Rally Against Killing the Innocent

On October 2, 2023, Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO) gathered with exonerees and their families, elected officials, religious leaders, community members, and other organizations on the steps of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court for the Rally Against Killing The Innocent in commemoration of the 10th International Wrongful Conviction Day.

The Rally called attention to the innocent executed by the State of Louisiana, the innocent exonerated from Louisiana’s death row, and the innocent currently on Louisiana’s death row.  The crowd urged the Governor and our elected and appointed leaders to stand up for the innocent on Louisiana’s death row by granting clemency to everyone on death row.   This is just and common sense given the grave risk that an innocent person may be executed.   Twelve people have already been exonerated from Louisiana’s death row.

At the Rally, exonerees Raymond Flanks, Yusef Salaam, and Shareef Cousin urged the crowd of 200+ people who gathered to show support for clemency  to never give up and to amplify the voices of those on death row.   Sister Helen Prejean wisely spoke about how a system created by men will never be mistake or bias free; therefore, commuting death sentences to life is humane and necessary.  Jason Flom of the Wrongful Conviction podcast listed the names of innocent people currently on death row across United Stated and named innocent people who were executed by the government.   Daughter of the great boxing legend Muhammad Ali, Khaliah Ali, spoke about how she is advocating for clemency just as her father would have done if he was alive.  Finally, State Senator Royce Duplessis powerfully closed the Rally, urging people to use their power and voice to stand for justice and urge their elected leaders to reflect their values.

Following the Rally, on Tuesday, October 3, 2023, the Parole Board and the Attorney General entered into a settlement that prevents nearly all clemency hearings from moving forward.   The Parole Board was represented by an attorney appointed by the Attorney General.

What the Attorney General has done can be undone by the Governor because the Governor as the ultimate plenary power to order the Parole Board to hold clemency hearings. The Attorney General cannot prevent the Governor from doing so.

More details about how the Attorney General is attempting to derail the clemency hearings for people on death row through coercive illegal maneuvers, please see articles from The Guardian and The Times Picayune.

Governor John Bel Edwards has the power to direct and order the Parole Board to have the clemency hearings, and he should exercise that important power now.  Today.

Write to the Governor now.  Tell the Governor to take heart and do the right thing and order clemency hearings to be held by the Parole Board. Do not wait. Do this today; otherwise, we risk killing an innocent person in our fraught death penalty system.