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Advocacy Group Calls For The Release Of 1,500 People In Louisiana Prisons

Travis Lux

The Promise of Justice Initiative is fighting for the release of more than 1,500 people in Louisiana prisons.

This spring the United States Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that allowed for non-unanimous jury verdicts, calling the practice unconstitutional and based on racist policies. Louisiana voters had previously struck down the law in 2018 with an amendment to the State Constitution.

It means people can no longer be convicted without a unanimous jury, but many sentenced under the old law still remain imprisoned.

Leaders with the Promise of Justice Initiative, a New Orleans-based nonprofit, said the Supreme Court ruling should retroactively invalidate non-unanimous juries. It has filed a brief with the court demanding the change. It has also filed 30 petitions challenging the convictions of those who remain incarcerated under the nullified law.

Members of the group held a press conference Wednesday to make the announcement.  

“As people across the country rise up to tear down statues and monuments against white supremacy, we cannot forget the most racist monument of all — the more than 1,500 people imprisoned and separated from their families by Jim Crow juries,” Managing Attorney Jamila Johnson said. “Until every person imprisoned by a Jim Crow jury is freed or given their day in court, this shameful monument to white supremacy will continue to stand.”

Among the people the group is fighting for are Miranda Jordan and her mother. Jordan said her mother was unfairly sentenced after killing an intruder who threatened their family, and jurors who opposed the strict sentencing were silenced. 

“They decided to ignore that and do something unconstitutional, take my mother away from her children,” she said.  As a result, she was separated from her siblings and ended up living on the street.

Tegan has reported on the coast for WWNO since 2015. In this role she has covered a wide range of issues and subjects related to coastal land loss, coastal restoration, and the culture and economy of Louisiana’s coastal zone, with a focus on solutions and the human dimensions of climate change. Her reporting has been aired nationally on Planet Money, Reveal, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace, BBC, CBC and other outlets. She’s a recipient of the Pulitzer Connected Coastlines grant, CUNY Resilience Fellowship, Metcalf Fellowship, and countless national and regional awards.

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