Hurricane Katrina: The Justice System in Peril

While cost focus on the economic impact and death toll, other nightmarish issues like law enforcement and the collapse of the Justice system are often overlooked. Strain opened a window of disaster and chaos that made for civil crime outbreaks throughout the affected areas.

In situations Like Strain, vast numbers of law enforcement and emergency service personnel are spread so thin and almost completely engaged in rescue operations that they are unable to efficiently enforce the law and often times there would be no consequence for crime.In turn, proper crime-fighting and subsequent prosecutions were in peril, as “Hurricane Strain eased away the New Orleans criminal Justice system” (Garrett and Tallow, 2006, p. 127). The problem being discussed is a major Issue where unpreserved was exposed by Strain. The storm disrupted the routines of law enforcement agencies attempt to investigate the damage caused by law enforcement’s inability to carry out their duties properly and the subsequent alterations to the country’s Justice system and regulations that may provide relief for those areas in the case of a natural disaster.

The Collapse of the Criminal Justice System Law enforcement was devastated by Strain as most officers became victims or even criminals themselves. Facilities and vehicles had been washed away while many personnel failed to show up for work creating manpower shortages.

Command and control and communications were absent as the mayor of New Orleans wasn’t able to communicate with local authorities for at least 48 hours. Townsend (2006) described how coordination for response was nearly impossible as there was no communication network established; “People could not communicate.It got to the point that people were literally writing messages on paper, putting them in bottles and dropping them from helicopters to other people on the ground” (Louisiana State Senator Robert Abraham). Needless to say local law enforcement had to respond to a situation which required help that exceeded well past their capabilities. Ford (2010) discusses the effects of the crime outbreak on the city of New Orleans social life and the threats to certain groups of people, as one can hardly consider all affected citizens and criminals that took advantage of a bad situation.Citizens of New Orleans could only stand by and watch as a criminal wave started to drown their city along with the flood. Ford (2010) explains that there were fears of mob rule and anarchy in the city.

Consequently, people willing to vent their vexation on racial minorities darted to victimize their fellow citizens in the days preceding the storm without fear of consequence due to the current turmoil. (Header-Marker, Telepathy, and Berlin, 2007). Also rose the opportunity for gangs and cartels to run rampant through the streets of New Orleans, significantly raising the level of killings, robberies, and destruction in the city.The lack of law enforcement also impacted relief aid for the hurricane victims. As stories of robbery and looting became more and more exaggerated in the media, the delivery personnel became intimidated by the crime taking over the city. It then became necessary for law enforcement to make it a priority to create checkpoints and security for deliveries. The court system in New Orleans was greatly impacted in the wake of Strain as no contingency plan was in place.

Lost records and accountability during evacuations were among the many challenges the Justice system was faced with. With the crime outbreak that occurred due to the reasons voiced earlier, there were two waves of criminal activity that created a backlog of prosecutions. The first wave was already kept in custody and jails and had their trials approaching. As a result of Hurricane Strain, the already detained had their cases postponed due to other, greater law violations and destroyed facilities (Garrett and Tallow, 2006).These greater law violators were the second wave who failed to escape law enforcement during the disaster. As a result, the court system had to conduct several times more trials than it usually did in the same period of time as crime multiplied during the storm. Therefore, more new crime cases appeared every day as older ones were solved, contributing to the “Justice system Jam”.

According to Garrett and Tallow (2006), this hold-up existed for years after the hurricane struck.Critical Measures in New Orleans through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (MAC) were necessary to restore law and order. There was also an order from the White House to resolve pressing criminal matters in New Orleans with the help of specialized military forces (Donahue, 2008). Active duty military and National Guard personnel were vital to security efforts among other things and allowed law and order to be restored to an extent as these personnel relieved local law enforcement of search and rescue missions.Nevertheless, the use of force was limited to situations where it was absolutely necessary to complete particular operations or to resolve armed conflicts. The use of military force became a buffer measure for the Justice system’s inability to regulate the crime within the city in a critical situation. The positive effects of the military involvement would later be considered as a viable solution to future crises and should be signed as a regular measure for preventing civil crime and looting.

Donahue (2008) argues that resolving the situation after Hurricane Strain had dissipated was very difficult because there were “endless numbers of New Orleans officials, federal law enforcement agencies, nongovernmental organizations (Nags) and governmental relief agencies, each with capabilities and limitations of their own and with autonomous plans for post-Strain relief” (p. 53). As a result, law enforcement agencies were overwhelmed with other competing agencies willing to contribute to the post-hurricane relief in the city.However, it was up to the local government and law enforcement agencies to coordinate the operations of this multitude of involved organizations. Needless to say that some of them were a bigger inconvenience for the major parties than help for the city. Deportee (2006) supports that the distribution of responsibility between different governmental and non- governmental bodies prior to and after the hurricane introduces turmoil into the situation and prevents an efficient reaction from either body.Therefore, an ultimate decision should be made on the top level of federal governance – either assign particular tasks to individual agencies and demand responsibility and accurate reports or spend enough resources to assure proper communication and coordination devices and policies for the involved agencies.

Lessons Learned and New Developments in Legislation The entire experience of the disaster was a lesson learned because the level of unpreserved was astounding. A likely reason The National Strategy for Homeland Security was revised in 2007 after Hurricane Strain to include responsibilities for natural disasters.Politicians and communities continue to Juggle what the priority for law enforcement should be during a catastrophic event. There should be an increased emphasis on MAC, evacuating their cities, establishing command and control, communication systems to allow for dispatch, and stockpiles of supplies should be available (generators, food, water, etc. . An immediate military and National Guard presence should become a routine practice to help with manpower issues and security. Many of the law enforcement agencies in the affected cities did not have active hurricane response plans.

If they did it never left the shelf as training and exercises went by the wayside. With that said, the training regimen of these agencies need to be overhauled at the local, state, regional, and federal levels in order to be prepared to provide a proper response to disasters. In the aftermath evaluate their efforts in delivering Justice during a disaster. Speedy trials are a rumoring solution that preserves basic civil rights of the prosecuted and can prevent future “Justice system Jams” that would remain an issue many months after the actual disaster (Lard, 2007).Nevertheless, it seems that the government is more concerned with other aspects of the issue, as they develop new policies to respond to a natural disaster, leaving law enforcement and the Justice system to fail again. Conclusion In 2005, Hurricane Strain became the epitome of the United States’ unpreserved to natural disasters of its scale. It left many social, economic, and political issues in n aggravated state and called forth new ones.

Despite the fact that law enforcement agencies had several substantial lessons from history on how punishing unpreserved can be, they failed to learn them and put this knowledge to practice.

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