Governor John Bel Edwards:
We, the undersigned, urge you to exercise your constitutional power to grant freedom to Jerome Smith. It is so hard to think about an innocent man spending his best years in prison due to a corrupted prosecutor, racial prejudices, and failure of the judicial system. We believe that the State of Louisiana is a place where everyone deserves justice.
Jerome “Skee” Smith was only 15 when he was arrested for a murder he didn’t commit and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. It happened in 1985 in New Orleans, Louisiana and since then Smith has already spent 31 years in prison struggling to prove his innocence.
It was October 29, 1985, when an unidentified killer fatally shot Bill Long, a father of six, and owner of Bill Long’s Bakery during an alleged robbery. Despite the fact that Smith had an alibi that he had arrived at the Youth Study Center with his mother ten minutes after the incident took place he was accused of this murder and sent to prison.
The real circumstances of the trial were revealed later in 2001 when evidence hidden by a prosecutor in 1986 came to light. It turned out that three witnesses who testified against Smith in court gave different tape-recorded descriptions of the murderer right after the shooting. Moreover, according to police documents the shooting occurred at 4:10, not at 4:00 as it was claimed during the first trial. The staff workers of the Youth Study Center confirmed that Smith and his mother attended a scheduled appointment that day at 4:15.
However, despite the new evidence which obviously proves Smith’s innocence, all of his appeals were dismissed and he is still in prison. One more court hearing is scheduled for October 14, 2016, but after 31 years of unsuccessful struggle Jerome Smith has little hope for justice to be served. The support meeting for Jerome Smith will take place on the same day outside the Orleans Criminal District Court.
Smith was sentenced in the times when black people were prejudiced and racial tensions were still prevalent. He was a teen with plans and hopes but the broken system forced him to spend all of his youth years in a jail cell.
Unfortunately, Smith’s case hasn’t attracted media attention and during 31 years of unjust imprisonment Smith has met only one journalist. Neither has he gotten any support from social justice organizations.
Now it is time to make the story public. Jerome “Skee” Smith should be set free and settled for every year he has lost in jail. Please, sign and share this petition if you believe that an innocent man should finally reunite with his family and spend the rest of his life as a free man and not behind bars.