Baton Rouge Community Radio airs lots of great locally-produced shows every week. We also carry many syndicated shows, from Democracy Now! to the Ralph Nader Radio Hour, State of Belief, Planetary Radio and many more. (You can see our entire weekly schedule and click on the name of any show to learn more about it and get on-demand podcasts of previous episodes here).
Every Wednesday, Law and Disorder airs on 96.9FM. The program is about the law and the legal profession, from a left political perspective. The show is excellent every week, but on December 11th it featured a Louisianian, Allison McCrary, the president of the Louisiana chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Ms. McCrary was also former Program Director for the Community-Police Mediation at the New Orleans Office of the Independent Police Monitor. She was a guest on Baton Rouge Community Radio in July 2016, when she spoke to a special edition of Louisiana All-American Sports covering the Alton Sterling protests on conditions in the Baton Rouge jail for the hundreds of people arrested while non-violently protesting the killing of Mr. Sterling by Baton Rouge police.
Baton Rouge Community Radio’s A Pause for Thought recently covered felon disenfranchisement in Louisiana. You can listen to the episode here:
The program features an interview with Norris Henderson, executive director of VOTE (Voice Of The Experienced), a non-profit by, of, and for formerly incarcerated individuals and their families. VOTE is the lead plaintiff in VOTE v. Louisiana, currently in the First Circuit Court of Appeals, charging that the state unconstitutionally disenfranchises citizens on parole or probation. At issue is Section 10(A) of the Louisiana 1974 Constitution’s Declaration of Rights, which grants the right to vote with the exception of persons ‘under an order of imprisonment for conviction of a felony.’
Speaking to show host Wayne Parker, Mr. Henderson explained “If you ask the regular citizen what their understanding of ‘under an order of imprisonment’ means, they would literally say that you’re talking about somebody that’s in jail. And so for the legislature, [the Constitution] was passed by an election of over 600,000 people in 1973 and within less than two years 144 [legislators] decide to change it. So that’s been our challenge.” He also spoke about the extension of disenfranchisement to those under probation, saying “The thing about the person on probation, the person on probation never really went to jail; they got arrested, went to court and got sent to probation and went home. And so that’s not talking about a person that’s under orders of incarceration.”
Norris Henderson was falsely imprisoned in Louisiana for a crime he did not commit for 27 years, 10 months, and 18 days. He has since been cleared of the crime he was unjustly jailed for almost three decades.
VOTE and The Advancement Project are leading the litigation in Louisiana state court, which includes VOTE and eight individual plaintiffs. Their suit claims the voters approving the 1974 Louisiana Constitution did not intend disenfranchisement to extend to parolees and those on probation, rather the legislature changed the language of the law unconstitutionally two years later.