For dozens of Louisiana’s oldest and longest-serving inmates, the choice could not have been more stark: Risk getting sent to the electric chair for rape or murder, or sign a plea agreement that carried a life sentence.
In 10 years and six months, they were told, they would be eligible for parole. It was the law — until it wasn’t.
In the 1970s, the state raised the parole eligibility requirement to 20 years, and then to 40 years. And by 1979, the chance of parole was gone altogether….
The plight of the inmates, most of whom are Black and are known as “10-6 lifers,” drew the attention of Jason Williams, the first-year district attorney for New Orleans….
In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Williams said reneging on the parole terms was “just one example in a very long line of a betrayal of promises to Black folks in this country.”