Corey Williams Walks Free
For Immediate Release:
The Promise of Justice Initiative
NEW ORLEANS (May 22, 2018) – Louisiana failed Corey when he was two years old with lead levels ten times what were safe, knowing he was being poisoned every day and doing nothing. Louisiana failed Corey when he was eleven, scared and alone; he went for mental health care, and was sent home. Louisiana failed Corey when he was sent to Tallulah as a young teenager, to be beaten by guards and unprotected from violence. And Louisiana failed Corey when he was arrested and charged with a first degree murder that he did not commit. When the police officers and prosecutors who were sworn to protect him decided that it was easier to pin a murder on him then ensure that justice prevail. And Louisiana seared those failures into our collective soul, when — in a toxic combination of hubris and indifference — overzealous prosecutors sent Corey to death row. He was the youngest person sentenced to death at the time of his conviction.
District Attorney Stewart did a remarkable (because it was unusual) and decent thing in recognizing that a person of Corey’s special vulnerabilities, having served 20 years at Louisiana State Penitentiary should be allowed to go home. It was an act of decency in a justice system that can often be inhumane and indifferent.
We believe that there were serious, valid, legal claims warranting a new trial. Claims that over 40 former prosecutors, along with the MacArthur Justice Center in Washington D.C., Innocence Project of New Orleans, Fair Punishment Project and many others, thought were worthy of the Supreme Court review. But if the cost of Corey coming home today was admitting to manslaughter based upon 16 year old Corey’s possession of a stolen weapon and obstruction of justice for falsely confessing, is weighed against years of court battles, then the cost is something we endure together. Today is a vindication of all of Corey’s claims of wrongful conviction; Blythe Taplin and Amir Ali walked Corey Williams out of prison today. Corey’s release will not fix what was done, but it will begin to restore our commitment to justice.
America broke its promise to Corey, and many other children like him. Even if this time-served plea prevents Corey from being described as the 12th person exonerated from death row in Louisiana, we at the Promise of Justice Initiative recognize that it is these broken promises that deprive Louisiana the moral authority to execute its citizens, and hope that in the next years, Louisiana will lead the movement towards redemption by repealing the death penalty, improving the justice system, and doing the hard work to ensure that no child ever endures what Corey did.
A fund-raising page for Corey is here: https://www.flipcause.com/secure/cause_pdetails/MzUwMjk more information about Corey’s case is here: http://justicespromise.org/major-projects/the-corey-williams-case