Why Voters Organized Is Supporting Alonzo Knox for District 93, and Not a Formerly Incarcerated Candidate


Voters Organized is founded by people who have spent many years in prison. Our staff, alone, has over  300 years of prison experience, and our membership thousands more. For the last fourteen years, we have worked towards reducing the discrimination people face after convictions, increasing  opportunities, reducing recidivism, and building a stable society that sends fewer people to prison. Our common threads inspire ideas, and our success has paved the way for countless individuals and  organizations to forge their own paths. 

Most of our people were incarcerated before the age of 21, typically with very little formal education,  having lived in poverty, and experienced cycles and generations of trauma. The intersection of personal responsibility, cultural pressure, and intergenerational struggle in New Orleans are influenced by racial bias, historical policing patterns, and countless flaws in the criminal legal system (such as 10-2 verdicts,  lack of public defense, and holding people without charges for months on end). Just like most others, our members’ minds fully develop by age 25. Though unlike others, the opportunities available to us as young adults were limited to what existed in prison. We took advantage of educational opportunities while on the inside, learned the law and how the system worked, and then have taken that education and experience to work toward systemic change in our community. When someone wants to become a leader of any kind of group, they typically come up through the membership, through a shared pathway, and have long established that their own goals are aligned with the group goals. For us, there are those who were connected to us while inside, work collectively with us as Voters Organized members on the outside, and either join our staff as a leader or take their experience to use their leadership qualities elsewhere.  

In politics we task our representatives in government to be leaders, carrying the challenge of  representing an array of people. We put that leadership to a vote. The voters don’t often know too  much about who they are voting for. There are mailers and videos, and short stump speeches, but it is not often that someone can say they have known the candidate for years and had multiple interactions with them. This is the value of someone coming up through the district they seek to represent. Many believe that various political groups should always support someone who shares the group’s characteristics. Women’s groups should always support women; LGBTQ groups should always support… and on down the list. However, someone’s identity should not automatically qualify them to represent everyone else that identifies similarly. Some people believe that our group should support everyone who has a criminal record. And that is ridiculous because leadership requires trust and a proven track record. 

Before an endorsement, we consider factors such as whether a candidate shares our values of teamwork and integrity, so that we can distinguish whether someone is out for the “We” or the “Me.” We consider whether someone’s unethical behavior occurred in the past, likely before their mind was  fully developed, likely when they had few choices or a traumatic situation … or if that unethical behavior is not so far in the past, or even possibly current. In Louisiana, we have yet to find a formerly incarcerated candidate that we 100 percent relate with, who shares our common experience, and  unquestionably shares in our goals. Sibil “Fox” Richardson would like to be our representative at the  legislature for House District 93, and people continually ask why we are not supporting her since she is a formerly incarcerated woman. We definitely wish we could, and it pains us that, in good conscience, we can’t.  

Ms. Richardson has explained to all that she graduated high school and then earned both bachelor’s and a master’s degree as a young adult. She recently announced that she also served in the Navy Reserve around this same time. And then at age 27, she committed a bank robbery with her husband Robert Richardson and Ontario De’Wan Smith. In her book, Ms. Richardson cites inspiration to rob banks from the movie “Set it off,” about four women who rob banks. However, when caught, Mr. Richardson did not simply own up to it. In fact, as part of his alibi at trial, he testified under oath that his business was  thriving. The story has since shifted and in order to justify their decisions Ms. Richardson and her  husband now claim that their clothing business was failing because an unnamed investor, at the last minute, pulled out. We could not find a record (via the Secretary of State database) of either Mrs. Richardson or Mr. Richardson incorporating a business at this time. The couple’s story also fails to account for their additional convictions of jury tampering. While their book acknowledges their arrest, they never provide any further details about this, or that they each actually pled guilty to two counts of  jury tampering.  

What is even more troubling is that the story told by the Richardsons fails to account for relevant  activities prior to their bank robbery. For instance, Ms. Richardson characterizes her time in the Navy Reserve as heroic service but leaves out the federal theft conviction she has from the Barksdale Air  Force Base in 1993. She also oddly provides incorrect details about Operation Desert Storm (to where  she claims was “almost deployed”), off by the month and year of the cease fire. She lumps her  husband’s military service into her campaign materials, while in her book cites how he “got in some  trouble” while in the military. In both recounts, they leave out his 1994 felony conviction for weapons  possession in New Jersey. There are laws on the books preventing anyone with a dishonorable  discharge from using “service” to their advantage. Rather than provide a service record, their campaign  says, “it is public record.” Why did she wait until the run-off to cite her military service? Just seemed odd that Ms. Richardson won’t provide her discharge records. So we wrote to the military and await the record. 

Sibil Richardson did not use her college education or military service before, or after, her stint in prison. Her resume seems absent from (a) getting a job and (b) any successful businesses, yet she claims that she is  a small business owner, which gives her sufficient experience to represent our needs in the Louisiana Legislature. The only current businesses she owns according to the Secretary of State are called Timesaved, LLC and Rich Time Productions, LLC. Timesaved is not even in good standing because she has failed to file a basic annual report. If Ms. Richardson cannot keep her own business in good standing, it is difficult to trust that she can manage the business and interests of our community.

After her incarceration, Ms. Richardson started selling used cars, and this appeared to be her primary income for over a decade. There are many terrible reviews online for Rich Family Motors (or Rich Works LLC), but more jarring is the recent loan from NextGear Capital she has not only failed to pay off but has now been sued and has a court judgment for civil conversion. This court judgment was rendered against her in Indiana (2018), and then transferred to Orleans Parish in 2022 to force collection (2022-0147 Division N, Judge Ethel Julien). We believe this $81,532.30 is still unpaid. Meanwhile Ms. Richardson certified that she has no outstanding liabilities on her candidate filing in 2023.

Nobody doubts Ms. Richardson fought for her husband’s release from prison. We also fought for him, and thousands similarly situated, to have a chance at parole. Our work over the past 25 years included passage of the first Lifer parole law in Louisiana history, drafted and passed from inside Angola. Along the way, many people have fought for their own families whether wearing one of our t-shirts at the time or not. We are stronger together, and the shared banner is less important. But in the past decade, Sibil Fox Richardson attended a mere handful of our monthly meetings, never joined any committees, and generally would show up to grab the microphone to say something self-serving, then leave. Of the  countless bills and ordinances we worked on in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, we only remember her being there for the one in Baton Rouge that could impact her husband’s release. We can not recall her ever coming to a City Council meeting on any issue we have worked on, even though she lives just three blocks from the building.  

Not many are aware that Ms. Richardson lives in a high-rise in downtown New Orleans. None can  recall her saying she was an adjunct professor at Southern or Grambling, as she claims in her campaign materials. She formed a nonprofit called “Rich Family Ministries” several years ago and apparently used that for her motivational speaking fees. She has formed other LLCs and clearly put a great deal of effort into a documentary film and book about herself and her husband. She asked us numerous times for funding, whether to organize in their hometown Shreveport or to attend the Oscars. When she pulled together an idea that took root, it was based on a concept of a “participatory defense movement” that others have done around the country for years. She put her flag in the ground as “PDM NOLA,” yet put it under the nonprofit Rich Family Ministries for fiscal sponsorship, and seemingly mixed it together with her personal promotion (as her book’s speaking engagements are paid through the same as donations to PDM NOLA). 

Ms. Richardson is extremely smart and charismatic, and this attracts people to the promise of what may be possible. She rallied some impressive people to her side (including many endorsements for office) and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for PDM NOLA. Her website has people on it who are no longer with her, initiatives such as a Baton Rouge chapter that never happened, and claims credit for victories such as “Free MamaGlo” that you would think she alone manufactured. And sadly, Rich Family Ministries does not have the usual public financial disclosure (form 990) that a non-profit, aka “public charity,” is required to share. Several years of failing to file cost her non-profit status to be revoked by the IRS, which normally puts a young organization on notice to be extra careful. Especially if someone were to run for public office and cite their nonprofit as an example of their effectiveness. It is unclear they have done anything in months, and unclear if any Rich Family Ministries funding goes anywhere other than the Richardson Family. A disclosure of Rich Family Ministries 990 form might actually answer some of these questions. But we wonder what it will look like in comparison to Ms. Richardson’s financial disclosures for her campaign. 

We truly wish Ms. Richardson was one of us, and we wish we could trust her in a $15,000/ year position to make ethical choices on the people’s behalf. We wish she were a successful and ethical  businesswoman. It is with great sadness that we share this perspective, but the general good of the  community requires us to step up. Voters may still decide that she is the person they want to represent them, but they should have the opportunity to learn more about the candidates than what they put on a flyer. We do not envy the public scrutiny of people who run for office, as we know how it feels to have our personal lives opened to the world. But of all people who should be comfortable in talking plainly about their life, Ms. Richardson has put hers into book and movie form. This is yet another chapter.

Ms. Richardson’s opponent, Mr. Alonzo Knox, while not formerly incarcerated himself, comes from a  family that has had to deal with the impacts of incarceration. He has a proven track record of running a successful brick-and-mortar business and has experience with working in the Louisiana Legislature. Furthermore, Ms. Richardson has failed to provide any public information or platform about the kind of legislation and policy initiatives she intends to pursue. Whereas Mr. Knox intends to fight for legislation that will reduce crime and the impacts of incarceration, increase the wages for teachers, mitigate the impacts of climate change and make housing affordable and available to everyone. His holistic approach and experience are what is needed at this time. 

Editor’s note: an edit has been made to include that Ms. Richardson owns Rich Time Productions.



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