General Information

Death Penalty: Yes
Date of Reinstatement (following Furman v. Georgia): July 2, 1973
Location of Death Row/Executions: Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola Women: Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women, St. Gabriel

Capital: Baton Rouge
Population: 4,533,372
Governor: John Bel Edwards
Legislative Information: Senate
House of representatives


Death Sentences 1977-2017
Death Row Exonerations

DPIC's State Database for information on executions, death row population and other statistics in Louisiana
History of the Death Penalty

Louisiana Bayou. Photo by Bev Heald, via photobucket.

History of the Death Penalty

Famous Cases

Connick v. Thompson, 563 U.S. 51 (2011)

John Thompson was convicted of robbery and murder, and spent 18 years in prison, 14 of which were spent on death row, before being exonerated. Shortly before Thompson's scheduled execution, an investigator discovered that prosecutors had hidden blood evidence that exonerated Thompson.

Mr. Thompson sued the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office, the District Attorney, Harry Connick, in his official and individual capacities, and several assistant district attorneys in their official capacities under 42 U.S.C § 1983 in a Louisiana federal district court. The jury awarded Mr. Thompson $14 million against Mr. Connick in his official capacity.

In a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court held that a prosecutor's office could not be held liable for the illegal conduct of one of its prosecutors when there has been only one violation resulting from that deficient training. In dissent Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan argued that the evidence "established persistent, deliberately indifferent conduct for which the District Attorney's Office bears responsibility under §1983."

Kennedy v. Louisiana, 554 US 407 (2008)

Kennedy v. Louisiana barred the death penalty from being used in non-homicide offenses. In a 5-4 decision the Court held that the Eighth Amendment bars states from imposing the death penalty for the rape of a child where the crime did not result in the child's death. The majority opinion found that applying the death penalty in such a case would be an exercise of "cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of a national consensus on the issue.

Roberts v. Louisiana, 428 U.S. 325 (1976)

Stanislaus Roberts v. Louisiana was one of the five death penalty cases the Supreme Court decided on July 2, 1976 when it ruled in Gregg v. Georgia that the death penalty did not invariably constitute cruel and unusual punishment. However, in a 5-4 vote, the Court declared that Louisiana's capital punishment statute, which made the death penalty mandatory for certain murders was unconstitutional because it did not allow for consideration of mitigating factors or the exercise of mercy to spare a defendant's life. The Supreme Court took up another Louisiana case in 1977 to determine whether a mandatory death sentence could be imposed in the limited circumstance of the murder of a law enforcement officer during the performance of his or her official duties. In a 5-4 decision in Harry Roberts v. Louisiana, 431 U.S. 633 (1977), the Court held that the prohibition against mandatory death sentences encompassed murders of police officers.

Notable Exonerations

Curtis Kyles was convicted and sentenced to death in 1984 after his first trial ended in a hung jury. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed his conviction in the case Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419 (1995). The Court cited prosecutorial misconduct: the state had withheld crucial information about a paid informant who may have been the actual murderer. He was retried three times, but each jury deadlocked. After Kyles' fifth trial, prosecutors dropped the charges against him. He was released from prison in 1998.

Other Interesting Facts

Intellectual disability (formerly known as mental retardation) is determined by the jury in the penalty phase of a capital trial following conviction for first-degree murder: http://www.legis.state.la.us/lss/lss.asp?doc=191015

Sister Helen Prejean began her work against the death penalty in Louisiana when she visited Patrick Sonnier on Death Row at Angola and accompanied him to his execution. Her account is documented in the book and movie Dead Man Walking.


Louisiana Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

I Want to Serve - Opposes the exclusion of individuals who express moral or religious opposition to the death penalty from capital juries

Capital Post Conviction Project of Louisiana – Provides indigent capital defendants with representation in state post-conviction and federal habeas corpus

Capital Appeals Project – Provides indigent capital defendants with representation on direct appeal

Louisiana Capital Assistance Center – A resource center for indigent capital defense at the trial level

Department of Corrections


Victims' services

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Many thanks to the Louisiana Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty for contributing to this page.