New from LSU Press is Jim Crow’s Last Stand: Nonunanimous Criminal Jury Verdicts in Louisiana, by Thomas Aiello, an associate professor of history at Valdosta State University.
The nonunanimous jury-verdict law originally allowed a guilty verdict with only nine juror votes, out of twelve, funneling many of those convicted into the state’s burgeoning convict lease system. The law remained on the books well after convict leasing ended. Historian Thomas Aiello describes the origins of the statute in Bourbon Louisiana—a period when white Democrats sought to redeem their state after Reconstruction—its survival through the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s, and the Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. Louisiana (1972), which narrowly validated the state’s criminal conviction policy. Spanning over a hundred years of Louisiana law and history, Jim Crow’s Last Stand investigates the ways in which legal policies and patterns of incarceration contribute to a new form of racial inequality.