Hurricane Katrina Victimization as a State Crime of Omission
Several popular narratives assign responsibility to a host of political officials on the local, state, and federal levels for the excess human suffering stemming from Hurricane Katrina. The three main goals of this article are to (1) summarize these claims and situate them within the burgeoning literature on state crime in criminology, (2) discern what victims of the hurricane subjectively identify as the source(s) of their victimization, and (3) compare the latter and the former in order to demonstrate the appropriateness of conceptualizing the excess suffering of Hurricane Katrina victims as a state crime of omission. We explore these three subjects through documentary analysis and interviews with thirteen victims of Hurricane Katrina. Major findings are that all of the interviewees express profound dissatisfaction with various state actions and inactions before, during, and after Katrina in ways consistent with the documentary and polling data. This constellation of similar claims and evidence along with the obvious social injury caused by multiple state failures provide the basis for conceptualizing governmental negligence in the context of Katrina as a state crime of omission.