home

Inmates Become First Responders in Louisiana

Let's have some praise where praise is due: For the inmates in Louisiana who have pitched in as first responders and other helpers for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

[James]Cox, a prisoner for nearly 30 years, is serving time for armed robbery at the Washington Correctional Institute. In the past two weeks, though, he has also been a first responder, one of dozens of inmates in orange jumpsuits who have been driving forklifts, clearing debris and handing out food and water to people living here near the Mississippi line.

As Louisiana digs out from Hurricane Katrina, convicts have been opening roads with axes and chainsaws and doing other useful work. At Angola State Penitentiary, near Baton Rouge, inmates produced mattresses for shelters. Some prisoners have even donated money from what little they are paid so evacuees can buy postage stamps.

"I've been a thug since 1966, and this feels good," said Mr. Cox, a brawny, tattooed 53-year-old. "When people come up and you look into their faces and see all the sadness, and then they thank you like you are the one giving this stuff to them, it makes you tear up."

Praise also for the Wall Street Journal's Gary Fields, who consistently covers stories about inmates and criminal justice with compassion for those society considers to be the lowest among us.

< 'New South' or 'New U.S.'? | A New Pledge Case is Born >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft


  • Re: Inmates Become First Responders in Louisiana (none / 0) (#1)
    by Edger on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:48 PM EST
    "Whoever is least among you..."

    Re: Inmates Become First Responders in Louisiana (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:48 PM EST
    Looks like some amnesty might be in order. Tragic events tend to have a profound effect on people, maybe the hurricane will lead some of the condemned onto the path of righteousness.

    Re: Inmates Become First Responders in Louisiana (none / 0) (#3)
    by Dadler on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:48 PM EST
    kdog, if any amnesty occurs in the penal system in that part of the country, it'd be almost unbelievable. i hope it does, but i'm not holding my breath. still, the irony of this inmate-as-first responder reality is beautiful and humanizing.

    Re: Inmates Become First Responders in Louisiana (none / 0) (#4)
    by Edger on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:48 PM EST
    There are as many "good" people in prisons, I'm sure... as there are "bad" who should be...

    Re: Inmates Become First Responders in Louisiana (none / 0) (#5)
    by cpinva on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:48 PM EST
    boy, that must have been some armed robbery he commited, to get a 30 year sentence. did he have a nickel bag of pot on him at the time? perhaps, this is the first time a lot of these guys have ever been in a position to help people who truly need them, and are appreciative without being judgemental. it's amazing what that feeling can do for your self esteem. amnesty? what drugs are you on, and where can i get some?

    Re: Inmates Become First Responders in Louisiana (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:48 PM EST
    A man can dream, can't he? Only copious amounts of caffeine right now cp....the thc comes after dark:) edger...so true. Some of the greatest men I have ever known, true bend over backwards types, were ex-cons.

    Re: Inmates Become First Responders in Louisiana (none / 0) (#7)
    by Edger on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:48 PM EST
    kdog: Some of the most painfully honest men to deal with that I've ever met, many people would never hire or give credit to because of dark pasts... and some of them are men to whom "word and handshake" means everything, and written contracts nothing... stand-up guys, as they say...

    Re: Inmates Become First Responders in Louisiana (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:48 PM EST
    My personal experience has been similar edger.

    Re: Inmates Become First Responders in Louisiana (none / 0) (#9)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:50 PM EST
    Seriously, I'd sooner trust a Hell's Angel than those lying killers in DC.

    Re: Inmates Become First Responders in Louisiana (none / 0) (#10)
    by Edger on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:50 PM EST
    Che: sooner trust a Hell's Angel At least you know where you stand with them...

    Re: Inmates Become First Responders in Louisiana (none / 0) (#11)
    by peacrevol on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:51 PM EST
    As Louisiana digs out from Hurricane Katrina, convicts have been opening roads with axes and chainsaws and doing other useful work.
    Officers reportedly shot over the heads of people who resisted their command to turn back. According to four witnesses, an officer told 200 evacuees to leave their encampment, then confiscated their food and water.
    Things that make you go hmmmmm....