The Louisiana House today voted against House Bill 65, which would have made people with past convictions eligible for jury duty. The following statement is by Jamila Johnson, senior supervising attorney for the SPLC Action Fund, a member of Louisianans for Prison Alternatives:
“Louisiana lawmakers last year restored voting rights to many formerly incarcerated people who work, pay taxes and raise families in Louisiana’s communities. Just as the valuable knowledge of system-impacted people is needed at the polls, their unique perspectives are vital in our courtrooms. In the state with the world’s highest imprisonment rate, excluding the voices of formerly incarcerated people from our juries creates a less fair justice system that is lacking diverse representation.
“Participating in basic civic functions – like voting or sitting on a jury – is essential to ensuring successful re-entry, building stronger communities, and forging the kind of justice system Louisianans deserve.”