=en&_sse=on&ActiveGeoDiv=&_useEV=&pctxt=fph&pgsl=160&_submenuId=population_0&ds_name=null&_ci_nbr=null&qr_name=null&reg=null%3Anull&_keyword=&_industry=.
40
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #83, Oct. 17, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
41
Testimonial Provided by Timothy Ordon, Nov. 7, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Letter from Timothy Ordon to Tom M.
Jawetz, ACLU National Prison Project (May 10, 2006) (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
42
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #555, Nov. 5, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
43
Interview with Ivy R. Gisclair, June 14, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
44
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #574, Nov. 6, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
45
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #50, Oct. 30, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
46
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #114, Oct. 17, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
47
Id.
48
Interview with Vincent Norman, July 10, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Interview with Vincent Norman, July 7, 2006
(Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project); Testimonial Provided by Vincent Norman, Oct. 13, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National
Prison Project).
49
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #103, Oct. 11, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
50
Interview with Inmate #13, May 16, 2006 (Notes from Conversation on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
51
Id.
52
Fox Butterfield, Settling Suit, Louisiana Abandons Private Youth Prisons, THE NEW YORK TIMES, Sept. 8, 2000; Vicki Ferstel, Last Juveniles to Leave Jena,
BATON ROUGE ADVOCATE, May 16, 2000.
53
David Rohde and Christopher Drew, Storm and Crisis: The Inmates; Prisoners Evacuated After Hurricane Allege Abuse, THE NEW YORK TIMES, Oct. 2, 2005.
54
Statement of Keith M. Dillon, May 28, 2006 (Copy on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
55
Statement of Rachel I. Jones, Sept. 30, 2005, at 4.
56
Id. at 4-5.
57
Press Release, Louisiana: Detainee Abuse Requires Federal Probe, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND, INC. AND HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH,
Oct. 5, 2005, available at http://www.naacpldf.org/content.aspx?article=696.
58
Id.
59
Id.
60
Id.
61
Id.
62
Statement of Rachel I. Jones, Sept. 30, 2005, at 8; Press Release, Louisiana: Detainee Abuse Requires Federal Probe, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND, INC. AND HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, Oct. 5, 2005, available at http://www.naacpldf.org/content.aspx?article=696.
63
Press Release, Louisiana: Detainee Abuse Requires Federal Probe, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND, INC. AND HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH,
Oct. 5, 2005, available at http://www.naacpldf.org/content.aspx?article=696.
64
Statement of Keith M. Dillon, May 28, 2006 (Copy on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
65
Press Release, Louisiana: Detainee Abuse Requires Federal Probe, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND, INC. AND HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH,
Oct. 5, 2005, available at http://www.naacpldf.org/content.aspx?article=696.
66
Id.
67
Interview by Vanita Gupta, LDF Attorney, with prisoners at the Jena Facility, Louisiana, October 4, 2005.
68
David Rohde and Christopher Drew, Prisoners Evacuated After Hurricanes Allege Abuse, THE NEW YORK TIMES, Oct. 2, 2005. The Statement of Rachel I.
Jones, has been attached to the Appendix at ___. The names of the prisoners with whom she spoke have been removed for their protection.
69
Press Release, Louisiana: Detainee Abuse Requires Federal Probe, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND, INC. AND HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH,
Oct. 5, 2005, available at http://www.naacpldf.org/content.aspx?article=696.
70
David Rohde and Christopher Drew, Prisoners Evacuated After Hurricanes Allege Abuse, THE NEW YORK TIMES, Oct. 2, 2005; Henry Weinstein, A Shattered
Gulf Coast; Evacuated Inmates at One Prison Allege Abuse by Guards, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, Oct. 2, 2005.
71
Press Release, Louisiana: Detainee Abuse Requires Federal Probe, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUND, INC. AND HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH,
Oct. 5, 2005, available at http://www.naacpldf.org/content.aspx?article=696.
72
Letter from Jamie Fellner, Human Rights Watch, to Secretary Richard L. Stalder, Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Oct. 2, 2005,
available at http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/10/03/usdom11821.htm.
73
NIC Technical Assistance Report at 30.
74
The women who were held at Angola were generally far more pleased than the women who were held at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women
(“LCIW”). According to the DOC technical assistance report, female evacuees who were still at LCIW at the end of January 2006 “complained about being kept
on 23 hour lock-down for months, . . . long delays in getting medication, no distribution of clothes given to the resident population, sleeping on the floor for the first
three months and a continuing lack of access to phones and a continuing prohibition against family visiting.” NIC Technical Assistance Report at 28. These complaints were, in large part, confirmed by LCIW staff, who subsequently decided—over five months after the storm—to permit evacuees to visit with family members and use the telephones. Id. at 28-29.
75
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #374, undated (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
76
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #573, Oct. 26, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
77
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #581, Oct. 19, 2005 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
78
Testimonial Provided by Inmate #1226, May 8, 2006 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).

Section IX
1

Alex Berenson, With Jails Flooded, Bus Station Fills the Void, THE NEW YORK TIMES, Sept. 7, 2005.
Matthew Crawford, Recovery Zone: Orleans Parish Sheriff Shares His Experiences After Katrina, CORRECTIONALNEWS.COM, May/June 2006, available at
http://correctionalnews.com/ME2/Audiences/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18BE
2

106

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION

895F87F791&tier=4&id=3C4639CFDE1443D4B8BF8F1CDF028184.
3
Press Release, ACLU Urges New Orleans City Council to Review Conditions at Prison, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, Dec. 8, 2005, available at
http://www.aclu.org/prison/gen/22370prs20051208.html; Press Release, ACLU Calls on New Orleans City Council to Hold Hearing on Plans to Re-Open Prison,
AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, Oct. 21, 2005, available at http://www.aclu.org/prison/conditions/21168lgl20051021.html.
4
Letter from Joe Cook, ACLU of Louisiana, to Council Member Oliver Thomas, Dec. 8, 2005, available at
http://www.aclu.org/prison/conditions/22369lgl20051208.html.
5
State v. Peart, 621 So.2d 780 (La. 1993).
6
National Legal Aid & Defender Association, In Defense of Public Access to Justice: An Assessment of Trial-Level Indigent Defense Services in Louisiana 40 Years After
Gideon (Mar. 2004), 56, available at http://www.nacdl.org/public.nsf/DefenseUpdates/Avoyelles.
7
State v. Citizen, 898 So. 2d 325, 339 (La. 2005).
8
Cf. Who Pays the Price for Orleans Parish’s Broken Indigent Defense System? A Summary of Investigative Findings, Safe Streets/Strong Communities, March 2006,
available at http://www.lajusticecoalition.org/doc/SSSC-Orleans-Parish-Study.pdf.
9
Associated Press, Justice in New Orleans Still Recovering From Katrina, June 24, 2006, available at
http://www.cnn.com/2006/LAW/06/22/nola.justice.ap/index.html.
10
Id.
11
Nicholas L. Chiarkis, D. Alan Henry, and Randolph N. Stone, An Assessment of the Immediate and Longer-Term Needs of the New Orleans Public Defender System,
Apr. 10, 2006, 9, available at http://www.lajusticecoalition.org/doc/DOJ-Orleans-Parish-Study.pdf.
12
See Henry Weinstein, Evacuated Prisoners Are Captive to Legal Limbo, LOS ANGELES TIMES, Oct. 16, 2005.
13
Associated Press, New Orleans Holds First Trial Since Katrina, June 6, 2006, available at http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,198328,00.html. See also Gwen
Filosa, Inmates Ordered Freed at Prison; Nonviolent Suspects Clog Orleans Jail, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), May 25, 2006, available at
http://www.nola.com/frontpage/t-p/index.ssf?/base/news-5/114855328172910.xml.
14
Andrew Cohen, The Battle of New Orleans, CBS NEWS, May 25, 2006, available at
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/05/25/opinion/courtwatch/main1654070.shtml.
15
See generally Students of the Domestic Disaster Practicum, Northwestern University School of Law: A Class Aimed At Exploring and Addressing the Social
and Legal Consequences of Hurricane Katrina, Access Denied: Pre-Katrina Practices in Post-Katrina Magistrate and Municipal Courts, Apr. 2006, available at
http://www.lajusticecoalition.org/doc/NU-Orleans-Parish-Study.pdf.
16
Gwen Filosa, Inmates Ordered Freed at Prison; Nonviolent Suspects Clog Orleans Jail, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), May 25, 2006, available at
http://www.nola.com/frontpage/t-p/index.ssf?/base/news-5/114855328172910.xml.
17
The Chief Judge’s order reads:
IT IS THE ORDER OF THIS COURT, that the Criminal Sheriff for the Parish of Orleans, release
any and all inmates currently housed in Orleans Parish Prison who are charged with municipal and/or traffic violations. This order excludes persons charged with crimes against persons, including but not limited to domestic violence, battery and DWI. This order excludes inmates who have been sentenced.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that those persons eligible for release be released 72 hours AFTER
receipt of this Order.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Criminal Sheriff serve any released defendant with a notice to
appear in the appropriate court on the defendant’s next scheduled appearance date.
IT IS FURTER ORDERED that the Criminal Sheriff not detain persons charged with municipal
and/or traffic offenses unless the charge is a violation as set out in the exclusion above.
This Order is to remain in effect until further order of this Court.
Thus done and said in New Orleans, Louisiana this 17th day of May, 2006 /s Calvin Johnson, Chief Judge
18
Editorial, The Criminal Justice Mess, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), May 29, 2006.
19
News Release, Rand Study Estimates New Orleans Population to Climb to About 272,000 in 2008, RAND CORPORATION, Mar. 15, 2006, available at
http://www.rand.org/news/press.06/03.15.html.
20
Gwen Filosa, Inmates Ordered Freed at Prison; Nonviolent Suspects Clog Orleans Jail, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), May 25, 2006, available at
http://www.nola.com/frontpage/t-p/index.ssf?/base/news-5/114855328172910.xml.
21
NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, News Orleans Struggles to Rebuild Justice System after Hurricane Katrina, PBS, May 25, 2006, available at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/law/jan-june06/neworleans_05-25.html.
22
Nicholas L. Chiarkis, D. Alan Henry, and Randolph N. Stone, An Assessment of the Immediate and Longer-Term Needs of the New Orleans Public Defender System,
Apr. 10, 2006, 9, available at http://www.lajusticecoalition.org/doc/DOJ-Orleans-Parish-Study.pdf.
23
Letter from Eric Balaban, ACLU National Prison Project, to John Weeks and Allen Usry, Oct. 14, 2005.
24
Minute Entry, Hamilton v. Morial, No. 69-cv-2443, Chasez, M.J. Oct. 19, 2005.
25
Facsimile from John Weeks, to Eric Balaban, ACLU National Prison Project, Nov. 7, 2005.
26
Letter from John F. Weeks, II, Usry, Weeks & Matthews, to Eric Balaban, ACLU National Prison Project, Nov. 30, 2005 available at
http://www.aclu.org/prison/conditions/22358lgl20051130.html. See also Richard A. Webster, N.O. Prison’s Future in Question, NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, Dec.
19, 2005, available at http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=14229.
27
Richard A. Webster, N.O. Prison’s Future in Question, NEW ORLEANS CITYBUSINESS, Dec. 19, 2005, available at http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/viewStory.cfm?recID=14229.
28
Letter from Eric Balaban, ACLU National Prison Project, to John Weeks and Allen Usry, Oct. 14, 2005.
29
Letter from Marlin N. Gusman, Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff, to Members of the New Orleans City Council, Nov. 10, 2005, available at
http://www.aclu.org/prison/conditions/22357lgl20051110.html.
30
Interview with Anonymous Prisoner, Mar. 28, 2006 (Notes on File with Critical Resistance).
31
Interview with Inmate #1284, June 5, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
32
Interview with M.M., Mar. 28, 2006 (Notes on File with Safe Streets).
33
Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office, Inmate’s Grievance Form (Form ARP-1), J.R., Apr. 27, 2006.
34
Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office, Step One Response Form (Form ARP-2A), J.R., May 2, 2006.
35
La.C.Cr.P. Art. 648(A).
36
La.C.Cr.P. Art. 648(A)(2)(a)
37
Id.
38
Gwen Filosa, Suspect Lost in Court System; Stuck for 10 Months, She Gets Out Today, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), June 12, 2006, available at
http://www.nacdl.org/public.nsf/defenseupdates/louisiana088.
39
Id.

107

40

Id.
Id.
42
See generally Letter from Marlin N. Gusman, Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff, to Members of the New Orleans City Council, Nov. 10, 2005, available at
http://www.aclu.org/prison/conditions/22357lgl20051110.html
43
Id.
44
See generally, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The CDC Mold Work Group, Mold: Prevention Strategies and Possible Health Effects in the Aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Oct. 2005, available at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/mold/report/pdf/2005_moldreport.pdf.
45
Id.
46
Matthew Crawford, Recovery Zone: Orleans Parish Sheriff Shares His Experiences After Katrina, CORRECTIONALNEWS.COM, May/June 2006, available at
http://correctionalnews.com/ME2/Audiences/dirmod.asp?sid=&nm=&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=8F3A7027421841978F18
BE895F87F791&tier=4&id=3C4639CFDE1443D4B8BF8F1CDF028184.
47
See generally, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The CDC Mold Work Group, Mold: Prevention Strategies and Possible Health Effects in the Aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Oct. 2005, available at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/mold/report/pdf/2005_moldreport.pdf.
48
Exit Interview with A.P., Mar. 29, 2006 (Notes on File with Safe Streets).
49
Exit Interview with C.B., Mar. 28, 2006 (Notes on File with Safe Streets).
50
Letter from M.C. to Elizabeth Alexander, ACLU National Prison Project, Mar. 21, 2006 (Original on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
51
Id.
52
Interview with Inmate #870, June 5, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
53
Id.
54
Interview with Inmate #1261, June 5, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
55
Id.
56
Interview with J.M., June 5, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
57
Exit Interview with F.S., Mar. 28, 2006 (Notes on File with Safe Streets); Exit Interview with N.H., Mar. 28, 2006 (Notes on File with Safe Streets).
58
Interview with Inmate #1261, June 5, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
59
Interview with Inmate #421, June 5, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
60
Interview with C.S., Mar. 29, 2006 (Notes on File with Safe Streets).
61
Interview with Inmate #399, June 5, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
62
Bob Ussery, Inmate’s Death Shocks Mom, Wife; 2 Weeks Pass Before They Learn He is Dead, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), May 14, 2006, available at
http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/metro/index.ssf?/base/news-14/11475915953030.xml&coll=1.
63
Id.
64
Interview with T.H., June 7, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
65
Interview with T.M., June 7, 2006 (Notes on File with the ACLU National Prison Project).
66
Id.
67
Gwen Filosa, Judge Blasts Financing for Indigent Defense; Hearing Ordered to Discuss How Much N.O. Gets, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), June 24,
2006, available at http://www.nola.com/crime/t-p/index.ssf?/base/news-6/1151131497226690.xml&coll=1.
68
Id.; see also Susan Finch, Prison Neighbors Want Tents Out, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Dec. 16, 1992.
69
Settlement Agreement, Hamilton v. Morial, Mar. 26, 2003.
70
NIC Technical Assistance Report at 56.
71
C.J. Schexnayder, What Price Incarceration?, GAMBIT WEEKLY, Nov. 19, 2002.
72
Barry Gerharz and Seung Hong, Down by Law: Orleans Parish Prison Before and After Katrina, DOLLARS & SENSE, Mar./Apr. 2006, available at
http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2006/0306gerharzhong.html.
73
C.J. Schexnayder, What Price Incarceration?, GAMBIT WEEKLY, Nov. 19, 2002.
74
Christopher Cooper, Foti’s Wish Comes True: Prison Space for 7,140, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Oct. 20, 1993 A1.
75
Susan Finch, Orleans Sheriff Fires 73 to Even Budget; he Cites Revenue Drop from Fewer Prisoners, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Apr. 15, 2004.
76
Sheriff’s Ninth Motion for Jail Funding Judgment with Incorporated Memorandum, Hamilton v. Morial, Nov. 1, 2005 Ex. B.
77
Letter from Marlin N. Gusman, Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff, to Members of the New Orleans City Council, Nov. 10, 2005, available at
http://www.aclu.org/prison/conditions/22357lgl20051110.html.
78
Id.
79
Barry Gerharz and Seung Hong, Down by Law: Orleans Parish Prison Before and After Katrina, DOLLARS & SENSE, Mar./Apr. 2006, available at
http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2006/0306gerharzhong.html.
80
James Varney, Gusman Beats Riley in Criminal Sheriff Race; Heated Battle Grew Bitter Toward End, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Nov. 3, 2004.
81
Barry Gerharz and Seung Hong, Down by Law: Orleans Parish Prison Before and After Katrina, DOLLARS & SENSE, Mar./Apr. 2006, available at
http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2006/0306gerharzhong.html.
82
Keith Woods and Susan Finch, Citizens Often Hire Inmates, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), Jan. 25, 1989.
83
Leslie Williams, Inmates in Training Program Do Work on Judge’s Home, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), July 12, 2006.
84
Dale Curry, Tilapia Serving Time; The Catch is More than Criminals at Orleans Parish Prison, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orleans), May 24, 2001.
85
Barry Gerharz and Seung Hong, Down by Law: Orleans Parish Prison Before and After Katrina, DOLLARS & SENSE, Mar./Apr. 2006, available at
http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2006/0306gerharzhong.html.
86
See Affidavit of Katie Schwartzmann, Oct. 12, 2005.
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DOCUMENT

110-117

Sampling of redacted questionnaires completed by OPP evacuees and returned to the ACLU National Prison Project

118-122

Jeffrey A. Schwartz and David Webb, Hurricanes Katrina
and Rita and the Louisiana Dept. of Public Safety and Corrections: A Chronicle and Critical Incident Review, An NIC
Technical Assistance Report, Technical Assistance No.
06P1035 (May 10, 2006) Executive Summary

123-124

Notation from Allen Usry on Letter from Joe Cook to Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Requesting Documents Pursuant to
Louisiana State Law (Sept. 21, 2005)

125-126

Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office Hurricane/Flood
Contingency Plan (unsigned) (undated)

127-136

Statement of Rachel I. Jones (Sept. 30, 2005)

137

Letter from John F. Weeks, II, Usry, Weeks & Matthews, to
Eric Balaban, ACLU National Prison Project (Nov. 30, 2005)

138-141

Letter from Patricia Nally Bowers to Katie Schwartzmann,
Denying Public Records Act Request for NIC Report and
Contraflow Plan (June 29, 2006)

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