They’ve Determined It’s Better We Die:

Louisiana United International, Inc. proclaims what's a crime is proposing public safety warrants exposing Louisiana’s vast population of incarcerated African Americans to death by COVID-19 infection.


by: Zena Crenshaw-Logal, J.D.


Unreliable is a word that should stick in our heads. Government reports on what is happening in Louisiana detention centers, jails, and prisons are inconsistent with what people confined in those facilities are telling their family members. So at this point, the government reports are unreliable, and we have reason to believe that everyone incarcerated in the State of Louisiana is at risk of dying from COVID-19 infections, and that means thousands of Black people may get sick or die in captivity.


This is what social distancing looks like in Louisiana jail cells.

The U.S. Constitution and international human rights treaties that are part of America’s federal law have a lot of fancy ways of making this point and that is: The punishment should fit the crime. Louisiana officials talking public safety outside that parameter – outside of keeping crime and punishment in proportion . . . when they go beyond those dynamics, they’re flirting with genocide. This is not an episode of Gray’s Anatomy. Governors and Wardens are not empowered to choose one life versus another. In the context of an epidemic or pandemic, their comparison should be limited to crimes and punishments that may include exposure to a deadly virus. When that price is too high to pay given the circumstances of a person’s incarceration, he or she should be released under appropriate terms.

What we have now are people confined because the tough on crime folks don’t want them released. And not a single branch of U.S. government is going to upset their apple cart without some serious pressure from another powerful voting bloc. So here is what Louisiana United International, Inc. (LUI) proposes we do:


  1. LUI is part of Opt IN USA which is a campaign I help manage, and that’s gotten phenomenal support from the United Nations. Our basic complaint is that America’s legal system is regularly weaponized against Black people and anybody else it wants to take down. The UN Human Rights Committee encouraged the Trump Administration to meet with an Opt IN USA delegation and other civil society groups before average Americans even knew of a COVID-19 pandemic. We need to immediately pressure the Trump Administration to have that meeting with LUI as part of an Opt IN USA delegation. So, promptly sign a petition demanding that meeting;

  2. Genocide is a crime against humanity that any of us as individuals or as part of an organization can have prosecuted before the International Criminal Court EXCEPT the U.S. is not a member of that court. The ICC doesn’t have jurisdiction over crimes against humanity committed by private American citizens or U.S. officials. So, promptly sign a petition demanding that Congress add the United States to the International Criminal Court;

  3. Promptly sign a petition demanding that Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards meet immediately with Belinda Parker-Brown, LUI’s CEO, and whomever she designates to finalize arrangements for working directly with LUI in accomplishing a substantial, controlled evacuation of the state’s detention centers, jails, and prisons as LUI proposed to him in its March 31, 2020 letter about the matter;

  4. LUI has issued a Position Statement that details the legal basis for all of the action it proposes we take. Any and all of you who advocate with and through a non-governmental organization willing to be a signatory to the LUI position statement, please promptly email the organization indicating as much c/o info@launitedi.org

  5. Please promptly go to the Join/Donate page of the LUI website and promptly join the organization. Also, if at all possible, make a financial donation over and beyond paying LUI’s modest membership fee of $25 per individual and $50 per family.

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National Judicial Conduct and Disability Law Project, Inc.  All rights reserved.