For the Good of the Gulf: UNC Law Winter/Spring Break Pro Bono Project

Monday, December 18, 2006

A City Still in Need

Thirteen hours in a van, two Wendy’s stops, and six states later, we arrived in New Orleans Sunday night. As we drove into the city last night, we saw the first signs of Katrina—entire neighborhoods still unoccupied and dark. Seeing those dark neighborhoods showed all of us just how much work was yet to be done.

As a member of our criminal group, I’ll be spending the week interviewing inmates in Orleans Parish Prison. We got our first glimpse into the state of the New Orleans legal system today when we met at the Office of the Public Defender for training. During training, we heard stories of inmates lost in the system, flooded evidence rooms, and a huge backlog of cases.

Many of the inmates that we will be interviewing have been held in prison without convictions longer than their sentence would last even if convicted. Our job is to conduct an interview with the inmate and compose a memo for the public defender assigned to the case. This way, the public defender will have a good head start when he or she gets the case.

Katrina may have hit over a year ago, but its impact still overwhelms the city. From the flood line marking the abandoned houses to the box of “Unidentified Floating Evidence” from the basement of the courthouse, the struggle for normalcy is far from over.

2 Comments:

  • Its so great to hear that UNC is back in the Big Easy. Have a fantastic week and do lots of good.

    -Vicki

    By Blogger Vicki Shabo, at 4:35 PM  

  • So glad you all got there safely! We're all looking forward to reading about your experiences!

    Sylvia Novinsky

    By Blogger Sylvia Novinsky, at 9:25 AM  

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