August 18, 2020
New Orleans, La – Family members and advocates of Derek Harris rejoiced last week following his release after almost a decade in prison. Originally given a life sentence for the sale of less than a gram of marijuana, Derek’s sentence was reduced to nine years on August 6th. Advocacy from Derek’s legal team at the Promise of Justice Initiative (“PJI”) and loved ones finally resulted in Derek Harris being freed from Louisiana State Penitentiary.
Family and community members are overjoyed to have Derek home with them and ask for donations to their GoFundMe: Bringing Derek Harris Home. Though he worked in the hospital at Angola for many years, Derek will leave prison without a job and in need of basic help for medications and other necessities to get him started in his new life. His attorney, Cormac Boyle, says, “Supporting Derek did not end with overturning his egregious life sentence and it did not end the day he walked out of Angola. Righting the harms done to a person through incarceration includes supporting their health, housing, and adjustment to their long-deserved freedom we need all the help we can get.”
PJI continues to litigate other cases of over-detention. “This delayed justice was a terrifying ordeal for Derek and his family. As COVID-19 rates continue to rise in DOC facilities, every day spent in Angola was a tremendous risk for Derek’s health and safety. Through our lawsuit filed in partnership with the Law Office of William Most and the Chicago based civil rights firm, Loevy and Loevy to challenge the unconstitutional over detention of our community members throughout the state, Promise of Justice Initiative will continue to fight for the release of all those who should be home safe with their families.” Promised PJI Executive Director, Mercedes Montagnes.