Prisoners of Katrina
By Olenka Frenkiel
BBC reporter, Prisoners of Katrina
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, while thousands fled New Orleans, the city’s prisoners were trapped. Fresh eye-witness accounts reveal what really happened to those left behind, and how crucial forensic evidence was simply washed away.
In September 2005, long after most people had fled a devastated city, inmates of Orleans Parish Prison – many of them shackled – were still waiting to be rescued from the blazing heat and the stinking floods.
“They basically abandoned the prison,” says Vincent Norman, a chef arrested for an unpaid fine who found himself locked in a cell for days.
Norman should have been there no more than a week. Instead, abandoned without food, drink or sanitation as the waters rose, he was in prison for 103 days.
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