Former inmate raises awareness for those affected by Louisiana’s Non-Unanimous Convictions 

Devin Cruice, Maroon Minute Executive Producer

Landon Marshall was serving a life sentence until 2020, when the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled non-unanimous juries are unconstitutional. He spent 28 years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary

The court recently ruled that the ban is not retroactive, meaning people like Marshall will never get a retrial and a chance at freedom.

“It’s a horrible feeling because you have guys, you know, I know are guilty,” Marshall said. “Then, you have a lot of guys that, in fact…that are innocent on a non-unanimous decision, and they have to serve their entire life at Angola,” he said.

New Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams is reviewing cases like Marshall’s, but prosecutors are not required to in the state of Louisiana. Loyola University New Orleans Criminology Professor Chistian Bolden says the juries have a deep history.

“Currently the only relief people have are places like here, Orleans. We have a reform prosecutor, Jason Williams, who has a civil rights division,” Bolden said. “You have this racial history to the non-unanimous juries, where the reason it was created was to negate the votes of Black jurors.”

Marshall is just one of few in the state who have seen justice. The Promise of Justice Initiative says that around 1,500 people are still serving sentences that were non-unanimous. Eighty percent of those people are Black, and most of them are serving life without parole.

“You know, we all, as kids, growed up as kids in Angola, you know, and a lot of guys, they have changed their life,” Marshall said. “You know, Innocent or guilty, they have changed, and they, you know, deserve a second chance,” he said.

Marshall was surprised to hear that his son would be joining him at Angola after another court had a non-unanimous ruling.

“It was a horrible feeling, but I kept my faith in God. And I knew just one day we were going to be free, one day,” he said.

Despite all this, both he and his son got out of Angola through the ruling and adjusted as best they could to modern life.

“At first, I was lost at first, you know,” Marshall said. “Then it just, it just opened up, and I was like, ‘I remember now. I remember now.’”