faith leaders: sign our letter of support
We’re collecting signatures in support of Amendment 2 from faith leaders of all traditions throughout the state of Louisiana. If you’re a faith leader, please read and sign the letter below. You can add your signature by filling out the form next to the letter. Click here to see the most current version of the letter with signers.
People of faith are morally obligated to challenge injustice even when it is sanctioned by law. As St. Augustine wrote, and Martin Luther King, Jr. affirmed centuries later, “an unjust law is no law at all.” Louisiana’s non-unanimous jury statute requiring only ten of twelve votes for a felony conviction is one such law.
For a law to be just, it must promote the common good. It is impossible to claim that allowing men and women to be convicted by ten of twelve jurors meets this standard. Every citizen knows that a prosecutor must prove a defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” What better evidence of such doubt is there than the objections of one or two jurors? Dismissing voices of dissent during jury deliberations robs the citizens of Louisiana of their right to due process. Too often we diminish the importance of this right, assuming defendants are guilty until proven innocent. Consequently, our state has the second highest rate of wrongful convictions, a significant portion of which were the result of non-unanimous jury verdicts. These miscarriages of justice inflict untold suffering on those imprisoned for crimes they did not commit, consume scarce resources, and threaten public safety. The state spends millions to incarcerate innocent people and fails to hold accountable those actually responsible for causing harm. How can a law contributing to such outcomes be for the common good?
We have before us the opportunity to correct what people from across the political spectrum agree is an egregious wrong. On November 6, voters can choose to amend the state constitution to require unanimous jury verdicts in all felony cases. It is both our civic and moral duty as people of faith to add our voices to the bipartisan, interracial, and interfaith coalition endeavoring to remove this past and present stain from Louisiana’s future. All we have to do is vote YES on Amendment 2 on November 6.
Yours in Justice,
Organization / Congregation