The final ‘Angola Three’ inmate to be freed after 43 years in solitary confinement
June 9, Louisiana:A Louisiana state judge,ordered the release of an inmate Albert Woodfox, who has been in solitary confinement for over 40 years.
On Monday, Judge James Brady had ordered the unconditional release of Woodfox and he has also barred a third trial, saying it would not be fair.
Judge Brady also banned prosecutors from trying Woodfox, 68, for a third time as he has been in solitary confinement since 18 April 1972 after a prison riot that resulted in the death of a guard.Woodfox, was tried twice for the guard’s death, but both convictions were later overturned. He denies all the charges.
According to reports, Prosecutors will appeal Judge Brady’s ruling “to make sure this murderer stays in prison and remains fully accountable for his actions”, a spokesman for the Louisiana attorney general said.
Woodfox is the last remaining imprisoned member of a group of three inmates known as “Angola Three”, were involved with the Black Panther Party, and have kept saying that they were imprisoned for crimes they did not commit, with convictions only obtained after blatant mistrials.
The Black Panther Party was a revolutionary black nationalist and socialist organization which was active in the United states from 1966 until 1982. The Party’s core practices included armed citizens’ patrols to monitor the behavior of police officers and challenge police brutality.
In 1969, community social programs became a core activity of party members. The Black Panther Party instituted a variety of community social programs, most extensively the Free Breakfast for Children Programs, and community health clinics.However, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover reportedly called the party “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and he is said to have supervised an extensive program (COINTELPRO) of surveillance, infiltration, perjury, police harassment, and many other tactics designed to undermine Panther leadership, incriminate party members, discredit and criminalize the Party, and drain the organization of resources and manpower.
The program was also accused of using assassination against Black Panther members. The three men Robert Hillary King (born Robert King Wilkerson), Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were put in solitary confinement in Louisiana State Penitentiary, a.k.a. Angola Prison, in April 1972 after the killing of a prison guard.
Robert King spent 29 years in solitary confinement before his conviction was overturned and he was released in 2001.Wallace was released on October 1, 2013, after more than 41 years in prison after protests by Amnesty International to release him on humanitarian grounds, because he was 71 years old and was suffering from advanced liver cancer. Woodfox is currently the longest-standing solitary confinement prisoner in the US, having served 43 years.
On November 20, 2014, Woodfox had his conviction overturned by the US Court of Appeals, and in April 2015 his lawyer applied for an unconditional writ for his release.
The three prisoners have been the subject of two documentary films and international attention and have also been the focus of a long-running international justice campaign.
The Oslo Times and Agencies