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New Orleans prisoners left in locked cells during Katrina, rights group says

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] has accused prison officials at the New Orleans Templeman III prison facility of leaving hundreds of inmates to fend for themselves [HRW press release] during Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive], calling the prisoners' experience a "nightmare." The human rights group interviewed prison staff and dozens of prisoners who said they had been locked in their cells for four days with water rising to their necks and above, and were without food, water, or electricity. Prison officials did evacuate the Templeman I and II buildings one day after the levees broke, but only after the prisoners were almost overcome by the water. Some Templeman III prisoners were able to escape from their cells in time, while others were reported to have drowned. Almost 520 prisoners are still missing and prison officials are uncertain whether they escaped or perished. Last week, an Australian tourist who had been arrested and jailed just before Katrina hit New Orleans said that guards at the jail fled their posts [JURIST report], leaving prisoners to fend for themselves without food, water, toilets or power. The Independent has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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