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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:

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