Louisiana pardons board denies clemency hearing for first five appeals; Sister Helen sues the board


The Louisiana Board of Pardons rejected clemency hearings for the first five people sentenced to death who submitted applications earlier this month.

The five men and the only woman on the state’s death row were the first hearings to come before the board since Gov. John Bel Edwards, whose term is up at the end of this year, publicly expressed his opposition to the death penalty in May, nola.com reported. 

Fifty-six of the 57 people on death row have filed applications asking that their sentences be commuted to life in prison without parole. Still, the board put only 20 on the docket, at Edwards’ request. Edwards cannot act without the board’s recommendation for clemency.

Sister Helen Prejean, a Louisiana native, and the author of Dead Man Walking, a book about her first experience as a spiritual advisor to a man who was executed by Louisiana corrections officials, filed a lawsuit against the state’s parole board earlier this month. Sister Helen accused the board of holding “secret meetings” regarding the clemency applications in violation of the state’s open meetings law, the Deseret News reports.  

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Sister Helen explained that she filed the lawsuit “because the meeting was held in violation of the Open Meetings Law, [and] deprived me of a chance to voice my opinion on these life-or-death considerations.” In a second post, she asked the courts “to order openness and transparency in this life-or-death process and let the 56 people on death row have their chance to plead their cases for the clemency of life in prison.”

You might also be interested in...

Alabama executes Casey McWhorter by lethal injection; state SC gives the go-ahead to use nitrogen gas in future executions

Alabama executed Casey McWhorter earlier this month. He was convicted and sentenced to die in 1994 for the robbery and...
Read More

While we’re on the subject. . .

“Whether you support capital punishment or oppose it, one thing is clear. Oklahoma’s system is so fundamentally flawed that we...
Read More

In brief: November 2023

In South Carolina, executions are on hold until at least February, when the supreme court will hold a hearing over...
Read More