Friday, October 26, 2007

Orleans Parish Prison: K-Ville vs Reality

The character of Trevor Cobb, played by Cole Hauser, was a prisoner in Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) and almost drowned when Katrina struck. His cell mate did drown. In K-ville episode 2, three prisoners escape from OPP and the show centers around that facility.

There is a good possibility that people may believe that prisoners drowned in real life. To set the record straight and provide some additional background for the series, I thought I would share a little bit of real life information about OPP. Just a note, my dad was NOPD and as a kid I used to hang out at central lockup and the court house. I even got a personal tour of a small part of OPP. I know quite a few people who know it a lot more intimately than I do. heh

So, I wanted to share something I read on Java Joe's Journal Jive, Trouble over 'K-Ville': Nothing bad happened at prison!. Apparently, the OPP Medical Director is not happy about what transpired in the K-Ville pilot. I bet he really hates K-Ville's second episode. ;-O

“No one died in the OPP,” says Inglese. “Fiction or not, this depiction is an affront to the medical staff and deputies who, for five harrowing days, risked their lives for the inmates and civilians in their care. They’re among the many unsung heroes of Katrina—as are many inmates—who will never receive the recognition they deserve. Minimally, however, their heroism should not be undermined. Unfortunately, since so many factual depictions make up the back story of K-Ville, viewers nationwide are left with the impression that prisoners under our care drowned.”

That should set the story straight. No one died as OPP during Katrina. It should be noted that Dr Inglese has a book, No Ordinary Heroes: 8 Doctors, 30 Nurses, 7,000 Prisoners and a Category 5 Hurricane, about his experiences.

Having said that, I am sure OPP was not a pleasant place after Katrina hit. From one inmate present at the time (quote provided by the ACLU):

Breakfast on August 29 was the last meal that the inmates ate at the prison—from that point on they had no food or water. Inmate #52 reports that escaping prisoners were shot at, and that "deputies did assault prisoners." Inmate #52 reports the inmates could not breathe, and he "thought we were going to sufacate [sic]." Some inmates found a pipe and started to break windows to get oxygen. After 48 hours on F Side, Inmate #52 was brought to the bridge early Wednesday morning, before the sun came up. The inmates were "told to leave everything behind, and walk out with our hands on our heads. The water was so deep I had [two] small prisoners holding on to me. One on each shoulder." The inmates were taken to the bridge in small boats carrying approximately 8 to 10 prisoners at a time. Once on the bridge, Inmate #52 still did not receive food or water.

Definitely not a pleasant experience. I'm sure the experience wasn't much better for the cops or the guards either, though.

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