(Reprinted below is a statement of support from Amnesty International, who has also released an accompanying blog posting by Amnesty UK’s Urgent Action Network, and a customized solidarity card for Herman and Albert on their Tumblr page.)
Herman Wallace of Angola 3 Diagnosed with Liver Cancer, Send Messages of Support
By Jasmine Heiss, Amnesty International USA’s Individuals & Communities at Risk Campaigner
After 41 years in solitary confinement, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace of the Angola 3 have lived through a nightmare that no human being should have to endure. We work on their case with the hope that, one day, we can share the news that these men have been released from solitary and have seen justice.
But today is not that day. Today I am deeply saddened to tell you that 71-year-old Herman Wallace has been diagnosed with liver cancer, after spending the majority of his life isolated in a small cell, four steps long, by three steps across for 23 hours a day. I’ve often described the Angola 3 case as “injustice compounded” – that description has never rung more true than today.
Albert and Herman were convicted of murdering a prison guard at Louisiana’s Angola prison more than four decades ago. The two men were placed in solitary confinement and kept there, even as significant flaws in their trial rose to the surface from the dark, racially charged underbelly of the US prison system: potentially exculpatory evidence mysteriously “missing,” the retraction of eyewitness testimony and even compelling proof that the state bribed a key eyewitness.
On February 26, 2013, a federal district court ruled to put an end to this shameful legacy of injustice, overturning the conviction of Albert Woodfox for the third time. Louisiana’s attorney general appealed the ruling, however, so Albert’s case is still pending in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Herman’s case is also under Federal Court scrutiny on the basis of prosecutorial conduct and constitutional violations – but as the wheels of justice grind slowly, Herman’s time is running out.
Herman’s condition is grave and we are still waiting for details of his prognosis. Once we know more, we will ask you to make your voices heard to the Louisiana authorities so that our calls for justice ring from the state’s northern border to the very end of the Mississippi river.
But until then, please join me in reminding Herman and Albert that they are not alone – that there are hundreds of thousands of people standing with them, even as the state tries to keep them in total isolation.
You can download cards to send to Herman and Albert here. You should add a personal message and, if possible, also send pictures of your hometown, nature or animals to lift the two men’s spirits. Albert and Herman are held in two different prisons, so please be sure to write to both of them separately – Albert is struggling with the news of his friend’s illness, so he needs your words of support just as much as Herman.
Once you’ve written your message, take a picture of yourself with your card and join our solidarity tumblr. Help us show the Louisiana authorities that Amnesty International supporters around the world will continue to shine a light of hope, even when faced with the bleakest injustice.
Address your cards to:
EHCC PO Box 174
St Gabriel, LA 70776
David Wade Correctional Center, N1A3
670 Bell Hill Rd.
Homer, LA 71040
Photo by Richard Moross released under a Creative Commons license.