Between 1926 and 1973, Louisiana inmates who’d been sentenced to life had a chance at freedom after completing 10 years and six months with good behavior. However, when the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily discontinued the “10/6” practice, life sentences were met with a greater penalty.
According to state legislature, life sentences initially included a minimum of 20 years for those convicted of murder. Then, a revision was made tacking on an additional 20 years. In 1979, eligibility for parole was stripped away altogether.
Those who went to prison before 1973, believing they’d be released after 10 1/2 years, found themselves stuck behind bars and at the mercy of new laws. The majority of said inmates (who are still alive) are Black.
Thanks to Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams, many of the “10/6 lifers” have been able to regain their freedom. He petitioned the courts to re-sentence convicts based on their time served. However, that only applied to the 18 people who were convicted in the Orleans Parish jurisdiction.
Lawmakers are now attempting to get other states to participate in lifting the 10/6 ban. Sen. Regina Barrow (D) and Sen. Franklin Foil (R) introduced two bills that would provide parole eligibility to 10/6 lifers. Sen. Barrow’s bill would make inmates eligible if they committed the crime before July 2, 1973. Sen. Franklin’s terms are for those who pleaded guilty without going to trial.
Andrew Hundley, the executive director of the Louisiana Parole Project, supports Barrow’s efforts in creating change.
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