Friday, October 07, 2005

ACLU sues over conditions at local jail

Link to AP article

Pat: Well, I can see that. I mean, the government still has a responsibility to inmates to keep them alive and healthy. Abandoning them, under any circumstances, is unacceptable.

Tim: You cannot seriously believe this. You--and the ACLU--are complaining that when our resources were stretched to the limit, that when we were working as hard as we can (and it was barely good enough) we spent what manpower we had...working to save Louisianans who hadn't recently robbed, raped, or murdered anyone? From the article: It took three days to evacuate more than 6,000 inmates from the lockup after the storm hit Aug. 29. We didn't even have the Superdome fully evacuated that early. I'm surprised we got it done that fast. I wasn't aware it was a "civil liberty" to get first dibs on evacuation just because you murdered some old lady for the $250 in jewelry in her bedroom.

Pat: Both the jail and the Superdome were tragedies. Yes, these people are by and large reprehensible (though I suspect quite a few are in for nothing worse than drug charges) but nowhere in their punishment was it written "and you will, from time to time, be locked in the worst conditions nature can throw at you, perhaps until you die."

Tim: Yes, of course--nowhere in the idea of prison is it implied that it might be unpleasant. Come on, the government was working as hard as it could, and the fact that it got people out of this jail at all while there were still non-felon (though perhaps utterly stupid) citizens who needed to be rescued is impressive. Overflowing toilets? No food and water for days? Yeah, we had those everywhere in New Orleans. You don't get a special lawsuit just because you killed someone. That isn't the way it should go.

Pat: Look, this was a failure of government, as was the Superdome and Convention Center. And even though this is just one small way to hold the people in power responsible, any responsibility is a good thing--even if these people were somehow "more deserving" of their fate than other innocents were. The problem isn't that they weren't evacuated first, it's that nobody was evacuated for days.

Tim: Look, I'll accept an inquiry on behalf of those who experienced unpleasant conditions and didn't have any options to escape, but not on behalf of those who committed crimes. Law-abiders get first consideration when it comes to evacuations. And complaining that law-breakers weren't evacuated before law-abiders is insane.

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