In 2018, Governor John Bel Edwards passed many criminal justice reform bills and amendments that will be voted on in November.
This Fall, every citizen in the state will have the opportunity to vote on whether we should remain one of only two in the nation in which a citizen can be convicted by a unanimous jury.
In forty-eight other states and in federal courts across the country, a conviction requires a unanimous vote – all jurors must agree on whether a prosecutor has met the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Louisiana is the only state where someone can be sentenced to life without parole without a unanimous decision of a jury. Non-unanimous juries allow conviction even where two citizens have reasonable doubts about the evidence. According to the National Registry of Exoneration, we have the second highest rate of people wrongfully convicted and exoneration per capita. Many believe its unreliable and people should be aware of what’s going on.
“Educate our community members on what this actually means. What’s actually going to be on the ballot in November. To get people registered to vote because it is our voice,” said Kelly Garrett, the Acadiana Lead for Louisianans for Prison Alternatives. “We have a right to vote and we want people to vote and actually know what they’re voting on. Believe it or not, whether you’re directly involved in the criminal justice system or not, you’re involved.”
Others believe Louisiana is making strides in reform efforts. “Statistically speaking, we can see the results. Previously, Louisiana was number one in the country for incarceration. We have now moved to number two, which some would say is not a significant change, but I would agree it’s a change in the right direction,” said Clyde Gabriel, an advocate for prison reform efforts.
An informational public forum about the amendment is taking place Wednesday, August 22 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the City Club at River Ranch.
Here is a list of the hosts:
The Honorable Gerald Boudreaux
The Honorable Julie Emerson – The Honorable Terry Landry
The Honorable Blake Miguez – The Honorable Vince Pierre
The Unanimous Jury Coalition
LA Republican Judiciary PAC
One Acadiana – Louisiana Criminal Defense Lawyers – Right on Crime
The Pelican Institute – Louisiana for Prison for Alternatives
Former Sheriff Mike Neustrom- Ed Tarpley – Frank Neuner
Norris Henderson – Randy Haynie – Blake David – James Parkerson Roy
Ryan Haynie – Mike Skinner – Chip and Jennifer Jackson
Bill Fenstermaker – Don Washington – Donelson T. Caffery III
Kaliste “Joseph” Saloom IV – Richard Broussard – Greg Davis
Clay Allen – Gary and Thelma McGoffin – Don Cravins