According to a recent lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Orleans Parish Prison is a hellhole. “Rapes, sexual assaults, and beatings are commonplace. Violence regularly occurs at the hands of sheriffs’ deputies, as well as other prisoners . . . . People living with serious mental illnesses languish without treatment, left vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse.” Which is why former inmate Josh Hobson says he went to the press while he was incarcerated on a domestic violence charge that was eventually dropped. According to Hobson, prison guards soon found out he was speaking to reporters, and they retaliated with violence:
The guards took him off his bunk in the middle of the night, he said, dragging him outside and viciously beating him, pounding his kidneys so hard he urinated blood the next day.
“The night they smacked me around and dragged me out, all I could think of in my head was, ‘Great, I’m a f—ing dead man.’ They were already telling me they were going to kill me so I figured that’s it. This is a wrap. Lights out. When I got the knee to the head, I figured it was a done deal.” . . .
When the guards were beating him, Hobson said they warned him between punches, “This will teach you to talk to people.”
Neither Mr. Hobson’s allegations, nor those in the SPLC lawsuit have been proved in a court of law, but there is good reason to believe that allegations of widespread abusive conditions in the New Orleans prison are credible. The U.S. Marshall’s service recently removed all federal inmates from the prison, and the Department of Justice released a report in 2009 detailing unconstitutional conditions such as widespread violence and neglect of the mentally ill.