The Advocate: Death Penalty Deters Crime? Facts and Most Criminologists Beg to Differ

Michael L. Radelet and The Promise of Justice Initiative's Ben Cohen weigh in on the failure of using the death penalty as a deterrent in The Advocate

The article sums up how capital punishment has failed in Louisiana according to 95% of criminologists. 

"Not only is Louisiana’s death penalty expensive, it is particularly error-prone. As Frank Baumgartner and others have noted, some 82 percent of Louisiana death sentences imposed since 1976 have been reversed. And with last month’s exoneration of Rodricus Crawford, 11 individuals sentenced to death in Louisiana have been released from prison without any charges whatsoever. By any measure, Louisiana taxpayers are getting scammed."

Read the article here


Update: PJI Seeks to Challenge Louisiana's Non-Unanimous Jury Rule as Unconstitutional

Louisiana is only one of two states to allow felony convictions by only a portion of a jury. This unjust practice stemmed from post-Reconstruction racism and is a leading cause for wrongful convictions. 

PJI's petition asks the court to determine whether the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Sixth Amendment guarantee that the truth of every accusation against a defendant should be confirmed by the unanimous suffrage of twelve of his equals and neighbors.

Read the petition attached below. 

PJI Staff Runs the Crescent City Classic

Congrats to PJI staff members who ran the Crescent City Classic this weekend to support PJI's Client and Family Assistance Project and raised $1,588.00. The project connects families with loved ones who are incarcerated, strengthening Louisiana communities.  

Donations can still be made in honor of the runners by clicking the picture below or donating directly to PJI here

Caddo District Attorney’s Office will not Retry Rodricus Crawford



“It’s a good day for justice,” says Ben Cohen, associate counsel for Rodricus Crawford. Today,

the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office announced that they will not retry Rodricus

Crawford in connection with the death of his infant son.

Mr. Crawford was wrongfully convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death when his

one-year-old son, Roderius, died in 2012. Roderius was suffering from pneumonia at the time of

his death, and bacteria in his blood indicated that the death was due to sepsis. After his trial,

more evidence was discovered that called the prosecution’s case into serious question.

While so many lawyers, advocates, and supporters stood with Rodricus, the Louisiana Supreme

Court reversed his conviction on November 16, 2016 after hearing lead counsel Cecelia Kappel’s

oral argument.

This case has always been about injustice and the disproportionate use of the death penalty in

Caddo Parish. Justice Breyer recently cited this arbitrary use of capital punishment as a reason

for questioning whether we should have the death penalty at all.

In deciding not to retry Rodricus Crawford, the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s office is

righting this injustice, restoring integrity to their office.

The Promise of Justice Initiative hopes that this allows Rodricus Crawford an opportunity to

grieve, move on with his life and -- with help -- put this all behind him. We also believe it is a

good time to reconsider how we use the death penalty, so Louisiana can put behind it the time of

vengeance and injustice.