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Panthers in the Hole: French Angola 3 Book Illustrates US Prison Crisis –An interview with Nicolas Krameyer of Amnesty International France

4:36 pm in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

Panthers in the Hole: French Angola 3 Book Illustrates US Prison Crisis

–An interview with Nicolas Krameyer of Amnesty International France

By Angola 3 News

Amnesty International France and La Boîte à Bulles have published a 128-page French language graphic novel entitled Panthers in the Hole. The book’s co-authors David Cénou and Bruno Cénou present with visual art what Amnesty France describes as “la tragique histoire des Trois d’Angola” (the tragic story of the Angola 3).

Robert H. King, Herman Wallace, and Albert Woodfox are the trio of Black Panther political prisoners known collectively as the Angola 3. On October 1, 2013 Herman Wallace was dramatically released from prison after 41 years in solitary confinement. At the time of his release, he had been fighting terminal liver cancer for several months. Three days later, on Oct. 4, Herman was surrounded by loved ones as he passed on at a friend’s house in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Albert Woodfox remains in solitary confinement to this day and with only temporary respite from routine body cavity searches pending an upcoming ruling by the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. On April 17, 2014, marking 42 years since Albert Woodfox was first placed in solitary,  Amnesty International renewed its call for his immediate release (view Amnesty’s statement and essay) and today continues their online campaign (sign the petition here).

Robert King spent 29 years in continuous solitary confinement until his conviction was overturned and he was released from Louisiana’s infamous Angola State Prison in 2001. Himself the subject of a recent Canadian film, King spoke in Paris, France this past May at an event celebrating the release of Panthers in the Hole and has traveled Europe many times while on earlier speaking tours.

To further discuss the release of Panthers in the Hole and Amnesty France’s broader support for Albert Woodfox and the Angola 3, we interviewed NicolasKrameyer, who is head of the Individuals at Risk / Human Rights Defenders Program for Amnesty International France.

Angola 3 News:         Can you please tell us about your recent work related to the Angola 3?

Nicolas Krameyer:    Amnesty France has made the Angola 3 (A3) a priority campaign.

We included Albert and Herman’s case as part of our biggest annual event, known as Write for Rights in December 2012. In just a few weeks, at least 50,000 supporters signed the petition for an end to their solitary confinement.

We also organized a solidarity campaign where activists sent Herman and Albert messages of support. The letter-writers quickly received very strong and moving answers from Herman and Albert, which we then shared among other activists.

A few months later, we invited Robert King for a two-week speaking tour in France and Brussels, which gave national media coverage to the A3 and the widespread use of solitary confinement in the USA. Both the A3 case and the issue of solitary confinement were totally unknown to the general public. Even the partners and institutions with whom we normally work on human rights activism were not familiar with these issues.

A3N:   What do you think are the main reasons for the French public’s interest?

NK:     Beside the widespread publicity, I think there are 3 key factors that explain why so many people feel now concerned about the Angola 3 case:

(1) The monstrous nature of the case. There are very few examples in the world of such a blatant human rights violation for such a long period of time: more than 4 decades!

(2) The audience could follow the different steps of the clear campaign of vengeance lead by the local Louisiana authorities, like when the prosecutor appealed Albert’s third overturned conviction, or in October 2013 when the State authorities did their most to impede Herman’s release despite his health. That clearly angered people here in France, and one indicator of this was that journalists were publishing articles every time something new happened, which is quite rare.

(3) Lastly, this has been made possible because of Robert’s presence and strength, which he clearly communicated to all types of audiences, from the media to French officials and activists.

A3N:   Overall, how do you think Amnesty France’s A3 and anti-solitary campaigning has impacted France?

NK:     Previously, solitary confinement was not really considered a big human rights issue, except for some rare experts or USA specialists here. Guantanamo and death penalty continue to be the two main public topics in regards to human rights violations known in France. The A3 and Robert King gave a face to that common practice of cruel and inhumane treatment in the USA.

Even if we can’t go into details here, we know that probably for first time, French and EU governments officially raised this issue with their US counterparts.

A3N:   Can you tell us more about the new graphic novel, entitled Panthers in the Hole? How has it been received since being released in May? Read the rest of this entry →

(PHOTO: Artwork displayed at Herman Wallace’s memorial service. See more photos of the memorial service by Ann Harkness.)

Hard Time: Black Panther Robert H. King’s Life of Resistance

10:27 am in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

Razor Wire, Prison Cells, and Black Panther Robert H. King’s Life of Resistance
–An interview with filmmaker Ron Harpelle

A new 40-minute documentary film by Canadian History Professor Ron Harpelle, entitled Hard Time, focuses on the life of Robert Hillary King, who spent 29 years in continuous solitary confinement until his conviction was overturned and he was released from Louisiana’s infamous Angola State Prison in 2001.

Along with Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, Robert King is one of three Black Panther political prisoners known as the Angola 3. Last October, Herman Wallace died from liver cancer just days after being released from prison. Albert Woodfox remains in solitary confinement to do this day, with the upcoming date of April 17, 2014 marking 42 years since he was first placed there.

When Albert Woodfox’s conviction was overturned for a third time in February 2013, his release was halted because the Louisiana Attorney General immediately appealed to the US Fifth Circuit Court, despite an Amnesty International campaign calling on the AG to respect US District Court Judge James Brady’s ruling and not appeal. The Amnesty campaign (take action here) is now calling for Woodfox’s immediate release and last month released a new video interview with

In March, Amnesty released a new interview with Teenie Rogers, the widow of correctional officer Brent Miller, the man who Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were wrongfully convicted of murdering. “This needs to stop, for me and my family to get closure,” Rogers says. She expresses sadness that she tried but was unable to see Herman before he passed and explains: “I am speaking out now because I don’t want another innocent man to die in prison.”

In an email message sent out by Amnesty, Robert King said: “Teenie believes me. She believes that the Angola 3 had nothing to do with her husband’s murder. She believes that Albert Woodfox, Herman Wallace and I suffered years of cruel solitary confinement as innocent men…The state hasn’t done justice by her, either. She’s angry. We both are. Louisiana authorities are hell bent on blaming the wrong person. Well, I’m hell bent on setting him free.”

Hard Time was recently shown in Canada at both the Toronto and Montreal Black Film Festivals, following Robert King’s testimony in Chicago about solitary confinement at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science earlier that month. On April 20, Hard Time will be shown in Paris, with French subtitles, at the Ethnografilm Festival.

The full, 40-minute version of Hard Time can now be viewed online, along with Ron Harpelle’s previous film, entitled In Security. Our interview with him is featured below.

Angola 3 News:   How do the issues examined by your earlier film In Security relate to your new film, Hard Time, about Robert King, the Angola 3, and the use of solitary confinement in US prisons? How did In Security lead you to Robert King and the eventual making of Hard Time?

Ron Harpelle:   I stumbled onto Robert King while working on In Security, a film about barbed wire. I’m a historian who happens to make documentary films and what really interests me is how things we see as a part of everyday life have evolved and shaped the society we live in. My film about barbed wire shows how a simple 19th century innovation in agriculture became a means of restraining the movements of people and a universal symbol of oppression.

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One Year Later: Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3 is still not convicted or released

10:57 am in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

One year ago today, supporters of Albert Woodfox were elated when Judge Brady’s ruling on Albert’s criminal case was announced.  It was a THIRD overturning of his conviction!

How is it possible that an innocent man, who now stands unconvicted in the eyes of the law, remains locked in a solitary cage while he waits for the State’s endless appeal efforts to play out?

How can it be possible that an innocent man, who now stands unconvicted in the eyes of the law, remains locked in a solitary cage while he waits for the State’s endless appeal efforts to play out?  How many more appeals, how many courts will it take for the State to finally recognize that they’ve done enough to this man?

There are oceans of press – firsthand accounts, testimony, scientific reports, documentaries, videos, songs – all establishing the senseless torture that is solitary confinement in the U.S. today.  We are heartened by the significant solitary reforms agreed to by NY state this week and the Colorado guard who just publicly committed to eliminating solitary in Colorado. Yesterday’s second set of hearings called by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin on solitary confinement were better attended with more spirited commentary than the first hearing last year (A written statement jointly submitted to yesterday’s hearing by Robert King and Albert Woodfox is reprinted below).  We see a major shift occurring in the perception and use of solitary in this country. You can watch video footage of the hearings at CSPAN.

Across the country in California a prisoner who has spent more than 42 years in solitary, Hugo Pinell, was recently moved to another facility where he has greater access to visits and a promise of eventual transfer out of solitary. On the East Coast, the long time struggle to move Pennsylvania prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz out of solitary succeeded just last week.  State by state, correctional departments are reviewing this punishment modality that has raised such an outcry and are making changes.  We can only pray that the State of Louisiana will join the rest of the country in recognizing that solitary confinement should be abolished, and begin by opening the gates for Albert.

Robert King Tours US & Canada to Speak Out for Albert Woodfox and Against Solitary Confinement

As announced in our last newsletter, the Angola 3′s Robert King has been traveling in the US, speaking in Chicago about solitary confinement at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in Canada alongside screenings of the film Hard Time. Featured below is a compilation of media coverage.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

BBC News: Scientists call solitary confinement ‘damaging and unnecessary’  II  Japan Times / AFP: In prisons, solitary takes toll on minds  II  VIDEO: Science Magazine Live Chat w/ Robert King; Is Solitary Confinement Torture?  II  CNN: 29 Years in a Box

Hard Time Screenings in Montreal and Toronto, Canada

Tout Le Monde En Parle  II  Interview by Canadian Prison Radio Show  II  Morning News Montreal Televison Interview  II  La Presse: En croisade contre le milieu carcéral américain  II  Montreal Gazette Interview  II  Le Devoir: 29 ans d’isolement en prison

Angola Three: 42 Years of Solitary, 42 Years of Cruel and Unusual Punishment  
–A statement submitted for the February 25 Congressional hearing on the use of solitary confinement in US prisons

Dear Chairman Durbin and Ranking Member Cruz:

My name is Robert Hillary King.  I spent 29 years in solitary before I was freed in 2001 after proving my innocence.  Since then I have worked tirelessly speaking and traveling around the world  to raise awareness about prison conditions in the US, and to bring attention to the remaining member of the Angola 3-Albert Woodfox-who is still behind solitary bars in Louisiana after nearly 42 years  actively fighting to prove his innocence in federal court.

Albert Woodfox’s murder conviction was overturned for a 3rd time  in February of last year, and for a third time, the State of Louisiana appealed.  As Woodfox, now 67, prepares to enter his 42nd year in solitary confinement, he continues to maintain his innocence.

The third member of the Angola 3, Herman Wallace, was released  last October from 41 years of solitary confinement after his conviction was overturned,  but died 3 days later of advanced liver cancer at the age of 72.  A group of U.S. Congressmen saw fit to mark his passing by entering a tribute to Wallace into the Congressional record, describing him as a “champion for justice and human rights.”

Many people ask me to describe my nearly 3 decades in solitary. Here is an excerpt from my autobiography where I attempted to put these experiences into words:

Read the rest of this entry →

January NYC screening of ‘Hard Time,’ new film about Robert King of Angola 3

1:03 pm in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

(Above is a video of an A3 event with Robert King last year)

The new Canadian film about Robert H. King of the Angola 3, Hard Time, will be shown by New Filmmakers New York at 6pm on Wednesday, January 15, The screening will be held at 32 Second Avenue (at 2nd street) in New York City. Learn more about Robert King at, and read his autobiography. which includes this short description of his book From the Bottom of the Heap:

In 1970, a jury convicted Robert Hillary King of a crime he did not commit and sentenced him to 35 years in prison. He became a member of the Black Panther Party while in Angola State Penitentiary, successfully organizing prisoners to improve conditions. In return, prison authorities beat him, starved him, and gave him life without parole after framing him for a second crime. He was thrown into solitary confinement, where he remained in a six by nine foot cell for 29 years as one of the Angola 3. In 2001, the state grudgingly acknowledged his innocence and set him free. This is his story.

It begins at the beginning: born black, born poor, born in Louisiana in1942, King journeyed to Chicago as a hobo at the age of 15. He married and had a child, and briefly pursued a semi-pro boxing career to help provide for his family. Just a teenager when he entered the Louisiana penal system for the first time, King tells of his attempts to break out of this system, and his persistent pursuit of justice where there is none.

Yet this remains a story of inspiration and courage, and the triumph of the human spirit. The conditions in Angola almost defy description, yet King never gave up his humanity, or the work towards justice for all prisoners that he continues to do today. From the Bottom of the Heap, so simply and humbly told, strips bare the economic and social injustices inherent in our society, while continuing to be a powerful literary testimony to our own strength and capacity to overcome.

Ron Harpelle HARD TIME (2012, 41 minutes, video)

Hard Time is a film about Robert Hillary King of the Angola 3. King was a political prisoner who spent 29 years in solitary confinement in the infamous Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. The film focuses on racism and human rights in the U.S. penal system, and draws attention to the plight of Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, the other members of the Angola 3, who have been held in solitary confinement for more than 40 years. Together they formed they created a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party to fight for better conditions, security for inmates and justice behind bars.


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Tribute to Herman Wallace made for the US Congressional Record

1:39 pm in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

Herman Wallace’s sister, Victory Wallace, recently was sent this letter and a copy of the Angola 3 entry in the Congressional Record from Congressman John Conyers, Robert C. Scott, and Cedric L. Richmond. Featured are scans of the letter and entry, as well as a transcription of those documents. “Because of Mr. Wallace’s work, those of us in Congress who have called for his freedom will dedicate our future efforts to ensuring that no one anywhere in the United States is subjected to the unjust and inhumane treatment that he has endured,” said Conyers.
View the actual documents here.
View the Congressmen’s call in July of this year for a Justice Dept investigation into Louisiana prisons, where they cited the Angola 3, here.
Congress of the United States
House of RepresentativesOctober 10, 2013Dear Victory,

We extend our deepest condolences to you and your family on the passing of your brave brother.

Mr. Wallace’s courage and perseverance in fighting the inhumane treatment that he and his Angola 3 inmates were subjected to was an inspiration.

Attached to this letter is a copy of a tribute to Mr. Wallace that the three of us have included in the Congressional Record, which is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. This tribute will be a permanent entry in the Congressional Record, We hope that you will accept this as a small token of our respect and appreciation for his long years of bringing attention to the plight of prisoners held in unjust conditions.


John Conyers Jr.
Member of Congress

Robert C. “Bobby” Scott
Member of Congress

Cedric L. Richmond
Member of Congress

The full text of the tribute to Herman Wallace follows:

United States of America; Congressional Record


Vol. 159; WASHINGTON, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2013; No. 136; House of Representatives


Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, we rise to commemorate and celebrate the life and contributions of Herman Wallace, one of the bravest champions for justice and human rights whom we have ever met. Nìcknamed “The Muhammad Ali of Justice,” Mr. Wallace was a member of Louisiana’s “Angola 3” who spent 4l years in solitary confinement. Mr. Richmond and I had the opportunity to visit Mr. Wallace at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, justifiably called “the Alcatraz of the South” several years ago. I was impressed by his courage, determination, and dignity. We received word that Mr. Wallace passed away earlier this morning, only three days after he was freed pursuant to a federal judge’s ruling that he had not received a fair trìai in 1974.

Mr. Wallace began his struggle for justice back in the 1970s, when he, along with Robert King and Albert Woodfox, organized a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party at the Angola prison. He worked to desegregate the prison, to end systematic rape and violence, and for better living conditions for the inmates.

Mr. Albert Woodfox, and Robert King spent decades in solitary confinement–confined in cells no bigger than a parking space for 23 hours a day–for murders they say they did not commit. No physical evidence links them to these crimes. Potentially exculpatory DNA evidence has been lost, and the testimony of the main eyewitness has been discredited.

Mr. Wallace showed relentless courage and perseverance in fighting the injustice and inhumane treatment that he and his fellow Angola 3 inmates were subjected to. Even from the confines of solitary confinement, he filed lawsuit after lawsuit in an effort to bring attention to the conditions under which he and the others were being held.

The courts finally heard him this week, and some measure of justice was granted with his release. Mr. Wallace’s conviction has now been overturned. Mr. King’s conviction has been overturned. State and federal judges have overturned Mr. Woodfox’s conviction three times, yet Mr. Woodfox remains in prison–in solitary confinement–because of the State’s appeals.

On behalf of all who believe in fundamental fairness and justice, we commend Mr. Wallace’s courage and determination to keep fighting through 41 long years of solitary confinement. He is an inspiration to all of us.

Mr. Wallace had recently been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. With his release from prison, it was hoped that he would be able to receive the medical care that his advanced liver cancer required. Prior to his passing, Mr. Wallace’s legal team said, however, that his greatest hope was that his case would help ensure that others, especially his fellow Angola 3 member Albert Woodfox, would not continue to suffer the cruel and unusual confinement that he had suffered. Because of Mr. Wallace’s work, those of us in Congress who have called for his freedom will dedicate our future efforts to ensuring that no one anywhere in the United States is subjected to the unjust and inhumane treatment that he has endured.

Mr. Speaker, it was with great sadness that we learned of Mr. Wallace’s passing earlier this morning, nine days shy of his 72nd bìrthday. Mr. Wallace’s personal fight against injustice and the inhuman plight that is long term solitary confinement has ended for him. The larger fight against that injustice must go on, however, and his legacy will endure through a civil lawsuit that he filed jointly with his fellow Angola 3 members, Albert Woodfox and Robert King. That lawsuit seeks to define and abolish long term solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment.

Mr. Speaker, we ask my colleagues to join me in honoring Mr. Wallace for his many-decades-long fight for the humane treatment of prisoners. We, and all of us, owe Mr. Wallace a debt of gratitude.

Reps. Richmond, Conyers, Nadler, and Scott ask DOJ to investigage Louisiana Prisons; Cite Angola 3 case

5:04 pm in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

Below is the full text of the letter to the US Department of Justice and the accompanying press release issued today (view a PDF of the original letter).

For Immediate Release
Date: Friday, July 12, 2013 Contact: Andrew Schreiber (Conyers) – 202-225-6906
John Doty (Nadler) – 202-225-5635 David Dailey (Scott) – 202-225-8351
Monique Waters (Richmond) – 202-225-6636

Reps. Richmond, Conyers, Nadler, and Scott Lead Letter Calling for Investigation into Several Louisiana Prison Facilities

(WASHINGTON) – Today, 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.) sent a letter to the Department of Justice’s Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez calling for investigations into the alarming conditions in several Louisiana state prison facilities. Specifically, the Members expressed deep concern that the Louisiana Department of Corrections has, “engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the United States Constitution and federal law in its use of such confinement and detention practices.” In the letter the Representatives urge the Attorney General to begin an investigation into the use of solitary confinement, and other troubling detention practices, in numerous Louisiana prison facilities, especially in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, Louisiana.

The full version of the letter transmitted to the Department of Justice can be found below:

July 12, 2013

Honorable Thomas E. Perez
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Assistant Attorney General Perez:

Under the authority granted to the Attorney General pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Prisoners Act (“CRIPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997, we urge you to begin an in depth investigation into the egregious and extensive use of solitary confinement and other troubling detention practices in various Louisiana prison facilities, especially the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, Louisiana (“Angola”).  We have reason to believe that the Louisiana Department of Corrections (“Louisiana DOC”) has engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of the United States Constitution and federal law in its use of such confinement and detention practices. We believe that an investigation of conditions at Angola and other facilities under the control of the Louisiana DOC could yield evidence of knowing violations of the 14th Amendment Due Process Clause, the 8th Amendment Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause, as well as numerous additional violations of prisoners’ statutory and constitutional rights.

The Louisiana DOC has an abysmal history of protecting the rights of its prisoners, and the tragic story of the Angola 3 is a case in point.  Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox were charged with murder and convicted with evidence that has been called into question by numerous courts and stakeholders, including the victim’s wife. Another inmate, Robert King, was also subjected to decades of isolation after a wrongful conviction. His conviction was overturned and he was released in 2002.  Although held in isolation for being a purported threat to prison security, since his release he has toured the world speaking about his ordeal in isolation, and he was recently awarded an honorary Ph.D. from Cambridge University in England.

Since their convictions (which are currently under review in federal court), Woodfox and Wallace have endured over four decades of isolation.  This is an unprecedented period of time by any standard, and quite possibly the longest any person has spent in solitary confinement worldwide.  Within the last five years, Woodfox and Wallace have been transferred from Angola to other facilities in the Louisiana prison system, including the David Wade Correctional Center (“Wade”) and the Evalyn Hunt Correctional Center (“Hunt”), where we understand the very same complained-of constitutional and statutory violations have been perpetuated.  We understand that upon their transfers, brand new Closed Cell Restricted (“CCR”) tiers were created at these facilities, and additional inmates are now also confined on these tiers.  We have reason to believe that, as at Angola, many of the inmates housed in the CCR tiers of Hunt and Wade suffer from mental health and other serious illnesses.  Woodfox and Wallace continue to be held apart from the general prison population, to the detriment of their mental and physical health.

Indeed, after years of what we have been informed was sub-standard medical care, Herman Wallace was diagnosed just weeks ago with liver cancer.  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.

We also have reason to believe that at the Wade facility, 68-year-old Woodfox, and all CCR inmates there, are being subjected to daily strip searches whenever they enter or exit their cells, even when there is no basis or reasonable suspicion that they might be in possession of contraband.  We have been told that even when Woodfox is removed from his cell to go to the exercise yard, where he is being kept under surveillance of guards and apart from any other inmates or prison visitors, he is strip searched when he leaves his cell and upon return.

Moreover, we have reason to believe that the Louisiana DOC continues to knowingly engage in behavior that violates the due process rights of inmates held in solitary confinement.  The requirements of the 14th Amendment Due Process Clause call for periodic, meaningful hearings on the question of whether a prisoner should be held for continued closed cell restriction.  Yet, we are told that in many Louisiana DOC facilities, officials orchestrate sham 90-day reviews that take no consideration of a prisoner’s conduct while he was in solitary or the prisoner’s state of mind, and do not attempt to determine, by any defined standard, whether the prisoner should be released to a less restrictive cellblock or dormitory.  We have been informed that there may be more than 100 inmates who have been subjected to these fictitious reviews.

In addition to the above-detailed due process violations, this use of prolonged isolation over a period of 40 years at Angola and other Louisiana DOC facilities is indicative of cruel and unusual punishment, and its blatant and persistent use suggests that this practice is pervasive and not confined to the Angola 3. We have reason to believe that there are other inmates who have received less attention from the press who have also been subject to such onerous, punitive periods of isolation.

We do not allege these apparently unconstitutional patterns and practices lightly. Over the past 6 years we have engaged officials, inmates and stakeholders in conversations about conditions at the prison, and most of what we have heard is alarming.  Recently, lawyers representing inmates on Angola’s death row filed suit in federal court alleging that the conditions of confinement there are inhumane because the tiers are not air-conditioned, and the heat index goes as high as 195 degrees Fahrenheit in summer months.  On July 2, 2013, Chief U.S. District Court Judge Brian Jackson in the Middle District of Louisiana issued an order in that case directing that temperature data be collected for 21 straight days in advance of an evidentiary hearing set for August 5.  Just as with the death row at Angola, the CCR tiers at Angola, Wade and Hunt have no air-conditioning in the scorching Louisiana summer heat.

Finally, we have reason to believe that Louisiana DOC employees have colluded with persons from the Office of the Louisiana Attorney General to fabricate violations of prison rules to unjustifiably punish inmates. Significant issues also exist related to prisoners’ personal safety, unhealthy environmental conditions, inhumane sanitary conditions and excessive use of force by prison staff.  We have been told that e-mails between the Louisiana Attorney General’s office and Louisiana DOC employees document that, in the Fall of 2008, staff of the Attorney General’s office and Angola prison “joined forces,” as a February 10, 2010 Order of the federal District Court describes it, to search a year’s-worth of Wallace and Woodfox’s recorded phone calls for “‘sufficient justification for stiff disciplinary action.’”  Wilkerson v. Stalder, No. 00-304 (M.D.La.) (Doc. No. 374 at 9, 10).  This search coincided with proceedings related to Woodfox’s motion for bail after he was granted habeas relief by the federal District Court which was later overturned by a split Fifth Circuit panel.  We are told that as a result of their efforts to find pretextual disciplinary violations—which involved staff of the Attorney General’s office requesting and listening to privileged attorney-client calls—Wallace and Woodfox were written up for phone call violations; sentenced to a removal from the dormitory setting where they had peacefully resided for eight months; and placed back into isolation, where they remain today.

In this day and age, the federal government simply cannot abide unconstitutional behavior of this magnitude from those who run corrections facilities. It simply cannot be that in this country, a state can subject men to inhumane solitary confinement conditions, for decades on end, with no standards for the review procedures in place to ensure that such profoundly harsh confinement is justified, without intervention by our federal government.  As the Supreme Court found in Brown v. Plata, “prisoners retain the essence of human dignity inherent in all persons.”

In this spirit, we ask that the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section use the Department’s statutory CRIPA authority to investigate and ultimately take all appropriate action to ensure that Louisiana’s prison system fully complies with the mandates of the Constitution and all applicable statutes.  The Division’s work in the Orleans Parish Prison and St. Tammany Parish Jail cases have sent a strong signal that the Department is serious about its obligation to protect the rights of institutionalized persons in the State of Louisiana.  The situation at Angola, especially the treatment of the Angola 3, is ripe for investigation and immediate action.  We look forward to your earliest response.

Cedric L. Richmond, Member of Congress
John Conyers Jr., Member of Congress
Jerrold Nadler, Member of Congress
Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Member of Congress


Roy Austin, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice

Jocelyn Samuel, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice

Peter J. Kadzik, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legislative Affairs, Department of Justice

Jonathan M. Smith, Chief, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section, Department of Justice

The Honorable Bob Goodlatte, Chairman, House Committee on the Judiciary

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!

Feb. 2: Michigan Journal of Race and Law’s anti-solitary confinement symposium w/ Robert King, John Conyers, James Forman, Jr. and others

9:38 pm in Uncategorized by Angola 3 News

Solitary Confinement at Alcatraz

Solitary Confinement at Alcatraz


On February 2, 2013, the Michigan Journal of Race and Law is hosting a symposium at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, entitled “Inhumane and Ineffective: Solitary Confinement in Michigan and Beyond.” As described by the flyer posted below and the Journal’s website, the all-day event will be held on campus in Room 1225, South Hall. The keynote address will be given by James Forman, Jr.Please help us spread the word about this important event!


View the flyer here:

Announcing our 2013 Symposium!

Inhumane and Ineffective:
Solitary Confinement in Michigan and Beyond

February 2, 2013

Keynote Address by James Forman, Jr. Our 2013 Symposium page is now live.

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Download our Symposium poster here!

In the fall of 1993, four third-year law students at the University of Michigan Law School resurrected the then-defunct minority scholarship reading group, calling themselves the Critical Race Theory Reading Group. The Reading Group gave its participants, individually and collectively, the opportunity to read many of the authors who inspired them and made meaningful their experiences in law school. The Reading Group also provided a forum—and even a home—in which to explore issues of racial inequality, issues that were pervasive in the minds and lives of the students, but strangely absent in the traditional law school environment.

By the following year, the Reading Group participants had come to recognize the monthly discussions of critical race scholarship as a necessary component of legal education. The students saw the need for a broader forum that would encourage open discussion of issues of race and law at the University of Michigan Law School and beyond. These students started by working with the publication center after-hours, putting in their own time and effort at first without official recognition. Students and staff at the University of Michigan came together to create the Michigan Journal of Race & Law, which officially debuted in the winter of 1996.

Since then, the Michigan Journal of Race & Law has been a platform for the exploration of issues relating to race, law, and Civil Rights. The Journal is recognized for publishing cutting edge scholarship on a wide range of Civil Rights issues from diverse perspectives. Race and law intersect in endless ways. This has allowed the Journal to cover a huge number of topics in-depth and with great effect, including topics such as critical race theory, law & economics, immigration, education, criminal law, and beyond. The Michigan Journal of Race & Law takes pride in the many perspectives it embraces, publishing the views of scholars, students, practitioners, and social scientists. Since the inaugural issue, the Journal has become nationally recognized as one of the leading Civil Rights Journals in the country. In 2010, it was ranked third by Washington and Lee University School of Law in the category of Minority, Race and Ethnic Issues Journals.

If you would like to learn more about the Michigan Journal of Race & Law, please feel free to contact us as directed on our Contact Page. We appreciate your interest, and encourage you to learn more by picking up a copy of our current publication.

Michigan Journal of Race & Law
University of Michigan Law School
625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215

Telephone: (734) 763-4421
Fax: (734) 764-6043

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