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VIDEO: Azadeh Zohrabi on CA Hunger Strikers, Solitary Confinement, and Herman Wallace

5:02 pm in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

Azadeh Zohrabi spoke in San Francisco on November 8, 2013, at an event alongside Robert H. King of the Angola 3, who was released in 2001 after 29 years in continuous solitary confinement. We will be releasing more video footage soon, of both King and Zohrabi during the Q and A following the screening of the new film about King entitled Hard Time.

Azadeh Zohrabi has almost 10 years of experience visiting and advocating for people in California’s prisons. During this time, she has worked on a range of issues including improving the conditions of confinement for pregnant women and limiting the use of solitary confinement in both juvenile and adult institutions. Azadeh recently graduated from UC Hastings College of the Law and was awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship to work with Legal Services for Prisoners with Children on minimizing the use of long term solitary confinement in California. She is the author and co-author of two scholarly articles: Resistance and Repression: The Black Guerrilla Family in Context, and Creating the “Bad Mother”: How the U.S. Approach to Pregnancy in Prisons Violates the Right to be a Mother. Azadeh has been inspired by LSPC’s work long before she even thought about law school and is grateful for the opportunity to work with such experienced, dedicated and passionate advocates.

Watch video here  

A3 Newsletter: On a Move, But the Struggle Continues (Updates on Herman Wallace and more)

9:50 am in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

(Published by the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3, on August 5, 2013)

On July 12, Louisiana’s Hunt prison reduced Herman Wallace’s classification from maximum to medium security and transferred him out of solitary confinement into a 10-bunk dorm inside the prison hospital, where he has access to a day room, and does not have to wear leg irons.

While celebrating the more humane conditions, we emphasize that the transfer from solitary is not enough and we are asking folks to continue supporting Amnesty International’s call for compassionate release. If you have not yet done so, please take action here.

Expedited Review of Herman’s Case

There is also some exciting news in Herman’s long dormant habeas case. Judge Jackson began a recent status conference with Herman’s legal team by granting Herman’s request for expedited review.  He said he will not issue a formal ruling but has spoken with the Magistrate Judge (Riedlinger) and gotten assurances that he can and will issue his recommendation within 30 days. Then each side will have 14 days to submit simultaneous responses, and another 14 days after receiving the other’s first response to rebut. Judge Jackson said he is prepared to rule as soon as both sides have their final say.

Herman’s Health

In more disturbing news, it also came to light last week that the medical team at LSU, where the prison took Herman to for diagnosis 6 weeks ago, had actually ordered 2 rounds of oral chemo, to have started then, 6 weeks ago. However, the prison failed to administer this altogether, and as a consequence Herman’s tumor has continued to grow.  This proves what was already suspected–that the prison is not providing anything close to a reasonable standard of care. In fact it seems to be intentionally disregarding the medical advice that they themselves had sought. This is on the heels of a diagnosis that, by expert opinion, is at least six months later than it should have been given Herman’s recent medical past.  After some quick pressure from the legal team, Herman has now begun his oral chemo regimen. He has not yet experienced any pain related to the treatments and seems to have regained his appetite. Hopefully they can help slow the progress of his disease and give us some much needed time to ensure that his does not become the poster case for “justice delayed is justice denied.”

A3 Together Again

In more heartwarming news, last week Herman, Albert, and Robert were together again for the first time in several years, thanks to a court order granting them time to meet jointly with their attorneys in the lead up to the civil case next summer.  Obviously, they had tons of business to discuss during the 6 hour meeting, but as those lucky enough to have spent time with them in person know, there is something intangibly magical about each of these incredible men individually, and therefore something incredibly powerful and productive about them all being together in the same room once again. The attorneys have gotten a court order to have regular monthly meetings leading up to the trial next June.

New Song Dedicated to Herman

Amy Ray from the Indigo Girls has just released a new song inspired by Herman Wallace and the Angola 3, entitled The Rise of the Black Messiah. The song’s title is a reference to the infamous March 3, 1968 FBI COINTELPRO memorandum from one month before Martin Luther King’s assassination, declaring the need to “prevent the rise of a ‘messiah’ who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement,” with the then anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist King cited by the FBI as a potential ‘messiah.’

Reflecting on making her song about Herman, Amy Ray describes the challenge of finding words to describe what Herman has been subjected to: “Any person, let alone an innocent one suffering in solitary confinement for 40 years, is just paralyzing. There are no gray areas in the case of the Angola 3, this is clearly an abuse of human rights, but the historical context of it is so mind-blowing that it’s hard to write about.”

–Read Amy Ray’s full accompanying essay and listen to / download The Rise of the Black Messiah here.

A3 Solidarity With CA Prisoner Hunger Strike

Albert, Herman and Robert have all been involved in numerous hunger strikes from their early 1970′s strikes demanding that food trays not be shoved under the cell door on the floor for sanitary reasons, to their last hunger strike in 1998 to protest the prisons reduction of their hard won contact visit privileges and other diminishing rights.

Robert says: “During the early seventies, Albert, Herman, and I participated in hunger strikes. We understood then (and now) that this was an effective ‘tool’ to get the attention of the prison administration, and it sets the stage for further negotiations.”

This week, our media activist project, Angola 3 News, published video coverage of the July 31 protest in Oakland, organized in support of the hunger strikers in California. You can watch our short video clips of three different speakers here.

For the latest news on the hunger strike, stay tuned here.

VIDEOS: Oakland Protest Supporting CA Prisoner Hunger Strike (featuring Danny Murillo, Janetta Louise Johnson and Paige Kumm)

2:25 pm in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

At lunchtime on Wednesday July 31, Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza in downtown Oakland hosted a protest rally in support of the CA prisoner hunger strike that began on July 8. The rally was followed by a spirited march through downtown Oakland (view event photos here). This event was held in conjunction with other solidarity events around the world.

The rally’s MC, Jerry Elster from All of Us or None, announced the upcoming protest outside the west gate of San Quentin Prison at 2pm on August 3, and introduced a wide range of anti-prison activists who spoke in support of the current hunger strike in California prisons. Featured here are video clips from three of the rally’s speakers.

–Danny Murillo survived 14 years of solitary confinement in California prisons and is currently a student at the University of California at Berkeley.

–Janetta Louise Johnson from Transgender Intersex Gender Variant Justice, where she works as Program Coordinator for Member Leadership Development and the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People’s Movement. TGI Justice, who recently made a statement of support for the hunger strike, describes itself as “a group of transgender people—inside and outside of prison—creating a united family in the struggle for survival and freedom,” whose membership includes “low income transgender women of color and our families who are in prison, formerly incarcerated, or targeted by the police.”

–Paige Kumm from Causa Justa – Just Cause, where she works as a San Francisco Housing Rights Counselor/Organizer. The groups mission statement is to build “grassroots power and leadership to create strong, equitable communities. Born from a visionary merger between a Black organization and a Latino immigrant organization, we build bridges of solidarity between working class communities of color.”

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Ebony Magazine — Herman Wallace and Nelson Mandela: A Tale of Two Heroes

7:39 am in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

 

 

As public pressure continues to increase for Herman Wallace’s compassionate release, this new article was released by Ebony Magazine. If you have not yet done so, please take action with Amnesty International calling for Herman’s release.

From Ebony Magazine:

Two political prisoners: one past, one present, both lay dying. Two heroes of the Black liberation movement: one revered, one maligned, both endured decades of solitary confinement. Two men: one African, one African-American, both fought for the rights of African peoples. Two names: one internationally known, one unknown to many of his own countrymen. Both names echo the journey to overcome apartheid and segregation.

Although Nelson Mandela and Herman Wallace each fought for racial equity in their respective countries, South Africa and the United States, in the eyes of their governments these men will leave two very different legacies.

Who is Herman Wallace? The fact that you may be unfamiliar with him is neither a surprise nor an accident. For 41 years, Wallace has been confined to a 9ft by 6ft cell in the Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola) for a crime he maintains he did not commit. In 1971 he and his comrades Ronald Ailsworth, Albert Woodfox and Gerald Bryant established a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party with a mission to desegregate the facility, improve race relations, end prison rape and advocate for humane treatment in one of the nation’s most brutal penitentiaries.

For Wallace’s efforts to bring humanity into an existence of indentured servitude, prison guards repeatedly punished Black Panther members and other peacemakers they deemed to be troublemakers. Amid the pervasive prison violence the Panthers sought to quell, guard Brent Miller was stabbed and killed during a melee, and Wallace and two BPP members were implicated without rigorous investigation.

Read the full article at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/black-history/wallace-and-mandela-222#ixzz2ZWS…

Amnesty International: Don’t let Herman Wallace die alone, keep up the pressure

4:47 pm in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

Below is the full text of an email action alert sent out today by Amnesty International, who is continuing the push for Herman’s release from prison on humanitarian grounds. We are very thankful for Amnesty’s support.

 

As you may know, Herman Wallace may not have a lot of time left — he’s 71 years old, has advanced liver cancer, and has survived four decades of imprisonment in cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions of solitary confinement. But Herman is fighting for his life and for justice.

Today, we wanted to update you and shed just a bit of light into this bleak situation. On Friday, Herman Wallace was reclassified from a maximum to a medium security prisoner. That means he now has access to the day room and will no longer wear leg restraints — an incredible change for someone who has been held in isolation for more than 40 years.

Thank you to the more than 30,000 of you who helped make this possible. The wheels of change may turn more slowly than we’d like, but we remain committed to pursuing justice. Keep up the pressure.We will not give up.

 

Herman Wallace shouldn’t have to die behind bars.

Herman is 71 years old and has advanced liver cancer. He and fellow prisoner Albert Woodfox have been held in solitary confinement longer than anyone else in modern U.S. history. The men have spent the past 41 years of their lives alone in tiny cells for 23 hours a day, deprived of any meaningful human interaction.

No human being deserves to live like this. Herman Wallace should not die alone.

Urge Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to release Herman Wallace.

Why wouldn’t Louisiana officials simply release an elderly prisoner with advanced cancer on humanitarian grounds? Evidence suggests that it is in part because Herman dared to organize and speak out against inhumane treatment and racial segregation inside one of United States’ most brutal prisons.

Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox are the two imprisoned members of the ‘Angola 3′, three young black men who were thrown in solitary confinement after working against continued segregation, systematic corruption, and grave abuses in the infamous Angola prison. Originally imprisoned for unrelated cases of armed robbery, Herman and Albert were later convicted for the murder of a prison guard in 1972. However, no physical evidence links either man to the murder.

In the decades since Herman and Albert’s conviction, numerous legal concerns have risen to the surface from the racially charged underbelly of the U.S. prison system. These are just a few glaring flaws we documented in our report ‘100 Years in Solitary: The ‘Angola 3′ and their Fight for Justice’1:

  • DNA evidence that might have established the men’s innocence was somehow “lost”
  • Outcomes were based on questionable inmate testimony
  • Prison officials bribed the main eyewitness
  • One witness later retracted his testimony

Prison authorities have broken their own policies to justify Herman’s continued incarceration in harsh and inhumane conditions. After decades in these conditions, a highly questionable conviction that continues to be challenged by the courts and the now a tragic prognosis of terminal cancer, the next step seems all too clear: Herman Wallace should be released.

Help begin to correct more than 40 years of injustice right now – call on Louisiana’s Governor Bobby Jindal to release Herman Wallace immediately.

In Solidarity,

Jasmine Heiss
Amnesty International USA

P.S. Please join us in reminding the two men that we are standing with them, even if the state of Louisiana tries to keep them in isolation. Send your letter of support directly to Herman and Albert – show them you care.

Opening the Box: Sarah Shourd on Herman Wallace, California Hunger Strikers and the Horror of Solitary Confinement

10:51 am in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

(View new photo of Herman Wallace without leg irons, using an exercise bike, following his recent transfer from solitary confinement. Herman wanted to show supporters he is fighting to survive.)

Opening the Box: Sarah Shourd on Herman Wallace, California Hunger Strikers and the Horror of Solitary Confinement

By Angola 3 News

Who is Herman Wallace? .com
Last month, we were devastated to learn that the Angola 3’s Herman Wallace had been diagnosed with liver cancer, and that he was continuing to be held in isolation in a locked room at Hunt Correctional Center’s prison infirmary. Reflecting on his confinement while battling cancer, Herman said: “My own body has now become a tool of torture against me.”

On July 10, Amnesty International launched a campaign directed at Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, calling for Herman’s immediate release on humanitarian grounds (take action here). “After decades of cruel conditions and a conviction that continues to be challenged by the courts, he should be released immediately to his family so that he can be cared for humanely during his last months,” said Amnesty USA campaigner Tessa Murphy.
In recent years, Amnesty has initiated other campaigns challenging the over 41 years spent in solitary confinement by Herman and Albert Woodfox, also of the Angola 3, including the April 17, 2012 delivery of a 67,000 signature petition to LA Governor Jindal demanding Albert and Herman’s immediate release from solitary. Earlier this year, Amnesty called on Louisiana Attorney General James Caldwell to not appeal the US District Court’s overturning of Albert’s conviction. More recently, accompanying their call for Herman’s release, Amnesty also expressed concern about “the worsening conditions of confinement” for Albert at David Wade Correctional Center, where he remains in solitary confinement. “For approximately two months, Woodfox has been subjected to additional punitive measures – including strip searches each time he leaves or enters his cell, being escorted in ankle and wrist restraints, restricted phone access, and non-contact visits through a perforated metal screen. Temperatures in the prison cells are reportedly extremely high, regularly reaching up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit,” wrote Amnesty.

Public outrage intensified on Friday, July 12, when a letter citing the Angola 3 case, was sent to the Civil Rights Division of the US Justice Department by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Ranking Member of the full U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, and Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-La.). The letter called for an investigation of the Louisiana Departments of Corrections for its “abysmal history of protecting the rights of its prisoners,” of which the “tragic story of the Angola 3 is a case in point.”

About Herman Wallace, the Congressmen wrote: “We have heard that he lost over 50 pounds within 6 months.  Despite that dramatic weight loss, and at 72 years old, the prison did nothing to treat or diagnose him until he was sent to an emergency room on June 14.   Given the late stage of his diagnosis, his treatment options are now limited.  He is frail and ill, but is still being treated as if he is a threat to security, and we hear that he remains under lockdown conditions. This is unconscionable.”

Within hours of the letter’s release, Herman Wallace was transferred out of solitary confinement, when Louisiana’s Hunt prison reduced his classification from maximum to medium security. Herman is now staying at the prison hospital in a 10-bunk dorm, with access to a day room, and does not have to wear leg irons anymore. While celebrating the more human conditions, Herman and the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3 emphasize that the transfer from solitary is not enough. They are asking folks to continue supporting Amnesty International’s call for humane release. The Angola 3’s Robert H. King, himself released in 2001 after 29 years in solitary confinement, says, “The wind is at our back and with your continued help our objective will be realized – freedom is in sight.”

The case of the Angola 3 is at the center of a 42-day fundraising drive begun for a touring play, entitled Opening the Box, that will focus on the use of prolonged solitary confinement in US prisons. The choice of fundraising for 42 days is a tribute to the almost 42 years spent in solitary by Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox. The writer and producer of Opening the Box, Sarah Shourd, is herself a survivor, having spent 410 days in solitary confinement while held as a political hostage by the Iranian Government from 2009-2010. After returning to the US, she successfully fought for the release of her now-husband Shane Bauer and friend Josh Fatal.

Conceived specifically “to add to the momentum of a burgeoning movement” against solitary, Shourd will be working with Solitary Watch to “collect real stories from a diverse spectrum of people living in solitary confinement today–immigrants, children, lifers and women. Then, I’m going to write a play about it and go on tour.”

“While watching this play, I want the audience to breathe along with a young man having a panic attack after being denied a visit with his mother, to crawl inside the skin of an immigrant detainee terrified of being deported and to travel with a lifer on a magic carpet of memory–only to be pulled back into the stark, implacable reality of the hole. By hearing these stories, my hope is that the audience will be able to relate to the men and women enduring this torture in our prisons, to their pain but also to their resistance to the dehumanizing forces around them, their incredible resilience…and their refusal to be institutionalized,” explains Shourd.

In this interview, which Shourd dedicates to Herman Wallace, we take a closer look at her project, Opening the Box, as well as the ongoing prisoner hunger strike in California, the Angola 3 case, and the politics of prisons in the US. Currently based in Oakland, California, Shourd is an author and Contributing Editor at Solitary Watch. Before being captured by the Iranian government, Shourd was living in a Palestinian Refugee Camp in Damascus, Syria, working as a journalist and teaching for the Iraqi Student Project. She’s written for The New York Times, CNN, Newsweek’s Daily Beast and has a blog on Huffington Post. Her memoir (co-authored by Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal) will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Spring 2014. To learn more visit sarahshourd.com and/or follow her on Twiiter @SShourd.

Angola 3 News:         Why did you choose to spotlight the case of the Angola 3 with 42 days of fundraising?
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Marking 41 Years of Solitary, the Angola 3 Coalition launches campaign for a State Congressional Hearing to end prolonged solitary confinement in Louisiana

10:36 pm in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

 

 

A3 Newsletter: Four Score and One Too Many Years

–By the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3

Today, April 17, 2013, marks 41 years that Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace have been unjustly incarcerated in solitary confinement in Louisiana. This is 41 years of living in concrete and metal cages of 6 x 9 feet; 41 years of being separated from their families and loved ones; 41 years of being wrongly accused of a murder they did not commit.

Over 41 years ago, prison officials at the Louisiana State Penitentiary (aka ‘Angola’), an 18,000-acre former slave plantation, were first confronted by the Angola 3′s challenge to the obscene human rights atrocities that were a daily reality for prisoners there. They responded to these efforts by fabricating a case against Albert and Herman for the tragic murder of prison guard Brent Miller in 1972. Shortly thereafter, when Robert King entered Angola, he was ensnared in the aftermath of that murder and joined Herman and Albert in solitary.

Although the flame for justice for the Angola 3 continues to burn bright these many decades later, words cannot express the profound rage and frustration we feel commemorating one more year of Herman and Albert’s confinement. But we will not lose hope or forget how much we have already accomplished and just how close we are to winning both Herman and Albert’s release. Solitary confinement’s daily assault on Herman and Albert’s mind, body and spirit has not been able to deter them. Inspired by their heroic resilience on the frontlines of the struggle, we too, will never give up our fight for their release.

Continuing this fight for Albert, Herman and all prisoners, today we are launching an action to kick-start the call for a State Congressional Hearing to end the use of prolonged solitary confinement in Louisiana. Our friends at The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) have enabled this through their campaign calling “upon state legislators and departments of corrections to begin now to take steps to end prolonged solitary confinement” in all 50 states and the federal prison system.

We need only 500 people within a particular state to sign the statement and NRCAT will send these endorsements to that state’s governor, top corrections officials, and every member of that state’s legislature. When we hit 1,000 signatures they will do the same again. PLEASE spread the word to help us achieve our petition goal for Louisiana and in states across the country. Please sign this now.

The campaign for the Angola 3 grows in strength around the world, from local organizations to international NGO’s like Amnesty International (read their new statement marking 41 years) joining the call for justice. While Herman and Albert continue to live the hell that is solitary confinement, this cruel and unusual punishment is in the news more than ever before – with calls for its abolition from state congresses and increasing evidence of its violations to human rights.

Albert, Herman and Robert do not want anyone else to suffer the hellish torture they still endure today. Thank you all for your continued support. Without you the flame of justice would not burn so strongly.  Please mark this day by taking action to end the use of prolonged solitary confinement in Louisiana and the USA.

Events Mark 41 Years

This week you can also join us at one of the many events commemorating 41 years.

The new Canadian film Hard Time is screening this week in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

A 41-hour vigil on April 19-21, in New Orleans is being organized by the Angola 3 Movement, with Hard Time shown alongside more films and presentations.

In New York City, Herman’s House, the film, will premiere on April 19.

In Europe, Amnesty France is hosting a screening of In the Land of the Free in Paris on April 30.

 A Defined Voice 
–By Herman Wallace, 2006

They removed my whisper from general population

To maximum security I gained a voice

They removed my voice from maximum security

To administrative segregation

My voice gave hope

They removed my voice from administrative segregation

To solitary confinement

My voice became vibration for unity

They removed my voice from solitary confinement

To the Supermax of Camp J

And now they wish to destroy me

The louder my voice the deeper they bury me

I SAID, THE LOUDER MY VOICE THE DEEPER THEY BURY ME!

Free all political prisoners, prisoners of war, prisoner of consciousness.

Last Chance to take action w/ Amnesty Intl for Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3

11:58 am in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

There are only a few days remaining before Amnesty International ends their online action campaign urging Louisiana Attorney General James Caldwell to not appeal the February 25 ruling by US District Court Judge James Brady that overturned Albert Woodfox’s conviction. Because Caldwell has already said that he will appeal the ruling to the US Fifth Circuit Court, this public pressure is badly needed for Albert, who is now just weeks away from his 41st year in solitary confinement. If you have not yet done so, please take action here.

Angola Prison

Angola Prison

Watch MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry tell AG Caldwell to “lay off the Angola 3 already.” 
 

 (The statement below from Robert King was released as part of the March 27 issue of the A3 Coalition newsletter, which you can read in full here.)

Robert H. King responds to Louisiana Attorney General James Caldwell

Many thanks to all of you who have aided our cause and added your voices to our quest to free Albert from an obviously unjust imprisonment of more than 40 years. Please continue to make your voices heard and your dissent known, especially in light of the recent email response by Louisiana’s Attorney General, James Caldwell. One wonders: Why in the face of so many mitigating facts and circumstances would the Attorney General persist in his unethical efforts to pursue the persecution of Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace? Is it really justice he seeks, or is there something else he wants? The following may add some light to the subject.
When Woodfox was first granted a new trial in 1993, the Attorney General’s Office elected to retry the case, which is a rare occurrence. Twenty-three years earlier, John Sinquefield, a young and ambitious local assistant district attorney, prosecuted Albert and made repeated references/inferences to Albert’s political beliefs and militancy. Having had prior involvement in this case, Sinquefield could not (or chose not to) prosecute in his second hearing. However, this recusion (or self restraint) did not apply to his assistants. Enter Julie Cullen, an attorney working with Sinquefield.  It was Cullen who declared to the press, that she would retry Albert as “a ‘Black Panther.” During that trial in 1999,when I appeared as a character witness for Albert, Julie Cullen made repeated references to Woodfox’s militancy as Sinquefield had done before her and Woodfox was again convicted.

Sinquefield, Cullen and Caldwell were all previously connected to this case by the thread of time and they have all used this case to further their careers. Sinquefield and Caldwell are well-documented boyhood friends, who went to school together, graduated together and became lawyers together. In Sinquefield’s own words, “We’ve been friends, allies ever since.” Julie Cullen has worked with and been very close to both men. As you can see, their careers have been protected at all costs, even accusing innocent men of murder or rape, as Caldwell in his recent email has done once again.

Buddy Caldwell has long done a great disservice to people of intelligence, especially lawyers…and jurists, in his attempt to sell this malicious and unsubstantiated rape lie. If, in 1969 there had been actual evidence of Albert committing rape, why would the system instead choose to try Woodfox on only the lesser charge of robbery? According to Caldwell, Albert was considered “a career criminal.” The logical question therefore remains…If Albert had committed all of these other alleged crimes and was in fact a career criminal, why was he not prosecuted? Just for the record – any young black man that was arrested became a suspect for unsolved crimes. This was a process so widespread that across the country the practice is known as “clearing the books.”

It is in this same context that Caldwell has wrongfully accused Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace of committing the murder of prison guard Brent Miller. The evidence linking Herman and Albert to the crime is nonexistent. The bloody fingerprint at the scene of the crime did not match Herman or Albert’s. A knife found at the scene of the crime had no fingerprints on it at all. Other DNA evidence that allegedly had Albert’s specks of blood on it was lost by the prison. Furthermore, multiple alibi witnesses testified that Albert and Herman were in other parts of the prison at the time of the murder. In contrast, it has been proven that state witnesses were bribed to lie under oath. Albert’s conviction has now been overturned three times, and Herman’s conviction is similarly under Federal Court scrutiny for evidence exposing prosecutorial misconduct and constitutional violations.
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Robert H. King: End 41 years of cruel and inhuman solitary confinement for Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3

11:19 am in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

 

My name is Robert H. King. I was released on February 8, 2001 after spending 31 years in prison – 29 of them in solitary confinement at the infamous Louisiana State Prison also known as ‘Angola’.

Confined there with me were Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace, the other two friends who make up ‘the Angola 3′. Herman and Albert have now spent 41 years in prison. And though they are no longer housed at Angola, both remain in solitary confinement at another prison – a punishment Amnesty has described as ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading’.

Prior to and since my release from prison, I have continued to campaign to free Herman and Albert. Last week, that campaign took a huge step forward with the ruling by a federal district court that there was racial discrimination in the selection of the jury foreperson prior to Albert’s re-trial in 1998.

Louisiana’s Attorney General has already filed his intention to appeal this against this ruling. But he can still do the right thing and end four decades of injustice by letting the ruling stand, clearing the way for Albert to be re-tried or simply walk free at last.

I know what being locked up in that cramped, dark cell does to a man, and I fear for my friend Albert whose physical and mental health is failing. The sense of how cruelly and unjustly Albert and the rest of us were treated still burns as strong as ever – as does my will to end their ordeal.

This isn’t the first or even the second time Albert’s conviction has been overturned. Previously judges have cited racial discrimination, misconduct by the prosecution and inadequate defense in their rulings. There is also troubling evidence that a key eyewitness against Albert had been bribed, and no physical evidence linking him to the murder has ever been found.

However, I also know how many of you share my sense of injustice and that we can count on your ongoing support. When I spoke to Albert last week he asked me to pass on his gratitude to his ‘legions of supporters’ across the world.

Wednesday, April 17 will mark the 41st anniversary of our incarceration in Angola. Please help ensure that this year it is a day of hope – or even freedom – for my friend, Albert Woodfox.

Power to the people!

As ever,

Robert H. King
The only freed member of the Angola 3

 
**Please support Albert Woodfox by sending an email to Attorney General Caldwell, via Amnesty International’s online action page!

Louisiana Attorney General Says Angola 3 “Have Never Been Held in Solitary Confinement”

8:31 pm in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

March 21 article by James Ridgeway and Jean Casella, reprinted from Solitary Watch

James “Buddy” Caldwell, attorney general of the state of Louisiana, has released a statement saying unequivocally that Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, the two still-imprisoned members of the Angola 3, “have never been held in solitary confinement while in the Louisiana penal system.”

In fact, Wallace, now 71, and Woodfox, 66, have been in solitary for nearly 41 years, quite possibly longer than any other human beings on the planet. They were placed in solitary following the 1972 killing of a young corrections officer at Angola, and except for a few brief periods, they have remained in isolation ever since.

The statement from Caldwell follows on the heels of a ruling by a federal District Court judge in New Orleans, overturning Albert Woodfox’s conviction for the third time–in this instance, on the grounds that there had been racial bias in the selection of grand jury forepersons in Louisiana at the time of his indictment. Subsequently, Amnesty International, along with other activists, mounted a campaign urging the state of Louisiana not to appeal the federal court’s ruling. In the absence of an appeal, Woodfox would have to be given a new trial or released.

Caldwell’s statement–which was rather mysteriously sent out to an email list that included numerous prisoners’ rights advocates who have supported the Angola 3–begins: “Thank you for your interest in the ambush, savage attack and brutal murder of Officer Brent Miller at Louisiana State Penitentiary (LSP) on April 17, 1972. Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace committed this murder, stabbing and slicing Miller over 35 times.”

Caldwell clearly states that he has every intention of appealing the District Court’s decision to the notoriously conservative Fifth Circuit: “We feel confident that we will again prevail at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, if we do not, we are fully prepared and willing to retry this murderer again.” Caldwell asserts that the evidence against Woodfox is ”overpowering”: “There are no flaws in our evidence and this case is very strong.”

These statements belie the fact that much of the evidence that led to Wallace and Woodfox’s conviction has since been called into question. In particular, the primary eyewitness was shown to have been bribed by prison officials into making statements against the two men. (For more details on the case, see our earlier reporting in Mother Joneshere, here, here, and here.) The two men believe that they were targeted for the murder, and have been held in solitary for four decades, because of their status as Black Panthers and their efforts to organize against prison conditions. (The third member of the Angola 3, Robert King, convicted of a separate prison murder, was released after 29 years in solitary when his conviction was overturned in 2001).

But Caldwell’s most controversial assertion is that Wallace and Woodfox’s conditions of confinement over the past 40 years do not qualify as solitary confinement:

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