From a Haitian jail cell

Haitian inmates feel safe but worry about earthquake's destruction outside

This gallery collects all of our photos of the crisis in Haiti, starting with the most recent images and going back to the first photos that emerged after an earthquake hit the impoverished nation Jan. 12.
Monday, January 18, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI -- Emmanuele Guerrier has not seen her city since it fell, even though she has not left it.

She sits behind bars in a small, stark cell at the Judicial Police headquarters near the airport. There are a neatly made cot in the corner and a steel chair she has moved within inches of the rust-colored bars.

Given the destruction and death outside, the cell is at least a clean, relatively safe place. Only Guerrier, who said she was arrested Jan. 1 for spilling hot soup on her baby, is desperate for some sense of what has happened outside.

"I don't know whether my baby is alive," she said. "I don't know anything at all."

For now, Guerrier and the 18 other prisoners in adjoining cells can only imagine what has happened to the city around them.

The now-ruined judicial system has forgotten them, and they languish as the lowest priorities on a list of urgent needs.

Until then, Jean Wesner Pamphille is the man keeping them alive. A police officer by training, Pamphille scours a city of dwindling resources to feed the prisoners in his care.

A lone bare bulb lights his office and the suite of cells, which sit at the end of a corridor of empty offices with signs declaring "Homicide" and "Criminal Investigations."

"They don't know anything that's happening. They don't know if families are alive or dead," Pamphille said. "And I am sick and worried, too, because I have to stay here with them."

-- Scott Wilson

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