Description/Abstract of your Event:
Referred to during the election campaign as “the shame of our state,” the non-unanimous jury scheme will no longer be used in Louisiana courts, but it was not applied retroactively. So the approximately 2,000 people serving 10-2 sentences will die in prison unless the law can “get all the way right,” as these writers advocate. The state is not cooperating and is sealing all jury polling records to hide the truth of the Black lives unjustly taken and still incarcerated by the non-unanimous jury scheme. Until Louisiana’s state Constitution was amended in the November 2018 election, Louisiana was the only state in the union where a person could be condemned to a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole by a non-unanimous jury vote of 10 out of 12 jurors voting to convict – also known as a 10-2 verdict. This practice not only undermines justice by violating the standard of proof of beyond reasonable doubt, which accounts for Louisiana being a leading state in exonerations, but its origin is a direct iolation of our guaranteed 14th Amendment right to equal protection of law under the United States Constitution. The purpose of the “non-unanimous jury scheme” was for white Louisianians to silence and render African Americans powerless in the judicial process. The basis of their ideology was that African Americans were an ignorant people who should be subservient to whites. nitially, the law allowed for two Blacks to sit on a jury, but to ensure their vote would not count, it required only nine of 12 jurors to convict. At the 1972 Constitutional Convention, to resolve some disagreements about the old law, a compromise was reached that 10 out of 12 jurors could still find guilt. Since slavery was abolished and only two African Americans were allowed on juries, the non-unanimous jury scheme would legally allow for the reintroduction of slavery by assuring convictions for Blacks, while guaranteeing no convictions for whites. Initially, the law allowed for two Blacks to sit on a jury, but to ensure their vote ...the “mission” had been to “establish the supremacy of the white race in this state.” Louisiana’s long standing practice of judicial racial discrimination is a statement that Black lives don’t matter in the State of Louisiana.
When the issue of the non-unanimous jury scheme was brought before the legislative committee in early 2018, one of the white members of the District Attorney’s Association stated, “It is what it is!” That statement angered some Black representatives; however, in the same fashion, this is exactly what those representatives said to the many people still incarcerated by the non-unanimous jury scheme, when they rewrote the law. In other words, slavery is no longer legal in the state of Louisiana but you can still keep the slaves that you already have. So the new law won’t apply to those already incarcerated whose appeal processes have been finalized. The illusion of white supremacy is rooted so deep in the state of Louisiana that even today’s Black reformers – advocates and lawmakers – would rather tap dance around an issue before they can summon the courage to stand firm and uphold the truth about African American struggles. The 10-2 issue is about more than just the non-unanimous jury scheme. It also encompasses a wide range of racially discriminatory practices that target African Americans in the state. Rather than talk reparations, by changing the law, state officials are acting as if no harm was done.
To further add insult to injury, the courts are now sealing all jury polling records to hide the truth of all the Black lives unjustly taken and still incarcerated by the non-unanimous jury scheme. Now, representing the lead case in a class action civil rights violation against the state of Louisiana is Rev. Errol Victor Sr. A recent press release by the “Burning Bush” editorial reads as follows: “One thousand African American prisoners of Louisiana State Penitentiary are expected to join together in the removal and habeas in the United States Eastern District Federal Court in New Orleans, Case No. 18-10537, Rev. Errol Victor Sr., L.S., v. State of Louisiana. Rev. Victor avers that these prisoners are African American descendants who have been denied rights that arise under federal law providing for specific civil rights stated in terms of racial equality. ...“This is the last stance and second civil rights movement,” declares Rev. Victor. “The criminal justice system and law enforcement – the prison system – is the last racial stronghold in America that African Americans and people of color have to break the yoke and overcome before truly abolishing slavery and finally accomplishing the goal of complete human dignity, independence and equality.”
UPDATE: Another 230 African American Louisiana state prisoners have joined, bringing the bringing the total to date to 461 and counting.