Last day, last chance

Today is the last day of our spring break adventure, and I\'m so upset to see this experience come to an end. I\'ve had the hardest time doing these entries because the volume of information I want to get to people so they can try to understand the situation here is enormous and overwhelming.\r\n\r\nLet\'s have a story, shall we?\r\n\r\nMeet Mr D. D was arrested for a paraphernalia charge, found guilty and sentenced to probation and fines. He missed his court date on 8/9 to pay his fines (just over $400) and his probation was revoked, meaning he would have to serve his 5 month jail sentence.\r\n\r\nThe reason Mr. D didn\'t make it to court was he was in jail, having been arrested for simple burglary on 7/26, a charge the D.A. refused on 8/23. So now, Mr. D is in jail, and can\'t get out because he\'s violated his probation for missing a court date, a court date he missed because he was in jail.\r\n\r\nMad yet? Just wait, my story gets better.\r\n\r\nHurricane Katrina hits. Orleans Parish prisoners are scattered across the state. Mr. D gets sent far from New Orleans and sits in jail.\r\n\r\nFebruary. Prof. Metzger and the Tulane Law Clinic find Mr. D, who has now served 7 mos. of a 5 mo. sentence. When I say they found him, I mean literally, his papers were merely at the top of a stack of papers. He wasn\'t red-flagged, he wasn\'t scheduled for a hearing, his docket sheet was just the first one Prof. Metzger picked up that day. Once they figure out what happened to Mr. D, they go to court and tell the judge what the situation is. The judge doesn\'t release Mr. D; he sets a date for a week later to determine if Mr. D should be released. 7 months, plus one week.\r\n\r\nThe law clinic finally gets the judge to let Mr. D out, and a release order is issued on 3/2. Fast forward yet another week, when Prof. Metzger is at the jail where Mr. had been held to interview other prisoners. Who does she run across? Mr. D. Why hadn\'t he been released? The powers that be were holding the release orders until they had enough for a full bus, because they don\'t want to waste money.\r\n\r\nThe most heartbreaking part of this story is the conversations Prof. Metzger had with Mr. D. He thought he was still in jail on the simple burglary charge. When she asked where he was going to go when he got out, Mr. D said, \"My people are in the 9th.\"\r\n\r\n\"No, Mr. D, they\'re not,\" she said. How do you explain to someone that the community he knew no longer existed, that they\'d been scattered to the four corners of the country? How do you explain to him that there is little left, and you don\'t know what he has to go back to?\r\n\r\nI don\'t know what will happen to these prisoners whose info we\'re working on when and if they get out, and I\'m afraid to ask. Meg, one of our outstanding, superstar supervising attorneys, whose passion and outrage have kept us motivated all week, she told us stories about how when they were first releasing people, they would drop them in the post-Katrina lower 9th in their orange DOC jumpsuits. All their identification had been lost in the flooding, so they were given their booking sheet as an ID. What money they may have had was given to them in the form of a check.\r\n\r\nI need for the work we\'ve done this week to be useful, I need for it to work, I need for it to help. I need it to justify the tears of frustration I keep crying for people I don\'t know. I need for this to be the best thing I\'ve ever done, both for myself and New Orleans.\r\n\r\nOriginally posted: http://bls-shn.blogspot.com/2006/03/last-day-last-chance.html

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“Last day, last chance,” Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, accessed August 11, 2022, https://hurricanearchive.org/items/show/30347.