ACLU Applauds Louisiana Governor for Calling on Board of Pardons to Review Clemency Petitions

Affiliate: ACLU of Louisiana
August 10, 2023 12:00 pm

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BATON ROUGE, La. — This week, Gov. Edwards exercised his constitutionally provided executive authority to call on the Louisiana Board of Pardons to review the clemency petitions of the 56 persons on death row. The American Civil Liberties Union applauds Gov. Edwards for taking the necessary step to bend the moral arc towards justice.

Statement from Yasmin Cader, deputy legal director at the ACLU and director of the Trone Center for Justice and Equality:

“The death penalty represents the worst excesses of the American legal system – it normalizes harsh sentences, perpetuates racial disparities, and wastes enormous financial resources on an inhumane punishment that fails to prevent violence and harm. It’s no different in Louisiana, where Black people are vastly overrepresented on death row and amongst those exonerated for wrongful convictions.

“We commend Gov. Edwards for leading with humanity and using his constitutionally granted authority to ask that the Pardon Board review the 56 pending clemency applications of Louisiana’s death-row prisoners. To begin mending our archaic, broken, and faulty systems of punishment, we need more of the compassionate leadership Gov. Edwards demonstrated this week. We urge the Pardon Board to respond to the governor’s request by promptly reviewing the applications and standing up for principles of justice.”

The request from Gov. Edwards comes less than a month after the Pardon Board turned away applications from 56 people on death row in Louisiana. To stop the clemency application review process in its tracks, Louisiana Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Jeff Landry issued a nonbinding advisory opinion to the Pardon Board claiming the clemency applications were not correctly filed and therefore should not be considered. After an administrative hearing, the board decided to set aside the applications, ensuring they were not reviewed based on merit. Now, the decision to grant commutations to allow the 56 people facing capital punishment to instead serve life in prison requires both the Pardon Board’s recommendation and the governor’s acceptance of the recommendation.

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