ACLU of Louisiana Statement on DA Jason Williams Granting New Trials to Those Convicted by Split Juries

Affiliate: ACLU of Louisiana
February 26, 2021 3:00 pm

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The ACLU of Louisiana released the following statement commending New Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams for granting new trials to 22 defendants convicted by split juries between the years 1974 and 2014. The decision is aimed at repairing generations of damage caused by Louisiana’s criminal justice system, which has allowed non-unanimous convictions in the state since 1898.

“We are elated to hear that Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams is moving forward with waiving all objections to new trials for 22 incarcerated people convicted by split juries,” said Alanah Odoms, ACLU of Louisiana executive director. “For years, Black people in Louisiana have been buried beneath a criminal legal system that is rooted in slavery, taking its current form in the late 19th century when white supremacists wanted to increase the supply of free prison labor and nullify the voting power of black jurors. This system has used many racist tactics to keep Black people in the South subjugated and dehumanized based on the color of our skin to a degree unmatched by any other form of American discrimination. Allowing a person to be convicted of a crime without a unanimous jury is just one of them.

But now, Louisiana has an opportunity to enter a brand-new chapter. We have a bold, progressive District Attorney who is committed to ending racial injustice and repairing the devastation that it’s caused our Black communities. We’re thrilled to see DA Williams making progress in restoring our community’s confidence in the criminal legal system. This decision is a clear example of his commitment to dismantling the legal infrastructure of Jim Crow and replacing it with a legal infrastructure designed to ensure equality and remedy both individual and systemic instances of discrimination.”

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