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Conditions on Louisiana's Death Row Violate the U.S. Constitution’s Ban on Cruel and Unusual Punishment

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has confirmed that the conditions on Louisiana's death row violate the U.S. Constitution’s ban on Cruel and Unusual Punishment.  

The court issued the opinion in Ball et al. v. LeBlanc et al. on July 8, 2015.  The opinion, authored by Circuit Judge Edith Jones, upholds the district court’s finding that the extreme heat on death row – where the heat index regularly exceeds 100 degrees for hours or days on end – violates the plaintiffs’ 8th Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment because the heat conditions subject the plaintiffs to a substantial risk of serious harm. 

Read more: Conditions on Louisiana's Death Row Violate the U.S. Constitution’s Ban on Cruel and Unusual...

PJI Submits Complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division

Update: PJI filed this Complaint on January 30, 2015.  As of June 24, 2015 – 145 days later – we have not received a response.

On January 30, 2015, the Promise of Justice Initiative submitted a Complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, regarding discriminatory actions of the Caddo Parish prosecutorial and judicial authorities in their treatment of Lamondre Tucker, a young African-American capital defendant in Shreveport, as well as the corollary treatment of prospective African-American jurors in Caddo Parish.  

The Complaint focuses on the display of the Confederate flag on courthouse grounds between Mr. Tucker’s indictment in 2008 until his capital sentencing in 2011.  Mr. Tucker was the last of 22 African-American men sentenced to death in Caddo Parish while the flag flew on the courthouse lawn.  This display, the Complaint urges, suffused the proceedings with an atmosphere of at least the legacy of white supremacy, if not the continued assertion of white supremacy – affecting both Mr. Tucker himself and the ability of African-American members of the community to serve as jurors in a capital trial.  Mr. Tucker’s counsel repeatedly objected to the flag’s influence, stating that it “can only serve to interpose racial considerations – to both intimidate African-American jurors and to prime white jurors to impose the death penalty – in this case. The Flag’s placement outside the Courthouse serves to remind African-American jurors of a regime in which lynchings and enslavement of African Americans was permitted under law.”  

Read the complaint here to learn more, including how jurors felt about the flag and what social science research can tell us about its influence.

Attachments:
Download this file (2015.01.30 Tucker DOJ Full Submitted Complaint.pdf)Tucker DOJ Complaint

LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST ANGOLA PRISON AND LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONS OVER UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND DEFICIENT MEDICAL CARE

NEW ORLEANS – Prisoners at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola (Angola) filed a

lawsuit today alleging that they needlessly suffer from chronic pain, permanent injury, and

preventable sickness and death as a result of prison officials’ failure to provide constitutionally

adequate medical care.

 

The Promise of Justice Initiative (PJI), the law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC

(Cohen Milstein), the Advocacy Center (AC), and the American Civil Liberties Union

Foundation of Louisiana (ACLU-La) filed a complaint against the Louisiana Department of

Public Safety and Corrections (DOC) and Angola’s wardens alleging violations of the Cruel and

Unusual Punishment clause of the Eighth Amendment and federal disability statutes. The

complaint, titled Lewis et al. v. Cain et al., was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle

District of Louisiana. In challenging the inadequate medical care, the complaint alleges that the

prison’s more than 6,000 prisoners are all at risk of serious harm, while scores of men have already experienced unnecessary injury, suffering and death.

Read more: LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST ANGOLA PRISON AND LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONS...

PJI's "Justice League" Team Runs the Crescent City Classic to Raise Money for Clients and Families

For the third year in a row, staff, friends, and family members at The Justice Center and The Promise of Justice Initiative ran to support The Client and Family Assistance Project connecting families with loved ones in prison. The twelve person team raised $4,616.00. Thank you to all of our runners and those who donated. Your support works directly to reduce the harmful effects of incarceration on the families and communities left behind by Louisiana's high incarceration rate.