The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Monday, August 14, 2006

Hurricane Katrina: No good deed goes unpunished.


If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to the original article about how crime in Houston is going through the roof, and much of it is being attributed to New Orleans evacuees.

What follows are some comments by a guy who lives near Houston, then then Yahoo article he refers to:

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Not only did the crime rate go up in Houston, TX (Harris County), but in areas close to us as well. On several instances schools in Beaumont had mass riots break out when Katrina "Evacuee" kids and Beaumont kids enaged in large scale fights. Don't get me wrong, the Beaumont kids doing the fighting were thugs too.

The other night on the news there was a story on a large apartment complex in Houston that the owners are having to sell because they can't afford to fix everything that the people (that they opened their doors to) broke or stole while living there. The conditions that some of these people, (term used loosley) left their apartments in was deplorable. Food, thrown around and mashed into the carpets, cigarette burns, missing sinks and appliances that were provided to help the "evacuees" adjust back to normal living was just the beginning of it.

Not to mention the robbery and assault rates that skyrocketed after our guests appeared. I really hated that the area I live in had to go through Hurricane Rita. It is never good to go through such devastation. It did provide one service to our community though, we got rid of about 85% of our Katrina evacuees. Hopefully the criminal justice system will do what it needs to with our most popular still remaining evacuees; their murder trials should be coming up soon.
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Katrina victims blamed for Houston crime
By PAUL J. WEBER, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 23 minutes ago

A letter to inmate No. 1352951 and a cell phone bill for $76.63, both found in a soggy New Orleans duplex ruined by Hurricane Katrina, led Louisiana bounty hunter James Martin to Texas.

Again.

It marked the seventh time since Katrina that Martin, whose pursuit of bail jumpers often begins with clues salvaged from abandoned New Orleans homes, has followed a trail to Texas.
"I don't think Texas really knows what they got," Martin said.

Katrina sent a lot of bad guys to Texas, as Houston is finding out.

Houston took in 150,000 evacuees — the most of any U.S. city — after Katrina struck on Aug. 29. Houston police believe the evacuees are partly responsible for a nearly 17.5 percent increase in homicides so far this year over the same period in 2005.

About 21 percent of Houston's 232 homicides through July 25 involved an evacuee as either a suspect or a victim, according to police, who attribute much of the bloodshed to fighting among rival New Orleans gang members.

"New Orleans allowed a lot of these guys to stay on the street for whatever reason or be picked up and released after 60 days," said Capt. Dale Brown, who oversees Houston's homicide division.

"Texas law, I don't want to say it's tougher, but we take these offenses very seriously."

Judge Robert Eckels, chief executive of Harris County, which includes Houston, said Katrina evacuees arrested in the Houston have cost the county's criminal justice system more than $18 million. In June, Texas Gov. Rick Perry sent $19.5 million to Houston to help pay for additional officers and overtime to police the city after Katrina.

The police and the Harris County sheriff's department said they have no figures on how many Katrina evacuees have been arrested. Houston police said misdemeanor and felony arrests overall actually dropped last fall from the same period a year earlier. But the sheriff's department reported a 41 percent increase in felony arrests in November from the year before.

"I think some saw (Katrina) as an opportunity," Martin's bounty-hunting partner, Michael Wright, said of evacuees who fled New Orleans with criminal records. "No one knows who they are over here."

Katrina evacuees received fair warning when they arrived in Houston. Days after the storm, Mayor Bill White went on television, flanked by Houston police, and welcomed Katrina's bedraggled survivors with a stern warning that a jail cell was waiting for anyone who crossed the line.

Evacuee Vincent Wilson, a leader of the Katrina Survivors Association, was impressed. He said that in New Orleans before Katrina, "everyone knows that if the jail's crowded you get a slap on the hand and get released."

Eckels predicted the county's worst guests will go home once their federal assistance dries up. And if many choose to stick around, the county will be ready: "We don't put up with it here. If you break the law, you're going to be prosecuted."
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