Audio Review

The Division: New Orleans – part two – podcast

In 1995, Kuantay Reeder is sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison for a crime he says he didn’t commit. He spends years doing hard labour in the fields of the prison, and trying to have his conviction overturned. By 2020, he has exhausted almost every legal avenue available to him. But 2020 is also the year that Jason Williams is elected to be the new district attorney of New Orleans. Will the creation of a new civil rights division in his office offer hope to Reeder?

In 1995, Kuantay Reeder is convicted of a murder he says he did not commit. He is sent to Angola prison in Louisiana, the site of a former plantation, where he is forced to spend years working in the fields, work Kuantay calls “modern-day slavery”. Prof Andrea Armstrong has been going to Angola for years, documenting its history and talking to prisoners about their lives there. She talks about prison labour programmes and the indignities faced by inmates.

After fighting for years to have his conviction overturned, Reeder’s case has little legal hope left. But in 2020 New Orleans elects a new district attorney, Jason Williams, who promises to reckon with the city’s history of unfair prosecutions. Williams talks to the Guardian’s US southern bureau chief, Oliver Laughland, about his election victory and his reform pledges.

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