The most disturbing part of freedom, Woodfox says, has been the dawning realisation since his release that in America in 2016 there is very little sense of political or social struggle. When he entered prison in the 1970s the country was on fire with political debate; now, as he puts it, “everybody seems to be ‘Me, me, me, me, me.’ It’s all about me, what I need and how I’m going to get it.”
That public indifference has in turn, he believes, allowed solitary confinement to flourish, to the extent that 100,000 Americans are subjected to it each year.
“The people and the government and the courts have turned their back on prisons, and that lets the wardens and officers act as judge, jury and executioner,” he says. “People don’t seem to be socially aware, that’s why solitary confinement exists and why it’s so brutal. Because nobody cares.”