This public forum, entitled “The Outer Limits of Solitary Confinement,” held at UC Hastings College of the Law, in San Francisco on April 6, 2012 was organized by the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3, and co-hosted by the Hastings chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and the Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal.
The event marked 40 years of solitary confinement for Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3, by exploring the expansion and overuse of solitary confinement, mobilizing support for the Amnesty International Petition to remove Wallace and Woodfox from solitary confinement (being hand delivered to LA Governor Bobby Jindal on Tuesday, April 17) and support for the California Hunger Strikers. Read more about the event here.
Featuring the following speakers:
· Robert King, of the Angola 3, released in 2001 after 29 years of solitary confinement.
· Hans Bennett, Independent journalist and co-founder of Journalists for Mumia
· Terry Kupers, Institute Professor at The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California
· Manuel La Fontaine, Northern California Regional Organizer for All of Us or None
· Aaron Mirmalek, Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee Oakland
· Kiilu Nyasha, Independent journalist and former member of the Black Panther Party
· Tahtanerriah Sessoms-Howell, Youth Organizer for All of Us Or None
· Luis “Bato” Talamantez, California Prison Focus and one of the San Quentin 6
· Azadeh Zohrabi, Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal
· Stuart Hanlon, lawyer for Geronimo Pratt.
· David Newton, Editor in Chief of the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly
· Kelly Turner, author and former three-strike prisoner.
· Anita Wills, member of Occupy 4 Prisoners and mother of Kerry Baxter Sr., a three-strike prisoner.
Below is the full text of Amnesty International’s press release for tomorrow’s delivery of the petition at the State Capitol:
Amnesty International Press Release
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Marking 40 Years of “Inhuman” Solitary Confinement for Angola 2 Prisoners, Amnesty International Set to Deliver Tens of Thousands of Petition Signatures to Louisiana Governor
Press Conference/Photo Op Planned Tuesday, April 17 at State Capitol Building – 40th Anniversary of Inmates’ Solitary Confinement
Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Baton Rouge, La.) – On Tuesday, April 17, on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol, Amnesty International will deliver more than 65,000 petition signatures from people worldwide, calling on Governor Bobby Jindal to immediately remove two Louisiana inmates from “inhuman” solitary confinement, where they have been held for 40 years – and denied meaningful review as to why.
On April 17, 1972, Albert Woodfox, now 65, and Herman Wallace, 70, serving a sentence for armed robbery, were placed in an isolation unit in Louisiana State Penitentiary – known as Angola Prison, charged and later convicted of the murder of a prison guard. The two men consistently denied involvement in the killing of Brent Miller. No physical evidence links them to Miller’s murder and documents have emerged suggesting the main eyewitness was bribed into giving statements against the men and that the state withheld evidence about the perjured testimony of another inmate witness. A further witness later retracted his testimony.
“Holding elderly men in six by nine foot cages after four decades – when they pose no threat — is inhuman and unjust,” said Everette Harvey Thompson, director of Amnesty International’s Southern Regional Office. “What evidence is there that these men are so dangerous that they must be subjected to these conditions? They have clean disciplinary histories. Afterfour decades of solitary confinement, they are physically and mentally frail. The only explanation is that they are being held in solitary confinement as retribution for political activity.
“Governor Jindal and the Department of Correction’s policies regarding the Angola 2 push the boundaries of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and fly in the face of international standards to which the United States is a party. Forty years of isolation is an outrage and must end!”
At a press conference to take place at 2-3 p.m. (central time) April 17 on the steps of the Capitol building following the petition delivery, Amnesty International’s Thompson will be joined by Robert King, the only freed man of the original Angola 3, who was held for 29 years; Alfreda Tillman Bester, general counsel to the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP, and Angola 3 family and friends.
In June 2011, Amnesty International released a report, “100 Years in Solitary: The Angola 3 and Their Fight for Justice,” which outlines the unjust confinement of Woodfox, Wallace and King.
In the brutal conditions of the prison in the 1970s, Woodfox and Wallace founded a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party to campaign for better conditions and fair treatment. King joined the effort. The men believe they were falsely implicated in the murder because of their political activism in prison. Evidence has emerged to suggest the decision to hold them in solitary was based at least in part on their activism and association with the Black Panther Party.
Today, Woodfox and Wallace suffer from serious health problems, their lawyers say; Woodfox suffers from diabetes, heart disease and hypertension while Wallace has osteoarthritis and memory loss. The years of isolated confinement aggravated or exacerbated their health problems, their lawyers contend.
Woodfox and Wallace are confined to their 6.5 by 9 feet cells for 23 hours a day and allowed out only to exercise alone in a small outdoor cage, or to shower or walk along the cell unit corridor.
They have limited access to books, newspapers and television. For the past four decades they haven’t been allowed to work or have access to education. Social interaction has been restricted to occasional visits from friends and family and limited telephone calls.
They have also been denied any meaningful review of the reasons for their isolation.
To read the report, “100 Years in Solitary” please visit: http://www.amnestyusa.org/research/reports/usa-urged-to-end-inmates-40-year-long-solitary-confinement
A short video on the story of the “Angola 2″, which includes an interview with Robert King, who spent 29 years in solitary confinement in the same prison, is available on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kotf68mrqCI
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
For more information, visit www.amnestyusa.org
Twitter: @amnesty Facebook: Amnesty International USA