Katrina leaves New Orleans justice system shaken

[JURIST] In the wake of Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive], local law enforcement and federal agents have expressed increasing concern over the damage the storm wreaked on the New Orleans justice system and how quickly it can recover. Among the larger problems faced by the city is the possible loss of evidence in some 3,000 criminal cases that were pending in the court system [Orleans Parish Criminal Court website] due to the toxic floodwaters in the city. Many of the witnesses and victims in those cases have fled the region for other areas of the country with no way to track them. The 1,700-strong New Orleans Police Department [official website] has struggled to regain footing, after one third of its officers went missing or left the area during the storm and much of its equipment was destroyed or damaged in the rising waters. Prisons in the city have been similarly affected, with prisoners having to be transferred to state and local jails in other areas. Some local and federal officials said it might take years for the city to be able to maintain order on its own again. USA Today has more.

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