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Judge releases dozens of prisoners held since Hurricane Katrina

[JURIST] Orleans Parish Criminal District Court [official website] Judge Calvin Johnson has ordered the release without bail of as many as 100 prisoners who were arrested before Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] ravaged the area, but were never charged. Johnson, who was appointed to hear the cases in Baton Rouge by the Louisiana Supreme Court, ordered the releases of the inmates during a several-hour hearing in which attorneys quickly presented the charges, date of arrest and criminal history of each inmate, who were evacuated days after the hurricane and remained imprisoned [JURIST report] in state facilities since that time. The majority of the inmates who were held without charge were set free, but the district attorney's office has reserved the right to charge the inmates at a later date. Most prisoners who were charged before the hurricane were ordered to remain incarcerated. From New Orleans, Wednesday's Times-Picayune has local coverage.

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