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Settlement delivers blow to death row clemency effort; hospital launches maternal mental health unit

Across the Gulf South, parents’ organizations have been leading efforts to ban books they say are inappropriate for children and teens. But libraries and bookstores are pushing back, celebrating Banned Books Week. The Gulf States Newsroom’s Drew Hawkins andMaya Miller report on efforts to celebrate the books that have been removed from the shelves.

In June, nearly all of Louisiana’s 57 death row inmates filed clemency applications with the Louisiana Board of Pardons, asking Gov. John Bel Edwards to commute their sentences to life in prison. Edwards declined to commute the sentences, but asked the state’s Committee on Parole to set clemency hearings for the inmates – and publicly announced that he supports abolishing the death penalty.

But the clemency effort was brought to an abrupt halt when prosecutors struck a deal with the state pardons board to consider only five clemency applications, at most. This came after a Baton Rouge judge dismissed a lawsuit that sought to halt all 55 clemency requests.

James Finn, who covers state politics for The Times-Picayune / The Advocate, joins us for more about this blow to the historic death row clemency effort – and what it means for the incarcerated people at the center of the movement.

In September, Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge announced that it will open Louisiana’s first inpatient maternal mental health unit. The unit will serve pregnant and postpartum patients in an effort to increase maternal health care in a state that consistently has higher than average maternal complications and mortality.

Woman’s Hospital president and CEO Rene Ragas, and Cheri Johnson, the hospital’s executive vice president and chief nursing officer, join us to discuss the groundbreaking clinic.

Today’s episode of Louisiana Considered was hosted by Karen Henderson. Our managing producer is Alana Schreiber and assistant producer is Aubry Procell. Our engineer is Garrett Pittman.

You can listen to Louisiana Considered Monday through Friday at 12 and 7 p.m. It’s available on Spotify, Google Play and wherever you get your podcasts. 

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Alana Schreiber is the managing producer for the live daily news program, Louisiana Considered. She comes to WRKF from KUNC in Northern Colorado, where she worked as a radio producer for the daily news magazine, Colorado Edition. She has previously interned for Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul and The Documentary Group in New York City.