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Federal Court Upholds Louisiana Felony Re-Enfranchisement Policy, But Allows Lawsuit To Continue 

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Federal Court Upholds Louisiana Felony Re-Enfranchisement Policy, But Allows Lawsuit To Continue 


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Louisiana voters whose registrations were suspended due to a felony conviction must continue to provide extra documentary proof of eligibility to vote while a lawsuit challenging the policy continues, a court ruled.

On Monday, a federal judge determined that civil rights groups’ challenge of Louisiana’s policy for re-enfranchising “suspended citizens” has deficiencies. In light of these technical problems with the lawsuit, the court is allowing the plaintiffs to amend their complaint, and if they fix these issues, the lawsuit will be allowed to proceed. 

In Louisiana, the right to vote is restored to someone who was incarcerated for a felony conviction after they have completed their sentence or once five years have passed since their incarceration. If the voter was not previously registered, they can register to vote like any other voter. However, if the individual was registered to vote prior to their conviction, they must present documentary proof of eligibility.

Last May, several voting rights groups filed a lawsuit challenging Louisiana’s voter registration policy for those with prior felony convictions. The lawsuit specifically challenges the state’s voter registration policy regarding “suspended” voters: citizens who were previously registered to vote and whose registration was suspended due to a felony conviction. “Louisiana has attempted to create a bifurcated process for accepting voter registration forms for people with convictions,” the complaint explains.

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The plaintiffs argued that the state’s policy violated the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) because the documentary proof of eligibility requirement for previously registered voters with prior felony convictions “exceeds the information necessary for election officials to assess an applicant’s eligibility, particularly given the guaranteed statutory access election officials have to the requisite information.” The court dismissed the plaintiffs’ NVRA claims, but allowed the plaintiffs’ other claims to proceed. 

The plaintiffs also argue that the re-enfranchisement policy violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment because “suspended” voters with prior felony convictions attempting to register to vote are treated differently than new registrants with past convictions. This claim will move forward.

The plaintiffs also point out how this requirement is rooted in racist history writing: “the paperwork requirement for suspended voters is a part of a long history of erecting additional barriers for individuals with felony convictions to gain access to the franchise in Louisiana, a practice with Jim Crow-era origins.” 

The court wrote that although the scheme subjects “thousands to a cat-and-mouse document chase” and “is a severe burden on one’s right to vote,” it will not be temporarily blocked due to problems with the plaintiffs’ claims. However, the lawsuit will proceed and the case is set to go to trial in January 2025. 

This is not the first lawsuit to specifically target the intricacies of a state’s voter registration process for disparately impacting individuals with prior felony convictions. The League of Women Voters of Florida and the Florida State Conference of the NAACP filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s voter registration application, but it was subsequently dismissed. 

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Read the opinion here.

Learn more about the case here.



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Louisiana

Manhunt in Louisiana for 4 escapees, including 3 homicide suspects

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Manhunt in Louisiana for 4 escapees, including 3 homicide suspects


How common are prison escapes?

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How common are prison escapes?

03:29

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Authorities in Louisiana are searching for four inmates who escaped from the Tangipahoa Parish Jail, just north of New Orleans — and three of the four are homicide suspects, the parish sheriff’s office says.

Sheriff Daniel Edwards said in a statement that they got out through the jail’s perimeter fence during recreation time on the yard.

Later inspection showed that “a section of the fence was … vulnerable and easily maneuvered in such a way that a small statured body could slide through.”

The three homicide suspects were identified as Omarion Hookfin, 19, of Hammond, La.; Avery Guidry, also 19, of Natalbany, La.; and Travon Johnson, 21, also from Natalbany.

The fourth escapee was Jamarcus Cyprian, 20, of Amity, La., the office said.

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Hookfin, Guidry and Johnson were behind bars for their alleged roles in a 2022 homicide in Hammond, and Cyprian was doing time on armed robbery and weapons charges, the office said, with more time tacked on for alleged aggravated battery while he was locked up in Catahoula Parish.

CBS New Orlans affiliate WWL-TV reports that the counts against Johnson, Hookfin and Guidry stemmed from a 2022 home invasion in Hammond that ended with a 33-year-old man dead and his 12-year-old daughter hospitalized.



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Southeast Louisiana’s first heat advisory of 2024 issued for Memorial Day

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Southeast Louisiana’s first heat advisory of 2024 issued for Memorial Day


Southeast Louisiana’s first heat advisory of 2024 will go into effect on Memorial Day, when National Weather Service forecasters expect to see the kinds of high temperatures and humidity that often lead to heat-related illnesses. 

The advisory will be effectual from noon to 8 p.m. on Monday and includes most of southeast Louisiana and parts of southern Mississippi. Forecasters expect to see daytime highs in the low to mid 90s in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette, with heat index values, or “feels like” temperatures, nearing 108 degrees. 






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Forecasters said residents should take extra precautions while outside in these conditions. Wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing, drink plenty of water, try to limit strenuous activities to early morning or evening and watch out for the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

There’s also a chance that severe thunderstorms could hit portions of southeast Louisiana Monday evening, particularly in areas north of Interstate 10. The storms could bring gusty winds of up to 60 mph and large hail, according to the National Weather Service. 



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Louisiana signs law classifying abortion pills as controlled substances

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Louisiana signs law classifying abortion pills as controlled substances


(Baton Rouge, LA)  —  The governor of Louisiana is signing a bill that classifies abortion pills as controlled dangerous substances.  

On Friday, Republican Governor Jeff Landry announced he’d signed new legislation that makes it illegal to possess abortion medications without a valid prescription. Anyone found with those medications without orders from a doctor could face up to five years in prison.  

President Biden called the bill “outrageous” and said it was “a direct result of Trump overturning Roe v. Wade.”  



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