So what happened to New Orleans prisons during and after Hurricane Katrina? According to Human Rights Watch,
Inmates in Templeman III, one of several buildings in the Orleans Parish Prison compound, reported that as of Monday, August 29, there were no correctional officers in the building, which held more than 600 inmates. These inmates, including some who were locked in ground-floor cells, were not evacuated until Thursday, September 1, four days after flood waters in the jail had reached chest-level. […]
Corinne Carey, researcher from Human Rights Watch [said], "Prisoners were abandoned in their cells without food or water for days as floodwaters rose toward the ceiling." […]
According to inmates interviewed by Human Rights Watch, they had no food or water from the inmates' last meal over the weekend of August 27-28 until they were evacuated on Thursday, September 1. By Monday, August 29, the generators had died, leaving them without lights and sealed in without air circulation. The toilets backed up, creating an unbearable stench.
"They left us to die there," Dan Bright, an Orleans Parish Prison inmate told Human Rights Watch at Rapides Parish Prison, where he was sent after the evacuation. […]
Several corrections officers told Human Rights Watch there was no evacuation plan for the prison, even though the facility had been evacuated during floods in the 1990s.
Many of the prisoners "had not even been brought before a judge and charged, much less been convicted," the report states. Whole thing here.
UPDATE: Commenter "This&That" directs us to this link-filled Confederate Yankee blog-post questioning HRW's report.