On March 12, Louisiana lawmakers held a hearing regarding the state's capital punishment system. Laverne Thompson, wife of death row exoneree John Thompson, gave a powerful testimony at the hearing.
John Thompson was scheduled to be executed in 2003 but was released after it was found out that prosecutors hid evidence at his trial. He became an advocate for death penalty abolition and criminal justice reform before his death in 2017.
Laverne told John Thompson's story, stating: “He lost 14 years of his life to death row... The pain of this system broke his heart. I have taken on his life work for Witness to Innocence because he died too early to finish it."
"John knew that the death penalty did not only destroy the lives of those wrongfully convicted, he knew that it broke a trust between Louisiana and her people. When the state risks executing the wrong person, especially when it says mistakes may happen if you are poor or black or alone, it tells every child that the state loves him less -- that his life does not matter."
"The status of Louisiana’s death penalty is that it does not respond to our culture of violence, that it makes mistakes, and we all bear that burden together... When we execute the wrong person, we all become murderers."
Click here to watch Laverne's testimony, which begins at 3:45:59.
The day after the hearing, Senator Dan Claitor publicly stated for the first time that he will be bringing forward a repeal bill this year.
Read more information about Laverne's efforts in Louisiana by clicking the links below:
Louisiana Lawmakers Hear Push for Restarting Executions - KATC - 3.13.19
Our Opinion: Death Penalty Needs Discussion, Not Partisanship - Houma Today - 3.15.19