Stop Louisiana From Taking Innocent Lives #justice4jarret

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Jarret McCasland’s criminal activity in this case involved neither violence nor intent to cause harm. His actions did not raise any assumption that he is incapable of continuing to function in society. It was the decision of the decedent to celebrate her birthday by consuming copious amounts of alcohol, smoking real and synthetic marijuana, taking at least one or two Xanax bars, ingesting oxycodone and codeine, it was also her sole decision to bring cocaine to the party that night.  After leaving the party, the decedent– not Jarret McCasland – contacted her drug dealer to arrange for the purchase of heroin. The decedent herself – not Jarret McCasland – purchased the heroin on a promise that she would pay the dealer back within the next few days.  The decedent had the Mr. McCasland carry her heroin into her mother’s home, and once they were inside the home, she took them back. At some point that night the decedent injected herself with a fatal dose of the narcotics. The decedent was found unconscious at 9:30 a.m. the following morning and her death was pronounced at 11:33 a.m., approximately 9.5 hours after Jarret McCasland last had contact with her. Such is the full extent of Mr. McCasland’s criminal actions that resulted in a conviction of second-degree murder under La. R.S. 14:30.1(3), yielding a sentence of life imprisonment with no probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

What’s even more shocking than the facts of the case is the background that led to this point. It was well established at trial that it was the decedent who introduced Jarret McCasland to heroin use. She had overdosed in the past and knew the dangers of an opiate addiction but that did not stop her from getting Mr. McCasland addicted to this lifestyle. This makes the story even harder to bare because had she not been addicted to opiates, the decedent may still be alive and Mr. McCasland would not be in jail for the remainder of his life.

This law presents a clear case of cruel and unusual punishment. The law is overly broad because it is the only murder statute that does not require intent to kill or an act of violence. A mother could be sentenced to life in jail if, while treating her child’s cold with her own codeine cough syrup, the child has an inadvertent allergic reaction and dies. There is no greater societal purpose that is served when a fiancé is imprisoned for a tragic accident while celebrating her birthday.

Many states have seen the truth in this and have chosen not to create such an absurd law however 19 other states and Washington D.C. have chosen to codify similar laws. However, this does not exonerate Louisiana and make the actions of the Legislature any less cruel and unusual. Of those 20 other jurisdictions, not a single one requires a mandatory life sentence without probation, parole or suspension of sentence. This means that regardless of the facts of the case, no discretion can be made; the guilty party must go to jail for life even in an accident. Mr. McCasland has become a victim of Louisiana’s failure to evolve with the changing standards of decency. He is being punished for the rest of his life for being addicted to opiates, such is a slap in the face to all who seek help from this painful disease.

We ask that you stand up for Jarret and for others who will fall victim to the injustice of this law and legal system. Thank you and God Bless.  

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