December 01, 2008

Jurisdiction in Need: Louisiana

Described in 2004 by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association as "beyond the point of crisis,” studies suggest that Louisiana's defense system has been crippled by years of inadequate funding, insufficient training, and excessive case loads. Despite statewide changes to the indigent defense systems, serious challenges remain for the 88 men and women currently on the state's Death Row.

By 2005, the disruption to indigent defense experienced in the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina provided a genuine impetus to change the system. Counsel may struggle to locate key witnesses since the post-Katrina exodus from New Orleans, and post-conviction counsel may find that evidence has been damaged. Inadequate funding still threatens Louisiana's criminal justice system as well.

In 2006 the Louisiana Senate unanimously passed Concurrent Resolution 25 calling for US Congress "to take such actions as are necessary to provide funding for Louisiana's indigent defense system."

The Project is currently seeking to place thirteen post-conviction capital cases in Louisiana. Please contact us for more information about any of these cases.