Organizational Statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)
Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO) frees innocent people and those serving unjust sentences. IPNO acknowledges and works to combat racial injustice in the criminal legal system. From slavery, convict leasing, racial terror lynchings, Jim Crow laws and racial segregation, the war on drugs, militarization of the police, to mass incarceration, Black people in Louisiana and America have been systemically and systematically oppressed. There is no clearer example of this than that the largest prison in the state, Angola, is a former slave plantation where Black people are disproportionately incarcerated and still made to pick cotton by guards with guns on horseback.
We acknowledge that non-Black people may also be harmed by these vast and entrenched systems even though they were designed to control and subjugate Black people.
Given the history of our state and country and the current realities of the criminal legal system, diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential to our work redressing the causes of and advocating for the eradication of wrongful convictions and unjust sentences that disproportionately impact Black people.
IPNO recognizes and celebrates Diversity within our organization and throughout our lives. We believe that diversity – of race, gender, background, experience, identity, and beyond – can respectfully bring differing voices together, for the betterment of all.
IPNO is committed to Equity, in concept and practice. We seek to recognize, understand, and counteract social, political, and legal structures that create, maintain, and perpetuate the inequality of, injustice for, and oppression of marginalized populations. Equitable perspectives and practices promote and seek to guarantee fairness, access to resources and opportunities, and just outcomes for all.
Inclusion reflects the value that IPNO places on Diversity and Equity. IPNO seeks to create and maintain an organization that values the diversity of its staff, community, and clients. We work to maintain and develop a culture that is welcoming, recognizes inherent worth, and fosters belonging – both internally in our organization and externally in our justice movement and our communities.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core and essential values of IPNO. We pledge to uphold and further diversity, equity, and inclusion, as defined above, in every aspect of our work. We recognize that the nature of injustice can change; power and privilege shift over time. We, therefore, commit to making this document a living document that will be reconsidered and revised periodically. Our drive to attain a diverse, equitable, and inclusive work place, criminal legal system, and society is unending.
 Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), which has documented the widespread instances of lynching of Black people in the South from of the end of Reconstruction in 1877 to 1950, describes the lynchings as “racial terror lynchings” and we are adopting that accurate description of what occurred to thousands of Black people during this period. The EJI report, “Lynching in America” notes that Louisiana is one of the six states with the largest number of racial terror lynchings in the country, with Caddo, Ouachita, Bossier, Iberia, and Tangipahoa parishes leading in the number of racial terror lynchings. See https://lynchinginamerica.eji.org/report/.