In 2005, the Orleans Parish Prison forced incarcerated people to stay in prisons during Hurricane Katrina. As prison staff escaped, the water flooded cells, leaving people to starve and drown for DAYS.
Before they were finally evacuated, guards were told to “shoot anyone who tried to leave.” Unfortunately, this wasn’t the last time.
Texas’ Galveston County Jail made incarcerated people brave 2008’s Hurricane Ike, despite a mandatory evacuation order. The sweltering jail flooded with contaminated sewage water. Then guards cut off the phone lines when incarcerated people tried to tell their families what was going on!
Florida evacuated thousands of incarcerated people during 2017’s Hurricane Irene – but Polk County’s sheriff made people undergo criminal background checks before entering shelters! And after the storm, Florida made incarcerated people clean up hurricane debris without pay.
Incarceration should not be a death sentence – but these natural disasters show just how little this system cares about Black lives.