August 29, 2007
“The fury of Katrina should have made it harder to recoil and look away. But look away we did.”
Two years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, the American Civil Liberty Union launched its second criminal justice report spotlighting the detailed experiences of the hundreds of thousands of individuals trying to rebuild. Following the August 2006 report, Abandoned & Abused: Orleans Parish Prisoners in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina—a groundbreaking report that told the stories of some of the7, 000 men, women, and children who were warehoused at the jail when the hurricane made landfall— Broken Promises: Two Years After (August 2007) examines the innumerable aspects of the story which continue to haunt the region.
Quoted throughout the report is someone who knows too well the frustration that stems from the idle recovery process—Katherine Mattes, Deputy and Acting Director of the Tulane Law School Criminal Law Clinic.
In its efforts to show that the region’s infrastructure is not the only thing that needs mending, Broken Promises features Mattes on page 24 with her view on what’s happening with mentally ill people in the criminal justice system. Mattes says the problem is so extensive that the number of people she can help is limited and she feels badly that she’s unable to do more.
The ACLU, our nation’s largest government watchdog and defender of civil rights, has been inundated with complaints of racial injustice and human rights violations that have taken place in Louisiana and Mississippi since the storm. This report details the increase in police abuse, racial profiling, housing discrimination, and other civil liberties violations that have been brought to the attention of the ACLU, and the ACLU’s response to them.
To read the complete report, please click here.
In addition to the report online, the American Civil Liberty Union’s website features sound bites, three of which Mattes delivers on the topics of mental health, evidence and the right to a fair trial.