Following Saturday’s run-off election in Louisiana, Jasmine Heiss, Amnesty International USA’s Senior Campaigner for Individuals at Risk, released the following statement:
“With the election of new leadership in Louisiana, it’s time for the state to open a new chapter in criminal justice reform. Not only does Louisiana have the highest per capita incarceration rate in the country and employ solitary confinement with disturbing frequency, it is also home to one of the most egregious cases in the United States. Louisiana prisoner Albert Woodfox has spent over four decades in solitary, the longest of any currently serving prisoner in the United States.
“The results of Saturday's election provide an opportunity to chart a bold new direction for Louisiana. Governor-elect John Bel Edwards and Attorney General-elect Jeff Landry should commit to directly and urgently addressing the state’s mass incarceration crisis with concrete criminal justice reforms.
“The case of Albert Woodfox highlights many of the shortcomings of Louisiana’s criminal justice system. A federal judge ordered Woodfox’s unconditional release in June, but current Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has waged a campaign of vengeance to keep him in prison. Now Woodfox, whose conviction has been overturned three times, faces a third trial.
“There’s no reason to drag Woodfox back into court. It’s a wasteful and senseless effort motivated by vengeance. Attorney General-elect Landry should break with his predecessor and set Woodfox free.”