Unanimous jury verdicts discussed at forum

A public forum on unanimous jury verdicts, the death penalty and mandatory sentencing was held Monday at Central Library.

Hannah Cox, national manager of the group Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, was guest speaker.

One of the topics discussed was Louisiana’s law that permits split juries to convict people of serious crimes.

A proposal to end the Jim Crow-era law is on the Nov. 6 ballot.

If passed by voters, a unanimous, 12-person jury decision would be required to convict anyone for a felony offense committed on or after Jan. 1, 2019.

Currently, serious felony trials in Louisiana, including some murder cases, can be resolved when 10 out of 12 jurors agree on a person’s guilt.

Louisiana and Oregon are the only two states that permit non-unanimous verdicts in felony cases, but Oregon requires a unanimous verdict in murder trials.

Louisiana is the only state in which someone can be sentenced to life without parole without a unanimous decision of a jury.

At the forum, Cox discussed reasons for ending Louisiana’s death penalty and mandatory sentencing status from a conservative perspective.

“Perpetrators don’t think of consequences when they act,” Cox said. “The death penalty is not a deterrent for them. Life in prison is more of a deterrent than the death penalty.”

Cox said since 1973, more than 140 people have been freed from death row after evidence revealed they had been wrongfully convicted.

“Wrongful convictions can rob innocent people of decades of their lives, waste tax dollars and re-traumatize the victim’s family,” she said.

To learn more about the group, visit www.conservativesconcerned.org.

For more information about the topic of unanimous juries, visit: https://www.unanimousjury.org.””unanimous jury