My name is John Calhoun, and I am working with Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs and the Orleans Public Defenders Office to hold our 2nd annual Second Line For Equal Justice to raise awareness about the crisis our public defenders office is facing and to encourage our city and state governments to adequately fund indigent defense.
The money will be used to pay for the parade permit, police escort, hiring 2 brass bands, and other costs of planning and holding this event. We need to raise the funds by November 4, the day of the Second Line.
The 6th Amendment to our constitution guarantees every person the right to council. Over 80 % of people who are arrested in New Orleans cannot afford a lawyer, and the system responsible for providing legal representation is tragically underfunded. The results are heartbreaking: wrongful convictions, people sitting in jail without a lawyer, and people pleading guilty to crimes they didn't commit simply to get out of jail. We believe that everyone deserves equal justice regardless of income. Justice is being denied everyday in New Orleans and across Louisiana.
We want to hold an event that brings together thousands of people for one cause. We want to use our city's cultural traditions to create change and ensure justice for everyone. We believe this event will send a powerful message to our city and state governments to adequately fund public defense and encourage legislative reform. We shouldn't need to endlessly beg for something as important as a basic constitutional right. Too much is at stake. We envision a city where justice is truly served. We envision as city where justice for poor people is the same as justice for everyone else.
We are witnessing a tragic failure of our justice system. Reaching our fundraising goals will allow us to produce this powerful event and realize our power as a community to stand together and demand equal justice.
Our 2016 Second Line went a long way in the City Council's decision to maintain the Orleans Public Defenders' local appropriation, while many other criminal justice entities faced budget cuts. This year we plan to take aim at the larger issue of criminal justice reform and equal justice. With the mayoral election and several city council seats up for consideration, it’s time to make our voice heard regarding mass incarceration, fines and fees, bail reform, and more. Help us make this year's second line even bigger and more impactful.