September 16, 2005
Judge Orders Release of Jailed Grandmother
By KEVIN MCGILL and JOHN SOLOMON
The Associated Press Friday, September 16, 2005; 8:21 AM
KENNER, La. -- A 73-year-old diabetic grandmother and church elder who fled Katrina's floodwaters for the safety of a hotel ended up in prison instead for more than two weeks _ all over a bite of food.
Police in this New Orleans suburb arrested Merlene Maten the day after the hurricane on charges she took $63.50 in goods from a looted deli. Though never before in trouble with the law, her bail was set at a stiff $50,000 and she was shipped away to a state penitentiary.
Family and eyewitnesses insist Maten's prison odyssey was unwarranted, claiming she only had gone to her car to get some sausage to eat when officers cuffed her in frustration, unable to catch younger looters at a nearby store.
This is ridiculous. Sometimes I wonder why common sense isnt common. Why was her bail set at 10 TIMES higher than standard bail for that offense? I pray that this doesn't impact her health.
Judge, SHAME ON YOU!