Forty-two years in solitary confinement is 42 years too long. Albert Woodfox should be released now from a Louisiana prison. On Nov. 20, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. The three-judge panel ruled unanimously to uphold a lower court’s decision to overturn Woodfox’s conviction for killing a prison guard.
On Feb. 26, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge James A. Brady had reversed Woodfox’s conviction on the basis that racial discrimination was involved in grand jury selection in his 1998 retrial. The same judge had made the same ruling in 2008, but it was reversed under a reactionary federal law. Louisiana’s attorney general has appealed the recent appeals court’s decision.
Supporters from around the country attended Woodfox’s hearing before Judge Brady in May 2012. Workers World activists were there and reported on it, reviewing the long fight for justice and freedom by the Angola 3: Woodfox, Robert King and Herman Wallace.
Published in WW on June 8, 2012, the article said, “Woodfox’s case began 40 years ago, deep in rural southern Louisiana, when he and two other young Black men, Herman Wallace and Robert King, were silenced for exposing racial segregation, systematic corruption and horrific abuse in the biggest prison in the U.S. at that time, an 18,000-acre, former slave plantation called Angola.
“Protests such as hunger strikes and work stoppages were organized by prisoners, as were political education classes. A chapter of the Black Panther Party was formed. Prisoners called for investigations to uncover numerous unconstitutional and inhumane practices.
“After a prison guard was killed in a 1972 rebellion, officials framed the three activists and threw them into solitary confinement.” King got out of prison in 2001. Wallace was released a year ago, but died of cancer three days later.
Woodfox was imprisoned at Angola for 40 years, and then transferred to David Wade Correctional Center. He has been kept in solitary the longest of any U.S. prisoner. Woodfox maintains his innocence; the facts are on his side.
After the favorable decision in 2013, ruthless Louisiana prison officials retaliated and stopped Woodfox’s contact visits without explanation. After protests, the visits were reinstated but with such complex regulations that it is nearly impossible for him to have visitors. Prisoners in Louisiana do not have the legal right to see visitors.
Supporters of Woodfox have initiated a campaign, “Give Albert a hug for the holidays,” and request letters be sent to Secretary of Corrections Jimmy LeBlanc, asking that Woodfox be allowed to have visitors. LeBlanc’s address, fax and phone numbers, and a sample letter can be found at the Angola 3 News blog (angola
3news.blogspot.com/). Also, send holiday greetings to Albert Woodfox, #72148, at David Wade Correctional Center, 670 Bell Hill Road, Homer, LA 71040.
The fight is far from over. Free Albert Woodfox.