USA: state of Louisiana must release last 'Angola 3' man Albert Woodfox
New campaign comes a week after Herman Wallace’s death
Following the death last week of the “Angola 3” prisoner Herman Wallace, Amnesty International has launched a campaign for the release of his fellow prisoner Albert Woodfox (see www.amnestyusa.org/angola3 ).
Like Wallace, Woodfox has been held in solitary confinement for the majority of the last 40 years following a deeply flawed trial.
Despite prison records showing that Woodfox has not committed any serious disciplinary infractions for years and that he doesn’t pose a threat to himself or others, for most of the last four decades he has been confined to a small cell for 23 hours a day and denied access to meaningful social interaction or rehabilitation programmes.
Woodfox and Wallace were both placed in solitary confinement after the murder in 1972 of a prison guard called Brent Miller. Though there was no physical evidence to link them to the crime and though their convictions relied on highly dubious testimony, Woodfox and Wallace were later convicted of the murder.
Both men robustly denied any involvement in the crime, believing they were falsely implicated in the murder because of their political activism in prison as members of the Black Panther Party. After a long campaign Wallace was released last week, just days before he died of liver cancer. A federal judge who overturned his conviction said at the time that they would hold the state of Louisiana in contempt of court if it did not release Wallace immediately. Meanwhile, Albert Woodfox’s conviction has similarly been overturned three times, including by a federal judge earlier this year. However he continues to languish in jail after the state of Louisiana appealed against his release.
Amnesty International USA campaigner Tessa Murphy said:
“Nothing can justify the cruelty that the state has inflicted on Albert Woodfox. After an unsafe conviction and 40 years of cruel treatment, he must now be allowed his freedom.
“Were it not for the state of Louisiana’s dogged determination to appeal against these rulings, Albert Woodfox would almost certainly be a free man by now.
“Albert Woodfox has been in solitary confinement for decades, even though the case against him was based on flawed evidence and riddled with procedural errors.
“Enough is enough. The state of Louisiana must accept the federal court’s ruling and release Albert Woodfox from prison.”