After a quarter-century behind bars, Brandon Jackson is fighting back against Louisiana’s last Jim Crow law.

In 1997, Brandon Jackson was convicted for a crime he said he did not commit. An Applebee’s restaurant outside of Shreveport, Louisiana was robbed for $6,500. Nobody was injured. There was no physical evidence connecting him to the crime.

At trial, two jurors voted to acquit him. In 48 states, it would have been a mistrial, and he may have walked free, but Louisiana’s Jim Crow-era laws, designed to lock up Black defendants, allowed for nonunanimous jury convictions. Jackson was sentenced to life.

Conviction opens in the days after Brandon Jackson has been released on parole after 25 years in jail. The film follows Jackson as he grapples with the agoraphobia, paranoia and alienation borne of a quarter-century of unjust imprisonment.

The menial work available to him triggers memories of the slavery-like conditions at Louisiana’s notorious plantation prisons. He struggles against a parole system that demands more than $11,000 in fees and sends officers to his home before dawn. He concludes he is “free but not free”.

Over time, he finds community in a support group for formerly imprisoned people, and a sense of purpose advocating to reverse Louisiana’s last Jim Crow law.

Conviction is a portrait of one man’s quest to adjust to life on the outside and help the more than 1,500 people he left behind in prison with nonunanimous, Jim Crow convictions.

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