Below is the letter we will send to Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
Action needed: People are still imprisoned in Oregon by a KKK-era law
Right now, hundreds of people in Oregon who were convicted by non-unanimous juries remain incarcerated despite a recent Supreme Court ruling that non-unanimous juries are unconstitutional.
Passed in 1934 following the rise of the Klu Klux Klan in the state, non-unanimous juries have meant that for almost 90 years, an Oregonian could be convicted and imprisoned even if two jurors returned a “not guilty” verdict. As per usual, Black and Brown people continue to bear the brunt of the consequences of this law. Black people are only 2.2 percent of Oregon’s state population, yet are estimated to comprise 16 percent of those convicted by non-unanimous juries.
There is, however, a powerful person who can act to ensure that every human currently incarcerated based upon a non-unanimous jury conviction has the opportunity to be released and retried: Oregon’s Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. But we need to move her to action.
Join Color Of Change and the ACLU of Oregon in demanding that Attorney General Rosenblum stop preventing people from getting fair trials untainted by the racist stain of non-unanimous juries.
Last year, the Supreme Court acknowledged the racist origins of non-unanimous juries, and ruled the practice - only ever allowed in Oregon and Louisiana - unconstitutional. Even Attorney General Rosenblum has acknowledged the practice is linked to racism. Yet, despite the decision, hundreds of people convicted by non-unanimous juries remain in prison. Thousands more, also tried by non-unanimous juries and who have since completed their sentences, continue to bear the stigma of a conviction record - creating barriers to meaningful employment, stable housing, and even reunification with family.
Why? Because the Supreme Court decision only applied to people who had open appeals at the time of the ruling. The decision didn’t apply to people who had already gone through the appeals process, despite them having been convicted in the same unconstitutional way. This is an arbitrary matter of timing, not justice.
To not permit each Oregonian impacted by non-unanimous juries access to justice because of an arbitrary deadline sends the message that some lives, Black lives in particular, are unworthy of fair trials. The state has prioritized convenience over freedom.
Sign our petition and encourage Attorney General Rosenblum to stand on the right side of justice.
Here is the Petition:
Dear Attorney General Rosenblum,
Last year, the Supreme Court acknowledged the racist origins of non-unanimous juries, and ruled the practice - only ever allowed in Oregon and Louisiana - unconstitutional. And yet, hundreds of people convicted by non-unanimous juries remain in prison, and thousands who have completed their sentences continue to bear the stigma of a conviction record, thus creating barriers to meaningful employment, stable housing, and even reunification with family.
Why should Oregonians be condemned to imprisonment by a system that the Attorney General and the U.S. Supreme Court have recognized as racist?
We urge you to use your power of discretion to stop preventing new trials for those who were unconstitutionally convicted by non-unanimous juries. Stand up for Oregon’s progressive values, and stand on the right side of justice.