Victims Rights are being violated in Louisiana!
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“Louisiana had the nation's highest murder rate for the 29th straight year in 2017 (every year since 1989) and New Orleans had the nation's 4th highest murder rate (cities 250K+) marking the 30th straight year in the top 5 (not including 2005).” JeffAsher@Crimealytics
Article 1, Section 25 of the Louisiana State Constitution states in no uncertain terms that “any person who is a victim of crime shall be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect.” It continues to read “a victim of crime shall have the right to reasonable notice and to be present and heard during all critical stages of preconviction and postconviction proceedings,” and “…the right to be informed upon the release from custody or the escape of the accused or the offender….” The word “shall” creates a mandate on which my family relied. We counted on everyone who is required to, to follow this mandate; to treat us with fairness, dignity, and respect; to give us reasonable notice of the postconviction proceedings; to inform us of my brother’s killer’s release.
On April 23, 1994, New Orleans Police Officer Weldon Williams and his brother George Gilliam brutally murdered my brother, Mitchell Ceasar . Officer Williams and Gilliam lead Mitch into a field at gun point and shot him multiple times, killing him. Mitch was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person. I personally sat through not one, not two but three trials listening to details of Mitch’s last moments. I learned that his last sound was a scream before he was gunned down. I saw pictures of Mitch lying in that grassy field, lifeless and riddled with bullets.
February 5, 2013 marked the beginning of a series of events which resulted in my brother’s murderer’s release from prison after being sentenced to life without probation, parole or suspension of sentenced. On April 26, 2019, George Gilliam walked out of prison a free man, something Mitch will never be able to do. I learned of Gilliam’s release by conducting a Google search.
After sitting through hearings, trials, and sentencing, and hearing a sentence of life without probation, parole or suspension of sentence, we left court confident that these men would never see the outside world again. However, today, Gilliam walks free and no one bothered to notify my family. The system has failed us.
My family was not notified about the rights of victims to participate in postconviction proceedings or to be informed of the defendant’s release. My family was deprived of the opportunity to have our voices heard. I personally was involved in every stage of the investigation, prosecution and sentencing of my brother’s murderer, except the stage that involved his release. We, as a family, feel violated. I was told by a representative of Victims Advocacy in New Orleans that ours is not the only family this has happened to however no one faces consequences and the victims are left helpless and vulnerable. How do you tell a citizen when the law breaks the law there is no consequence?
After numerous calls and emails I received no response until Careese Jackman with WWL told my story. My family has yet to be told who is responsible.
My wish is that no other family suffers the loss of a loved one, however according to statistics it’s very likely that you or a loved one will be a victim of crime in Louisiana. I would hate that on top of being a victim the assailant is freed without your knowledge then making you a victim of the carelessness of our state.
Please join my family in our effort hold to the DA’s office, Louisiana board of Pardons and parole and the Louisiana Office for Victims of Crime accountable to the Victims of Crime.
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