Inmates Doing Katrina Time
Update: See the report released last month by the Southern Center for Human Rights.
The Washington Post Saturday reported on an aspect of Hurricane Katrina that needs far greater attention. After Hurricane Katrina, the already dismally underfunded public defender's system suffered more cuts --to the extent that thousands are imprisoned in Parish jails who should not be there - either because the time they've served exceeds the maximum time allowed for the crime, or they have never seen a lawyer and speedy trial rules flew out with the storm.
Here's the current state of the court system:
The criminal justice system here is besieged on all sides. The evidence room was flooded with several feet of water. Witnesses, like half the population, are scattered all over the country. The district court's 13 judges are restricted to holding court in two federal courtrooms available only four days a week. No criminal jury trials have been held since the storm.
As to the prisoners:
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