Human Rights Watch: 517 prisoners still missing
Corinne Carey of Human Rights Watch:
We went down to investigate claims that we had been hearing that prisoners were abandoned in one of the facilities -- Templeman III is the name of the building -- and that some inmates had seen inmates left in their cells while they were on their way out, when they were finally evacuated Thursday and Friday of the week after the storm.From AlterNet: Left to Die in a New Orleans Prison. Dan Bright, now in Grand Prairie, TX, was imprisoned in one of the facilities involved:
So the first thing that we did was [ask] for a list of prisoners that were held at Orleans Parish Prison prior to the storm hitting, and then we also obtained a list from the Department of Corrections of all offenders that had been evacuated from New Orleans. We went through that list and came up with 517 people who were still unaccounted for.
We're certainly not saying that those people drowned in the facility, but there are credible reports from inmates of being left in that facility in locked cells. And so we'd like to know from the Orleans Sheriff and from the Department of Corrections what happened to those 517 people.
The Templeman III building is a receiving cell. You go there, and they hold you until they put you into a steady housing development. And like she was saying, we were strictly abandoned. They just left us. When we realized what was going on, it was too late.
It was total chaos. The water was up to our chest. You had guys laying in the water trying to climb to the top of their bunks. You had older guys who didn't have any medicine who we were trying to help. And the way we got out was we had to kick the cell door for maybe like an hour or two. And the cell doors, they sits on this hinge. You have to kick it off the hinge. And when you kicked it off the hinge you have to slide out the door.
And Templeman III is...two levels. You had an upper level and bottom level. The guys on the bottom level was totally stuck in this water. Lights was out. So we had to get out on the top level and come down and help those guys. And the police, they had left.