Aug 31 2007

Katrina and Prison Injustices

Feature Stories | Published 31 Aug 2007, 10:06 am | Comments Off on Katrina and Prison Injustices -

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GUESTS: Rosana Cruz, co-director of Safe Streets Strong Communities and Robin Templeton, author of the article, “Locked Up in New Orleans,” which is published in the most recent edition of The Nation

On the second anniversary of Katrina, a forty-three year old inmate became the fourth person to die in Louisiana’s Orleans Parish Prison this year. Prison officials claim the man died of an apparent suicide committed in a ten person cell though an autopsy has yet to be performed. Orleans Parish Prison, which was the 8th largest city jail in the nation Pre-Katrina, has yet to regain accreditation lost in the wake of the storm. Two years ago, hundreds of inmates were abandoned in the facility as the flood waters rose. Now, inmates continue to complain of poor conditions such as overcrowded ten person cells among other problems. High incarceration rates continue to affect the impoverished due to state laws that allow for people to be locked up if they are unable to post bail. Residents of New Orleans have organized against the crisis of the city’s criminal justice system. Safe Streets Strong Communities is an example of community members and activists coming together to address injustices in the system. The organization has pushed for independent police oversight and has sought the downsizing of Orleans Parish Prison. Rosetta James, a member of Safe Streets Strong Communities, lost her 29 year old son in Orleans Parish Prison after he died prior to his day in court. Prison officials told James that her young son’s death was due to “natural causes.”

Visit Safe Streets Strong Communities online at www.safestreetsnola.org and read Robin Templeton’s article at www.thenation.com/docprem.mhtml?i=20070910&s=templeton

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