Prisoners over citizens

A reader sent me this link with the subject line of Prisoners over citizens….your thoughts?

He seems to be referring to this:

On the highway overpasses and underneath the highways as well, people are trying to find a spot for themselves. Prison buses are streaming by to evacuate prisoners and a lot of people are very, very upset that they aren’t getting help, but the prisoners are.

Now, I’m not generally inclined to be terribly sympathetic to convicts. But in this case I believe that prison buses should be used to take care of the prisoners first because, as prisoners, they cannot do anything to take care of themselves. They obviously could not exercise the initiative to clear the hurricane zone ahead of time nor could they do so once disaster struck. They are totally at the mercy of the prison system. They cannot even crowd onto the overpasses to “find a spot for themselves”.

Even the poverty-stricken, car-less and money-less though they may be, have at least a modicum of capability to take charge of their own situation. The prisoners have no such opportunity and will never get it.

So that’s what Murdoc thinks. Thanks for passing on the link.

UPDATE: I wrote in the comments section of an earlier post:

A big part of the problem is the fact that there doesn’t really seem to have been any plan to evacuate those that could not evacuate themselves, leaving huge numbers of “legit” refugees in the city trying to fend for themselves.

The sheer scale of the “legit refugees” guarantees that any support system will be immediately overwhelmed, leading to the stealing of food and such for survival.

If (big “if”) something could/would have been done to get 50% or 75% of these “legit” refugees out of the disaster zone before the disaster struck, there would have been far fewer women and children taking food to survive, and differentiating between them and the true “looters” would be far easier.

Not to mention that many of the dead people would still be alive.

I think once the dust settles and the flood waters recede we’re going to begin to realize that a lot of what’s happening is not really an accident but the result of bad plans or the failure to plan altogether.

What struck at the time and seems to be increasing in importance as the days go on is the fact that I didn’t hear one word about city buses being used to evacuate those that couldn’t evacuate themselves. This wasn’t some freak event that took everyone by surprise. As far as I was able to gather, the basic reaction by the city of New Orleans was “every man for himself”.

I’m not a big proponent of “welfare state” thinking, but I readily admit that government does have certain responsibilities to the governed. Saving the lives of those unable to save themselves is one of them. I don’t think the poor are entitled to jobs and homes and insurance and other perks due to this natural disaster simply because they’re poor, but they certainly deserve a damn bus ride out of the path of destruction.


  1. Even the poverty-stricken, car-less and money-less though they may be, have at least a modicum of capability to take charge of their own situation.’ If they had the motivation and will-power to take charge of their own situation, they would not be car-less, money-less, burdens on society.

  2. Bram: I agree with you to a large degree, though I hope you admit that a large percentage of them have been dealt bad hands and not everyone has the wherewithal to dig themselves out the hole their parents (or other bastards) put them in. That being said, I don’t care who you are or what your situation is…as an American you get a ride out of the zone of destruction. And I have not problems with getting the illegals out of harm’s way, either. (However, their bus would be headed back to ol’ Mexico.) There are many dregs of and burdens on society that I would never spare a penny for, but they should get a ride away from ground zero even if they don’t ‘deserve’ it.

  3. doc, the time to hitch a ride out was when the evacuation order was issued – on the 27th. I’m 5-states away and I heard it loud and clear. What is society’s responsibilty to voluntary ‘stay-behinds?’ How do we discern the intentions of those who chose to stick around? I admit some couldn’t get out due to poverty, but, heck, a Grey-Hound ticket to Houston isn’t all that much, and doesn’t LA have public transport? Some gang-bangers stuck around just to loot and riot. The young and ‘invulnerable’ just didn’t take the warnings seriously. And I’ll bet some good ole boys stayed home just to protect the Harley in the garage. None have really good reasons. Now we all have to worry about them. FoxNews is reporting ‘riots’ in the Super Dome, an apartment fire downtown, and goons shooting at rescue helicopters. Whatever their motivations or situation in life, those who defied the evacuation order have increased the magnitude of this disaster for all of us. -Steve

  4. steve: Yes, absolutely, the time to get out was BEFORE the hurricane hit. That’s exactly what I mean. As for the capability of many to actually do so, I’m not so sure. I think free bus rides 150 miles north (or something) would have been in order. That’s about as far as I’m really willing to commit, but I think something *should* have been done for those that wanted it. As you say, many would still have stayed. But the percentage of willing stay-behinds would have been far higher and the drain on rescue efforts would have been far lower.

  5. Can’t argue with that. A lot of the mess is due to ‘bad plans or the failure to plan altogether.’ I’d like to know just what the prescribed plan was, including all contingencies. ( And prisoners didn’t have the choice to evacuate at will so I’m with you there, too.) Can’t be for lack of money. I just heard the White House spokesman say that this year $300M was spent on the region’s flood abatement system, he added that billions* had been spent over recent years. -Steve *goin’ from memory of Foxnews coverage of news conference, I think he said $4.5 Billion over the last five years for the ‘region.’

  6. From what I’ve been able to see, they had plans for levee breaks. They had plans for hurricanes. What they lacked were plans for a levee break *after* a hurricane. Personally, I think that over the decades the powers that be have looked at what it would take to really deal with the problem(s) several times and each time they blanched and backed away quickly.

  7. I agree that everyone in New Orleans should get a ride. However, it may take some uncharacteristically responsible behavior from some of these people just to get themselves on that bus. Looting and shooting in New Orleans may be more fun than eating MRE’s in Houston.

  8. New Orleans is a fairly poor city in terms of jobs. There are a lot of people who could not afford drive or bus out, or at least would not have hotel money if they could. They may also be helping family members who for whatever reason can’t travel at all. Most certainly, one could not realisitically walk out of what is a waterlocked city.

  9. IMO the key issue is denial. Every other year or so, you see the sobbing people made homeless from river X flooding. All vow to rebuild…. and a few years later another flood… Does anyone decide to impliment a plan to prohibit housing in flood planes? Prohibit people from living on fault lines?? The real issue in my opinion, is ok, New Orleans has been hit hard. Chances are it would take years for it too really recover. The real question should be, should we really rebuild it? Its below sea level, and is a sitting duck for future storms, or even global warming. I would evacuate the city, blow the levies, and have a 30 year plan for evironmental damage abatement and wet lands restoration. I would keep a narrow causway for maintaining oil production and river management. This would help protect the inland cities from future storms and put the rebuilding funds to good use. Personally I would really hate to see a repeat of this senario in a couple of years.

  10. Ask and ye shall receive: Glenn Reynolds posts a link to the New Orleans Hurricane Emergency Preparedness Plan. The Regional Transit Authority was tasked with supplying transportation, preparing ‘special vehicles’ in advance of disasters, and ‘implement special service’ if necessary. The tasks delegated to the Public Transit: V. TASKS D. Regional Transit Authority * Supply transportation as needed in accordance with the current Standard Operating Procedures. * Place special vehicles on alert to be utilized if needed. * Position supervisors and dispatch evacuation buses. * If warranted by scope of evacuation, implement additional service. * Supply transportation as needed in accordance with the current Standard Operating Procedures. * Place special vehicles on alert to be utilized if needed. * Position supervisors and dispatch evacuation buses. * If warranted by scope of evacuation, implement additional service. Observing the mess a week after the mayor first issued his evacution order, the New Orleans Evacuation plan looks like a U.N.S.C resolution. This is the failure of an incompetent munipality to enact its own evacuation plan. -Steve