LOUISIANA (KADN) - A bill to allow 1,500 prisoners convicted by non-unanimous juries...A chance at post-conviction relief failed last week in the house judiciary committee.
House Bill 346 would have given those 1,500 men and women a chance to go before a parole board or even get new trials. Managing attorney at the promise of justice initiative Jamila Johnson says the fight isn’t over.
"We are not going anywhere and the family members in our communities who have loved ones who are incarcerated, they’re not giving up their fight to the state legislature," said Johnson in regard to the outcome.
The bill failed with a 4-7 vote with all four votes supporting the bill coming from democrats. Johnson says she and her clients were disappointed in the outcome.
"Looking at the state legislatures casting their votes, it was a tremendous disappointment to see the votes fall on party lines," she said.
There were more than an hour of testimonies from those in support of the bill, including one man who served 22 years for a crime he didn’t commit.
"The judiciary committee heard from Jermaine Hudson who was exonerated after having been wrongfully incarcerated as a result of a non-unanimous jury verdict," Johnson said.
Johnson says there are concerns with the accuracy of those convictions under the old Jim-Crow era law.
"So many of them lack eyewitness identification, have no forensic evidence, have significant conflicting testimony, and in many cases involve issues of self-defense."
Johnson says there are plans to reintroduce this house bill to the state legislature next year but they will continue to fight for these men and women, including 35 people from right here in Acadiana.
In the meantime, it will be left up to district attorneys to decide what to do about these cases that their offices prosecuted.