As hellholes go, there are few worse places in America than the Orleans Parish Prison.
New Orleans' teeming city jail first hit the radar of most Americans following Hurricane Katrina, when thousands of inmates were abandoned for days in flooded cells without food, water, ventilation, or electricity—some of them "standing in sewage-tainted water up to their chests," according to the ACLU. But OPP’s problems did not begin with Katrina, nor end in the storm's wake, when prisoners were shipped back to the jail's surviving buildings.
This week, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal class-action lawsuit on behalf of OPP's inmates. The 38-page complaint—which names as defendants Sheriff Marlin Gusman, along with the jail’s wardens and medical directors—describes a facility where prisoners "are at imminent risk of serious harm."