Photos from press conference and delivery of petition to free Albert Woodfox, at Louisiana State Capitol, Oct.21

MEDIA COVERAGE:  Times-Picayune  II  The Advocate  II  The Republic / AP  II  KBOO Radio interviews Robert H King

Robert H King speaks outside LA State Capitol

(View more photos below)

Click on image above to read the statement of support from LA State Rep. Patricia Smith

Congressman Cedric Richmond’s statement for October 21:

“I am firm in my resolve to continue the fight to address the horrors of long term solitary confinement in a meaningful way. The plight of the Angola 3 has shined a disinfecting light on this terrible, unconstitutional practice of indefinite solitary confinement without meaningful due process reviews. This past summer, I joined the prominent Ranking Members of the Full House Judiciary Committee and relevant subcommittee Ranking Members in asking the Department of Justice to examine the practice in its use in Louisiana jails. We are continuing to monitor the situation and promise all of you assembled today that the sacrifices of the Angola 3 will not be in vain. We will continue to fight to ensure that prisoners are dealt with in a manner that is consistent with the constitution and I am currently exploring transformative legislation on this very topic. I look forward to partnering with you all to ensure that this story is told and will use my position on the House Judiciary Committee to make certain that we serve the interests of justice. Thank you all for your hard work on this issue and please know that my office stands as a resource to those fighting for justice.”

Louisiana State Capitol


Victory Wallace, Herman’s sister

Calendars mark over 41 years in solitary

Robert H King, released in 2001.

Jasmine Heiss of Amnesty Intl.
Michael Mable, Albert Woodfox’s brother
Former A3 investigator Billie Mizell reads a message from Teenie Rogers, the widow of slain prison guard Brent Miller: “Each time I look at the evidence in this case, I remember there is no proof that the men charged with Brent’s death are the ones who actually killed him. It’s easy to get caught up in vengeance and anger, but when I look at the facts, they just do not add up.”

Malik Rahim, early A3 supporter and former Panther

Rev. Dr. Patricia Bates
Petitions delivered.

Sign Amnesty Intl Petition to Release Albert Woodfox Immediately; To be hand delivered at Louisiana State Capitol on Oct. 21

Please sign the Amnesty International petition to release Albert Woodfox here!

(FLYER: Join Amnesty and the A3 Coalition on Oct. 19 in New Orleans and Oct. 21 at the Capitol in Baton Rouge)

Amnesty International has launched a new campaign demanding Albert Woodfox’s immediate release from prison (featured below), declaring that “Herman died a free man. Let’s help Albert live as one.” Indeed, it is now its up to us to continue Herman Wallace’s fight for justice. We must do everything we can to have Albert released from prison as soon as possible.

The widespread media coverage documenting Herman’s struggle for release during his final months has exposed the horror of ‘Louisiana Justice’ for anyone who is willing to look. Consequently, the world is disgusted by the inhumanity and repression endured by the Angola 3.

Last week, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, called for Albert’s immediate release from solitary confinement. “Keeping Albert Woodfox in solitary confinement for more than four decades clearly amounts to torture and it should be lifted immediately,” said Mr. Méndez. “I am deeply concerned about his physical and mental condition.” Read the full UN statement here.

We are inspired by Herman’s release, yet outraged that it took so long. Today, we firmly believe that the momentum created by Herman’s struggle, the recent UN statement for Albert, and now the Amnesty campaign, is the final push we need to make Albert’s freedom a reality. This is our best chance ever for Albert’s release and the time for action is now. Please join us in Louisiana for events on Saturday, October 19 and Monday, October 21. More information about the events and campaign to free Albert are featured below.

Please sign the Amnesty International petition to release Albert Woodfox here!

 
“Enough is Enough!” Join Us and Demand Albert Woodfox’s Immediate Release

Amnesty International’s campaign is calling on James Caldwell, Attorney General of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana, James M. LeBlanc, Secretary of the Department of Public Safety, and Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General, to release Albert from prison. The email action and a separate press release are both reprinted below, in full.

As part of their campaign, Amnesty International is organizing two upcoming events in Louisiana with Angola 3 supporters.

On Saturday, Oct. 19,
there will be a second line parade in honor of Herman in New Orleans, at 2:00 pm, starting at St. Augustine Catholic Church, 1210 Governor Nicholls Street, and concluding at the Louisiana Supreme Court, 400 Royal Street. Bring your banners, wear your t-shirts and join the parade for Herman!

On Monday, Oct. 21, there will be a media conference at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge with congressional champions and Angola 3 advocates who will hand deliver tens of thousands of signatures calling for Albert’s release. Amnesty and supporters will gather at 12:00 noon on the steps of the Capitol, 322 State Capitol Drive. For transportation from New Orleans, a bus will leave from St. Augustine Catholic Church, 1210 Governor Nicholls St. at 9:45 am. Join us for this important event.

Later, on the evening of the 21st, at 8:00 pm, A3 supporter Jackie Sumell, of Herman’s House, will be speaking at Tulane University (Kendall Cram, LBC). See the event flyer here.

Herman died a free man. Let’s help Albert live as one.

Herman Wallace died nine days before his 72nd birthday. The famed ‘Angola 3′ prisoner succumbed to liver cancer on Friday, 3 days after being released from prison.

Herman survived more than 41 years of isolation, becoming a fierce activist calling for an end to the cruel, inhuman use of solitary confinement.

He died a free man, but the search for justice is far from over. The third member of the Angola 3, Albert Woodfox, is STILL being held in solitary confinement.

Enough is enough — call on Louisiana authorities to free Albert Woodfox.

Albert was placed in solitary after a 1972 murder that he maintains he did not commit. There is no physical evidence linking him to the crime.

Albert’s conviction has already been overturned three times — most recently by a federal district court — but the state obsessively appeals every time the court rules in his favor.

Tell the Louisiana authorities to free Albert Woodfox today.

Before he died, Herman said this about Albert and their struggle for human rights:

“I want the world to know that I am an innocent man and that Albert Woodfox is innocent as well…The state may have stolen my life, but my spirit will continue to struggle along with Albert and the many comrades that have joined us along the way here in the belly of the beast.”

I never met Herman, and yet I will always remember him as larger-than-life — a symbol of resistance to human rights abuses and injustice who refused to be silenced. More than 110,000 people like you rose up to free him — Now it’s time to shine the light for Albert — take action.

In solidarity,

Jasmine Heiss
Campaigner, Individuals and Communities at Risk
Amnesty International USA

(End of email alert. The Oct. 10 Amnesty USA press release begins.)

(PHOTO: Louisiana State Capitol, April 17, 2012)

Louisiana Must End Campaign of ‘Vengeance’ Against Remaining Angola 3 Prisoner Albert Woodfox

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, strimel@aiusa.org, 212-633-4150, @AIUSAmedia

(NEW YORK) – Following the death of Herman Wallace, who was held in solitary confinement for nearly 40 years, Amnesty International today launches a campaign demanding the release of his co-defendant Albert Woodfox, who also has been held in cruel conditions of isolation following a deeply flawed trial.

‘Enough is enough,’ said Steven W. Hawkins, Amnesty International USA executive director. ‘Nothing can justify the cruel treatment that the state of Louisiana has inflicted on Albert Woodfox. It’s simply unconscionable for the state to hold him one day longer. His trial was flawed and his conviction has been overturned three separate times. Authorities must let the most recent court ruling stand and release Woodfox from prison. At this point, Louisiana officials seem to be out for vengeance; instead, we call on them to act in the interest of justice and see that he is released.’

Woodfox and Wallace were both convicted of the 1972 murder of prison guard Brent Miller. There was no physical evidence to link them to the crime and their convictions relied primarily on the dubious testimony of a sole eyewitness who received favorable treatment in return for his testimony.

Both men have robustly denied any involvement in the crime. They believe they were falsely implicated in the murder because of their political activism in prison as members of the Black Panther Party.

Earlier this year a federal judge overturned the conviction. However, Woodfox continues to languish in prison after the state of Louisiana appealed against his release.

During a legal process that has spanned four decades, Woodfox’s conviction has been overturned three times.

‘Were it not for the state of Louisiana’s dogged determination to appeal against these rulings, Woodfox would almost certainly be a free man by now,’ said Tessa Murphy, an Amnesty campaigner.

Wallace was released last week just days before he died of liver cancer. A federal judge who overturned his conviction said it would hold the state in contempt of court if it attempted to appeal the case.

For most of the last four decades, Woodfox has been confined to a small cell for 23 hours a day, denied access to meaningful human interaction and rehabilitation.

Prison records show that Albert has not committed any serious disciplinary infractions for years and that he doesn’t pose a threat to himself or others.

Take action: Demand the release of Albert Woodfox.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

Sign Amnesty Intl Petition to Release Albert Woodfox Immediately; To be hand delivered at Louisiana State Capitol on Oct. 21

Please sign the Amnesty International petition to release Albert Woodfox here!

(FLYER: Join Amnesty and the A3 Coalition on Oct. 19 in New Orleans and Oct. 21 at the Capitol in Baton Rouge)

Amnesty International has launched a new campaign demanding Albert Woodfox’s immediate release from prison (featured below), declaring that “Herman died a free man. Let’s help Albert live as one.” Indeed, it is now its up to us to continue Herman Wallace’s fight for justice. We must do everything we can to have Albert released from prison as soon as possible.

The widespread media coverage documenting Herman’s struggle for release during his final months has exposed the horror of ‘Louisiana Justice’ for anyone who is willing to look. Consequently, the world is disgusted by the inhumanity and repression endured by the Angola 3.

Last week, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, called for Albert’s immediate release from solitary confinement. “Keeping Albert Woodfox in solitary confinement for more than four decades clearly amounts to torture and it should be lifted immediately,” said Mr. Méndez. “I am deeply concerned about his physical and mental condition.” Read the full UN statement here.

We are inspired by Herman’s release, yet outraged that it took so long. Today, we firmly believe that the momentum created by Herman’s struggle, the recent UN statement for Albert, and now the Amnesty campaign, is the final push we need to make Albert’s freedom a reality. This is our best chance ever for Albert’s release and the time for action is now. Please join us in Louisiana for events on Saturday, October 19 and Monday, October 21. More information about the events and campaign to free Albert are featured below.

Please sign the Amnesty International petition to release Albert Woodfox here!

 
“Enough is Enough!” Join Us and Demand Albert Woodfox’s Immediate Release

Amnesty International’s campaign is calling on James Caldwell, Attorney General of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana, James M. LeBlanc, Secretary of the Department of Public Safety, and Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General, to release Albert from prison. The email action and a separate press release are both reprinted below, in full.

As part of their campaign, Amnesty International is organizing two upcoming events in Louisiana with Angola 3 supporters.

On Saturday, Oct. 19,
there will be a second line parade in honor of Herman in New Orleans, at 2:00 pm, starting at St. Augustine Catholic Church, 1210 Governor Nicholls Street, and concluding at the Louisiana Supreme Court, 400 Royal Street. Bring your banners, wear your t-shirts and join the parade for Herman!

On Monday, Oct. 21, there will be a media conference at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge with congressional champions and Angola 3 advocates who will hand deliver tens of thousands of signatures calling for Albert’s release. Amnesty and supporters will gather at 12:00 noon on the steps of the Capitol, 322 State Capitol Drive. For transportation from New Orleans, a bus will leave from St. Augustine Catholic Church, 1210 Governor Nicholls St. at 9:45 am. Join us for this important event.

Later, on the evening of the 21st, at 8:00 pm, A3 supporter Jackie Sumell, of Herman’s House, will be speaking at Tulane University (Kendall Cram, LBC). See the event flyer here.

Herman died a free man. Let’s help Albert live as one.

Herman Wallace died nine days before his 72nd birthday. The famed ‘Angola 3′ prisoner succumbed to liver cancer on Friday, 3 days after being released from prison.

Herman survived more than 41 years of isolation, becoming a fierce activist calling for an end to the cruel, inhuman use of solitary confinement.

He died a free man, but the search for justice is far from over. The third member of the Angola 3, Albert Woodfox, is STILL being held in solitary confinement.

Enough is enough — call on Louisiana authorities to free Albert Woodfox.

Albert was placed in solitary after a 1972 murder that he maintains he did not commit. There is no physical evidence linking him to the crime.

Albert’s conviction has already been overturned three times — most recently by a federal district court — but the state obsessively appeals every time the court rules in his favor.

Tell the Louisiana authorities to free Albert Woodfox today.

Before he died, Herman said this about Albert and their struggle for human rights:

“I want the world to know that I am an innocent man and that Albert Woodfox is innocent as well…The state may have stolen my life, but my spirit will continue to struggle along with Albert and the many comrades that have joined us along the way here in the belly of the beast.”

I never met Herman, and yet I will always remember him as larger-than-life — a symbol of resistance to human rights abuses and injustice who refused to be silenced. More than 110,000 people like you rose up to free him — Now it’s time to shine the light for Albert — take action.

In solidarity,

Jasmine Heiss
Campaigner, Individuals and Communities at Risk
Amnesty International USA

(End of email alert. The Oct. 10 Amnesty USA press release begins.)

(PHOTO: Louisiana State Capitol, April 17, 2012)

Louisiana Must End Campaign of ‘Vengeance’ Against Remaining Angola 3 Prisoner Albert Woodfox

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, strimel@aiusa.org, 212-633-4150, @AIUSAmedia

(NEW YORK) – Following the death of Herman Wallace, who was held in solitary confinement for nearly 40 years, Amnesty International today launches a campaign demanding the release of his co-defendant Albert Woodfox, who also has been held in cruel conditions of isolation following a deeply flawed trial.

‘Enough is enough,’ said Steven W. Hawkins, Amnesty International USA executive director. ‘Nothing can justify the cruel treatment that the state of Louisiana has inflicted on Albert Woodfox. It’s simply unconscionable for the state to hold him one day longer. His trial was flawed and his conviction has been overturned three separate times. Authorities must let the most recent court ruling stand and release Woodfox from prison. At this point, Louisiana officials seem to be out for vengeance; instead, we call on them to act in the interest of justice and see that he is released.’

Woodfox and Wallace were both convicted of the 1972 murder of prison guard Brent Miller. There was no physical evidence to link them to the crime and their convictions relied primarily on the dubious testimony of a sole eyewitness who received favorable treatment in return for his testimony.

Both men have robustly denied any involvement in the crime. They believe they were falsely implicated in the murder because of their political activism in prison as members of the Black Panther Party.

Earlier this year a federal judge overturned the conviction. However, Woodfox continues to languish in prison after the state of Louisiana appealed against his release.

During a legal process that has spanned four decades, Woodfox’s conviction has been overturned three times.

‘Were it not for the state of Louisiana’s dogged determination to appeal against these rulings, Woodfox would almost certainly be a free man by now,’ said Tessa Murphy, an Amnesty campaigner.

Wallace was released last week just days before he died of liver cancer. A federal judge who overturned his conviction said it would hold the state in contempt of court if it attempted to appeal the case.

For most of the last four decades, Woodfox has been confined to a small cell for 23 hours a day, denied access to meaningful human interaction and rehabilitation.

Prison records show that Albert has not committed any serious disciplinary infractions for years and that he doesn’t pose a threat to himself or others.

Take action: Demand the release of Albert Woodfox.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

We Speak Your Name (A3 Newsletter about Herman Wallace’s Memorial Service)

HONORING HERMAN:  Tribute made by US Congressmen Conyers, Richmond, and Scott  II  Mural and Banner in North Carolina  II  Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Message for Herman’s Memorial (in SpanishII  Washington Post  II  New Orleans Public Radio  II  Rev. Mae Elise Cannon, Huffington Post

ON HERMAN’S RELEASE:  Herman’s Conviction Overturned and Immediate Release Ordered! (morning of Oct. 1)  II  Judge Jackson Denies State’s Request for a Stay and Issues Second Order for Herman’s Immediate Release (afternoon of Oct. 1)  II  Free At Last! Herman Has Finally Been Released (evening of Oct. 1)  II  West Feliciana DA Says Herman Has Been Reindicted (Oct. 3)  II 
The “Muhammad Ali of the Criminal Justice System” Passes On (Oct. 4)  II  Turning Grief Into Strength; Oct. 12 Memorial Service in NOLA (Oct. 7)
 

(A3 Coalition Newsletter, Oct. 13, 2013)

Yesterday, Herman Wallace was laid to rest after a memorial service befitting his liberation roots.  New Orleans supporters, friends and family came together to create a magnificent send off for Herman, just the way he wanted it.

As a proud black man who struggled for justice for himself, his comrades, his people and all people, Herman wanted the remembrance to be in a community space and to provide a forum for many of his supporters to speak and most importantly to bring people together.  As you’ll see from the photos below, it was a memorable occasion. You can also read the statement that Albert Woodfox wrote for Herman, featured below.

Join Amnesty for the second line parade in honor of Herman in New Orleans on Saturday, October 19, at 2:00 pm, starting at St. Augustine Catholic Church, 1210 Governor Nicholls Street, and concluding at the Louisiana Supreme Court, 400 Royal Street.

Rest in peace and in power Herman Wallace – the struggle continues.

Herman Wallace… We Speak Your Name & Those of the Ancestors

Essay by Mariame Kaba
Photos by Ann Harkness

(click on photos to view full size / higher resolution)

Herman Wallace would have turned 72 years old today. Instead on October 4th, he died in his sleep, his body ravaged by liver cancer. Wallace had just been released from a Louisiana prison three days earlier after having spent over 40 years in solitary confinement in a 6 by 9 cell.

Among his final words, he is reported to have said: “I am free. I am free.” It’s a minor miracle that he was able to die surrounded by friends instead of in a prison hospital. A judge overturned his 1974 conviction for the murder of a guard at Angola prison and ordered his immediate release. Only a couple of days later, while he lay dying in his hospital bed, the state of Louisiana filed charges to re-indict him. There was actually a question as to whether he might be re-arrested. Louisiana was determined that Wallace should die in prison by any means necessary.

Yesterday, Wallace was buried and I’ve been thinking again about the fact that some of his final words before dying were about being “free.” Is death the only way for black people to be “free?” As Wallace’s family continues to raise money to cover the expenses incurred by his funeral, one has to wonder if even death can liberate blackness from captivity.

This brings me to the story of Prince Mortimer who I have been thinking a lot about since hearing of Herman Wallace’s death. Mortimer died in 1834 in Wethersfield State Prison. He was 111 years old. Prince Mortimer arrived in America when he was 6 years old from Guinea in West Africa. He was enslaved in Middleton Connecticut and imprisoned at 87 years old for attempting to poison one of his masters, a man by the name of George Starr.

If not for a brief mention of him in an 1844 book by Richard Phelps titled Newgate of Connecticut : its origin and early history, Prince Mortimer’s story would have been lost to us. Instead, a lawyer turned writer named Denis R. Caron wrote a book about his life titled A Century in Captivity: The Life and Trials of Prince Mortimer, a Connecticut Slave. Frankly the book does a much better job at describing early American prison history than it does at painting a comprehensive picture of Mortimer’s life and of slavery. This is mostly because primary source material about Mortimer is almost non-existent. Regardless, it was through this book that I first learned of him.

When he was 103 years old, Mortimer was transferred from Newgate prison which was being permanently shuttered to Wethersfield State Prison. There, he spent his final days in solitary confinement in a 3 1/2 by 7 cell without water or heat. He was still expected to work even at his advanced age. When Prince Mortimer died in 1834, he was buried in the prisoners’ cemetery in an unmarked grave.


And so I’ve been thinking about Herman Wallace in his tiny cell for over 40 years and of Prince Mortimer who spent 105 years in captivity. I’ve been thinking about the connections between their lives 140 years apart. Mortimer died incarcerated in 1834 and Wallace was sentenced to life in prison in 1974. In the brief account about Mortimer in Phelps’ 1844 book, he writes:

“He appeared a harmless, cleaver old man, and as his age and infirmities rendered him a burden to his keepers, they frequently tried to induce him to quit the prison. Once he took his departure, and after rambling around in search of some one he formerly knew, like the aged prisoner released from the Bastille, he returned to the gates of the prison, and begged to be re-admitted to his dungeon home, and in prison ended his unhappy years.”

As an enslaved black man in America, Mortimer had been prepared for his prison existence. After all, he’d already spent 81 years in bondage & captivity before he set foot inside Newgate prison. Wallace also understood that as a black man, he had been born into a captive society in a state of confinement where his opportunities were curtailed. Yet, there was something in Wallace’s spirit that always refused to be caged. I’d like to think that perhaps Prince Mortimer was by his side whispering, “Hold on, son. Don’t let them break you.”

Maybe Mortimer lived & died so that Herman Wallace could experience three days of freedom before his passing. My mother likes to say that as black people living today, we’ve already been paid for through our ancestors’ suffering. I don’t know if I agree. But I do know that Herman Wallace stands on the shoulders of Prince Mortimer. And that I stand on Wallace’s which means that I can see more of the horizon than either Mortimer or he could.

Prince Mortimer & Herman Wallace, I speak your names in the hope that those who will stand on my shoulders make it closer to true freedom.

I speak your names…
I speak your names…
I speak your names…

Rest in Power!

–Mariame Kaba is the director of Project NIA.
 
Farewell Herman
By Albert Woodfox

Well, the old man has decided to leave us! I am sure it was a very hard choice for him, who will I serve, the ancestors who have called me home, or humanity whom I love so much?

Old man, was my term of endearment – it had to do with the age of everything – to do with his heart and soul. Herman “Hooks” Wallace was not a perfect human being, and like all men, he had faults and weaknesses, but he also had character! He could make me so mad, that I wanted to rip his head off! Then he would melt my heart with a word, or act of kindness to another human being.

On October 1st sitting in a hospital room, with the other part of my heart (Robert H. King), I tried to will a miracle and it was granted, not the miracle of life that I wanted but the miracle of freedom!  After 42 years of tireless struggle against evil, he was a free man!

I wanted so badly to witness his walk to freedom, but it was not to be, I had to leave, but after losing my mother, sister and brother in law to cancer, I was at peace!

I had a chance to say goodbye to my comrade in the struggle, my mentor in life, my fellow panther and most of all, my friend. Herman taught me that a man can stumble, even fall, as long as he gets up. That it’s OK to be afraid, but hold onto your courage. To lose battle, is not the loss of a war!

Herman Wallace’s greatest pride was joining the Black Panther Party for self defense! He believed in duty, honor and dedication. He never broke the faith of the party, his comrades or the people. As I bent to kiss his forehead, my heart said goodbye – I love you forever – my soul said – separated but never apart – never touching, but always connected. He was the best of us, as long as we remember him, he lives on.

All Power to the People!

Albert “Shaka Cinque” Woodfox

(Photos of banner and mural from North Carolina)

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Demands the Release of Albert Woodfox from Solitary Confinement

MEDIA COVERAGE:  The Advocate  II  Al Jazeera  II  Washington Post / Associated Press  II  UPI  II  Amnesty International: “We now need to focus on the fact that after all this time Albert Woodfox is still being held in solitary confinement. This must end immediately.”

Reprinted below is a new statement released today by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, demanding Albert Woodfox’s immediate released from solitary confinement.
 US: “Four decades in solitary confinement can only be described as torture” – UN rights expert

GENEVA (7 October 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, today called on the United States to immediately end the indefinite solitary confinement imposed on Albert Woodfox since 1972.

Mr. Woodfox was convicted of murder together with Herman Wallace, who was released last week when his conviction was overturned on appeal. A day later, on 2 October, Mr. Wallace died after battling cancer, having spent 41 years in solitary confinement.

“This is a sad case and it is not over” stressed Mr. Méndez. “The co-accused, Mr. Woodfox, remains in solitary confinement pending an appeal to the federal court and has been kept in isolation in a 8-foot-by-12 foot (2.5 x 3.5 m. Approx.) cell for up to 23 hours per day, with just one hour of exercise or solitary recreation.”

“Keeping Albert Woodfox in solitary confinement for more than four decades clearly amounts to torture and it should be lifted immediately,” said Mr. Méndez, who has repeatedly urged the US Government to abolish the use of prolonged or indefinite solitary confinement. “I am deeply concerned about his physical and mental condition.”

“The circumstances of the incarceration of the so-called Angola Three clearly show that the use of solitary confinement in the US penitentiary system goes far beyond what is acceptable under international human rights law,” the independent investigator on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment noted.

Mr. Méndez welcomed the federal court ruling of 1 October 2013, but noted that the use of solitary confinement and its negative effects on inmates is widespread throughout the US penitentiary system.
“Persons held in solitary confinement should always be allowed to challenge the reasons and the length of the regime, and should always have access to legal counsel and medical assistance,” Mr. Méndez said.

The human rights expert urged the US Government to adopt concrete measures to eliminate the use of prolonged or indefinite solitary confinement under all circumstances.

“I call for an absolute ban of solitary confinement of any duration for juveniles, persons with psychosocial disabilities or other disabilities or health conditions, pregnant women, women with infants and breastfeeding mothers as well as those serving a life sentence and prisoners on death row,” he said.

The Special Rapporteur addressed the issue of solitary confinement in the US in his 2011 report* to the UN General Assembly and in numerous communications to the Government. He has also repeatedly requested an invitation to carry out a visit to the country, including state prisons in California, but so far has not received a positive answer.

“It is about time to provide the opportunity for an in situ assessment of the conditions in US prisons and detention facilities,” Mr. Méndez reiterated.

Juan E. Méndez (Argentina) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on 1 November 2010. He is independent from any government and serves in his individual capacity. Mr. Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights, and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. He is currently a Professor of Law at the American University – Washington College of Law and Co-Chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association. Mr. Méndez has previously served as the President of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) until 2009, and was the UN Secretary-General Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide from 2004 to 2007, as well as an advisor on crime prevention to the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court, between 2009 and 2010. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.aspx

(*) Check the 2011 report on solitary confinement: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N11/445/70/PDF/N1144570.pdf?OpenElement or http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?m=103

UN Human Rights Country Page – United States of America: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/USIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Sonia Cronin (+41 22 917 91 60 / scronin@ohchr.org).

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

West Feliciana District Attorney Says Herman Wallace Has Been Reindicted

(Herman Wallace, in ambulance after his release.)

In an article published this evening, Lauren McGaughy of the Times-Picayune cites an announcement by West Feliciana District Attorney Samuel D’Aquilla, that a grand jury has reindicted Wallace. McGaughy writes further that:


George Kendall, one of Wallace’s attorneys, said no one on his legal team was notified of the indictment Thursday. Documents filed in Louisiana’s Middle District on Thursday show D’Aquilla notified the court of his intent to reindict Wallace.

“We have not received any official notification of an indictment, but if it is true, we are shocked that a state grand jury was asked to indict a man who has only days to live,” Wallace’s legal team said in a statement.

Kendall said he was “not surprised” that D’Aquilla didn’t notify Wallace’s legal team, but said the situation is disappointing and unusual.

McGaughy concludes that “the reindictment is largely a political move, as D’Aquilla said he would not ask that Wallace be put back behind bars, and also wouldn’t set a court date until the end of the year..” Read the full article here.

Please check back for an A3 Coalition statement in response to this news.