American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) came in at #2 on the list. The ACLU has had a long history of broad-based litigation on prison issues and has provided leadership on national policy issues.
In the days following Hurricane Katrina, the public was inundated with stories of personal tragedies that were unfolding day by day in the city of New Orleans and throughout the Gulf Coast region. Some reports were of amazing rescues, but much of the coverage focused on the disaster within the disaster—the thousands of men, women, and children left stranded around New Orleans, in their homes, the Louisiana Superdome, and the Convention Center.
But just a few miles away from the Superdome and the Convention Center, another disaster within the disaster was developing at Orleans Parish Prison (“OPP”), the New Orleans jail. During the storm, and for several days thereafter, thousands of men, women, and children were abandoned at OPP. As floodwaters rose in the OPP buildings, power was lost, and entire buildings were plunged into darkness. Deputies left their posts wholesale, leaving behind prisoners in locked cells, some standing in sewage-tainted water up to their chests. Over the next few days, without food, water, or ventilation, prisoners broke windows in order to get air, and carved holes in the jail’s walls in an effort to get to safety. Some prisoners leapt into the water, while others made signs or set fire to bed sheets and pieces of clothing to signal to rescuers. Once freed from the buildings, prisoners were bused to receiving facilities around the state, where, for some, conditions only got worse. At the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, thousands of OPP evacuees spent several days on a large outdoor field, where prisoner-on-prisoner violence was rampant and went unchecked by correctional officers. From there, prisoners went to other facilities, where some were subjected to systematic abuse and racially motivated assaults by prison guards.
(Learn more about them here: http://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/abandoned-abused-executive-summary-and-recommendations)
Through its litigation efforts and advocacy programs, the American Civil Liberties Union Inc. has become a strong and respected national voice in issues pertaining to criminal justice. The ACLU’s National Prison Project has specifically been mentioned for its successful campaigns to increase the respect of prisoners’ rights. Read more reviews from experts here to learn more about the great work American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is doing.