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ACLU calls for full investigation into New Orleans prison conditions after Katrina

[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] and other rights organizations have called [letter, DOC] for a "full and immediate investigation into abuses at Louisiana correctional facilities" during and after Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] last year. In a scathing report [ACLU materials; press release] released Wednesday, the ACLU described foul conditions for prisoners held at Orleans Parish prisons. The ACLU found that prisoners were deprived of food, water and ventilation for several days, and authorities made no effort to rescue the prisoners until the state ordered their evacuation three days after the storm, when the prisoners were dispersed to prisons throughout Louisiana. Reports surfaced last September that New Orleans jail guards had fled their posts and rights groups accused prison officials of leaving hundreds of inmates to fend for themselves [JURIST reports]. The ACLU sued for information [JURIST report] in October seeking to gain access to evidence connected to mistreatment allegations.

The ACLU report condemned Louisiana and the prison system for its poor prison management, where prison guards said they were "unaware" of any emergency evacuation plan. In conjunction with the National Prison Project [ACLU materials], the ACLU called on the Department of Justice and Congress to audit the OPP's emergency preparedness plans [letter text, DOC]. AP has more.

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