A3 Newsletter: The March of Freedom Continues

(PHOTO: Albert Woodfox at a meeting of VOTE-Shreveport on October 21. Albert is standing in the back row, sixth person from the right. Click on the photo for a larger image).

A3 Newsletter, Nov. 18, 2017:
On The Road Again

As another year draws to a close, Albert and King are busier than ever traveling the country and the world, sharing their stories and providing inspiration and hope that good things can happen in this horribly broken criminal justice system.

Next week they’ll be heading to Belgium and Germany to work with their friends at Amnesty on launching another Write for Rights Campaign.

It’s been a whirlwind of a year for the guys that began with trips to San Francisco to speak at the Exploratorium and UCSF Psychology Dept., then to Toronto and Montreal before heading to Denmark and Sweden, the premiere of their film, Cruel and Unusual in NYC and Los Angeles and a myriad of other events across the county to support multiple efforts. We look forward to wrapping up the year with A3 supporters next month with a report back from their European tour.

One of the most difficult things that Albert has had to deal with since his release is the many, many requests he receives from prisoners for assistance.  As A3 supporters know, success in this effort took over 20 years to achieve, with hundreds of individuals using all their creativity and energy and resources to draw attention to this case, not to mention a rafter of skilled lawyers and investigators. It is heart breaking for Albert to receive letter after letter from prisoners and their families and friends who share their stories of abuse and denial of rights inside and to have so little one can offer as help.  

We recall several years ago reading about a wrongfully convicted prisoner who wrote ten letters every day for the 14 years he was incarcerated to lawyers and organizations before he reached someone who heard his story, agreed to help and he was released. There are no silver bullets and no straight path towards justice, just lots of hard work, searching for legal assistance, a committed support group and some lucky breaks seem to be the only advice we can pass on.  

We’re so grateful that Albert is finally free and that he and Robert are able to enjoy their lives out here in minimum security with family and friends. However, as wonderful as it is to have come this far and to have both Albert and Robert free, justice was not served in this case. Freedom is the consolation prize that has committed them to keep on working for the freedom of others.  

Albert and Robert Will Return to Europe for a Visit to Belgium and Germany with Amnesty International

Later this month, Robert and Albert will be going to Germany and Belgium to launch Amnesty’s annual Write for Rights campaigns which encourages activists to write to political prisoners around the world. They will also be meeting activists at public events and continuing to campaign & lobby for an end to solitary confinement and the release of political prisoners.

In Brussels, Belgium, Albert and Robert will appear at the “Write for Rights” kickoff on Saturday the 2nd and on Tuesday the 5th at a screening of the film “Cruel and Unusual.” If more information about these Brussels events becomes available, we will post it on our twitter and facebook pages.

For all of our A3 supporters in Germany, Amnesty International and the Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland (Initiative Black People in Germany) would like to invite you to two events, both entitled BEING POLITICIZED – Talking about Justice Systems and Racism with Albert Woodfox and Robert King. The events are in the cities of Berlin and Cologne. 

Event information, written in German, is below.

BERLIN: Dienstag 28.11.2017, 19 Uhr (Einlass 18.30 Uhr)

Ort:  STUDIO Я (Maxim Gorki Theater), Hinter dem Gießhaus 2, 10117 Berlin 

Mit:  Albert Woodfox, Robert King, Bafta Sarbo (Vorstandsmitglied der Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland Bund e.V.), Sumit Bhattacharyya (USA-Experte von Amnesty International) 

Moderation:  Karen Taylor (Vorstandsmitglied des European Network Against Racism, ENAR)

Eintritt frei, Anmeldung nicht möglich

Facebook event page.

KÖLN: Mittwoch 29.11.2017, 19.30 Uhr (Einlass 19 Uhr)

Ort:  Bürgerzentrum Alte Feuerwache (Großes Forum), Melchiorstraße 3, 50670 Köln

Mit:  Albert Woodfox, Robert King, Grußwort: Jessica Böhner (Vorstandsmitglied von Amnesty International Deutschland e.V.)

Moderation:  Hadija Haruna-Oelker (Politikwissenschaftlerin und Redakteurin, aktiv in der Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland Bund e.V.)

Eintritt frei, Anmeldung nicht möglich

Ripples Become Waves: Rigo 23’s Leonard Peltier Art Exhibit in Los Angeles on Sunday

Artist, Rigo 23 has actively supported the Angola 3 case and traveled extensively with Robert over the years. As part of his ongoing work on political prisoners, Rigo’s recent project on Leonard Peltier will be exhibited this Sunday, November 19th at The Main in Los Angeles, using a title that A3’s Robert King coined: “Ripples Become Waves.”  

(Photos by Ashlyn Forbes)

Albert Woodfox Appears in Premiere Episode of “The Story of Us With Morgan Freeman”

On October 11, the National Geographic Channel premiered the new TV show entitled “The Story of Us With Morgan Freeman.” With the title and focus of the episode being “The March of Freedom,” Albert was interviewed and his story was spotlighted alongside several other survivors of prison and torture.

You can watch an excerpt from the section of the show focusing on Albert here, but you will need to subscribe to the National Geographic website, or possibly catch it via On Demand on your TV or as a rerun on the Nat Geo channel where it is next being rebroadcast this Sunday, November 19 at 6pm EST.

Albert Woodfox Event With VOTE-Shreveport

(Click on graphic for larger image)

On October 21, Albert Woodfox traveled to North Louisiana for a meeting organized by the Shreveport, Louisiana chapter of VOTE (Voices of the Experienced). An exclusive article written for the A3 Newsletter by Deborah Allen provides background on the important history of VOTE in Louisiana, as well as a report-back from Albert’s visit last month.

Albert was interviewed by KSLA News 12 and a video report published by the Shreveport Sun Newspaper features excerpts from Albert’s talk. You can watch a video of Albert’s full speech here.

(PHOTO: Deborah Allen with Albert on Oct. 21)

Albert Woodfox Visits VOTE-Shreveport

Written by guest author Deborah Allen

Tucked away in the far northern corner of Louisiana is Caddo Parish. It is so far removed from the rest of the state you would think you are in east Texas. The one thing that cannot be denied; for years Caddo Parish has incarcerated more than anywhere else in the state. With Louisiana incarcerating more than anywhere else in the US, and the US more than anywhere in the world, logically Caddo Parish incarcerates more people per capita than anywhere else in the world.

It is evident Caddo Parish has not changed much since the Reconstruction era. A report issued by the Pew Charitable Trusts in 2016, produced in cooperation with the Democratic Governor John Bel Edward, and the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force found that more than half of prisoners recently sentenced were convicted on drug charges. The Pew report also outlined how the top 10 crimes that received sentencing are nonviolent offenses. This explains why even though arrests and sentencing are high, the crime rate keeps going up.

The Task Force’s consensus recommendations would avert the projected growth in the number of prisoners in  Louisiana and move the prison population downward, for an overall reduction in the prison population of 13 percent (4,817 prison beds) by 2027. This decline in the number of prisoners would save Louisiana taxpayers $305 million over the next ten years. Savings in FY2018 alone would exceed $9 million. The recommendations would reinvest over half of the savings – $154 million-into research-based programs that reduce recidivism and services that support victims of crime. (Source)

November 1, 2017 was the release date of nearly 2000 nonviolent inmates in Louisiana. Most of these inmates are being released 60 days earlier that the date that was set for release. Caddo Parish sheriff, Steve Prator wasted no time using fear tactics to scare citizens across north Louisiana. Prator held a press release that went viral across the globe, where he touted the importance of keeping “good” prisoners incarcerated to perform money-saving menial labor. Furthermore, he described state prisoners as a “necessary evil to keep the doors open” at the jail his office runs. Among those are “the ones that you can work, that’s the ones that can pick up trash, the work release programs.”

In Caddo Parish and north Louisiana, the services provided for reentering society do not exist, thereby creating even greater challenges for those reentering these communities to be productive citizens. While the system is broken across the state, in north Louisiana it is even worse.

VOTE (Voice of the Experienced) is a grassroots, membership organization founded and run by Formerly Incarcerated Persons (FIPs) in partnership with allies. VOTE is dedicated to ending the disenfranchisement and discrimination against people with convictions. The mission of VOTE – We believe that FIPs, their loved ones, and their communities can use their experiences and expertise to improve public safety in New Orleans. Through civic education and participation, VOTE increasingly mobilizes a strong group of leaders to transform our city’s criminal justice system. VOTE-NOLA was at the table with Pew, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Louisianans for Prison Alternatives, and the ACLU in formulating the Justice Reinvestment Package. An amazing coming together of allies and a bi-partisan legislation came together to get smart about how the state incarcerates. 

 

(Click on the image above for a larger version)

During this meeting of minds, activists and allies came together and identified the need for VOTE chapters across north Louisiana. Executive director Norris Henderson and field director Robert Goodman Jr. recruited Curtis Davis and Stephanie Rogers-Jones to organize VOTE-Shreveport. In less than 6 months, VOTE-Shreveport is seeing a great response from formerly incarcerated people and their allies. The services provided by the New Orleans VOTE chapter will greatly benefit those in northwest Louisiana. The services provided by VOTE are to help with reentry health care, housing, and leadership development, all of which Shreveport is in dire need of.

Albert Woodfox graciously accepted an invitation to speak at our meeting and share his experiences of 43 years in solitary and his counsel on helping others successfully reenter. It’s a five hour drive from NOLA to Shreveport. Albert left early to make the 1PM meeting and had to race back for an 8PM meeting in NOLA.

He told the audience about his time in solitary confinement, how he gathered strength to carry on day after day. When someone asked him what he focused on during his solitary confinement he stated, “If possibly dying in prison could be an inspiration to someone following me, then I was willing to make that sacrifice. I believe my cause was noble.” 

Albert also credited the lessons his mother taught him as a child. “That was my foundation. I realized that great men and women and sometimes children that I read about were not putting something in me, but were pulling something out of me that my mother had already instilled from me. I believed something so strongly that I was willing to give my life for it. With that belief they had no ability to break me.”

Albert called on those in attendance to get behind the efforts of VOTE Shreveport with so much work to do across the state of Louisiana to make this justice reinvestment work and to keep up the good fight. As he told one young supporter when ask why he is still active after his release.

“Old men like me struggle so that young men like you can know victory. As strong as I am, I cannot do by myself. It doesn’t matter how strong I am, my strength is no greater than your support. As stron
g as I am, I cannot do this by myself. I have to have the strength to take the first blow but beyond that are the people sitting in this room, people of the city of Shreveport, of the state of Louisiana, people in the United States of America, and the world that make the difference.”

–Guest author Deborah Allen, (shown alongside Albert in the above photo from Oct.21) is a long time supporter of the Angola 3. Deborah is a criminal justice activist, author, and executive director of the North Louisiana Civil Rights Coalition who recently established the first civil rights museum in north Louisiana.

Flyer for an upcoming VOTE event in New Orleans:

Join VOTE on December 12, 2017 as we march for the rights of formerly and presently incarcerated women and girls. We will be marching from the First 72+ to City Hall. Email Lead Organizer Dolfinette Martin, dolfinette@vote-nola.org, for more information.

According to The Sentencing Project, there has been a 700% increase in the number of incarcerated women and girls since 1980. These women face greater threat of sexual assault, restricted access to necessary feminine hygiene products, prohibitive health care choices, and inhumane isolation from family and allies. We will be marching to show our support to the women and girls who have experienced, and are experiencing, the injustices of female incarceration firsthand.

BREAKING! Albert Woodfox is Freed TODAY on his 69th Birthday!!

MEDIA COVERAGE:   UK Guardian  II  Washington Post  II  NBC  II  The Advocate (with new photo)  II  Times-Picayune  II  NY Times  II  Video by WBRZ  II  BBC News  II  Irish Times  II  Amnesty Intl UK  II  Toronto Star / AP  II  CNN (with new photo)  II  Los Angeles Times  II  Daily Mail / AFP  II  La Nacion (Argentina)  II  US Congressman Cedric Richmond  II  New Yorker

(PHOTO: Albert Woodfox following his release just moments ago!! Photo from Democracy Now!)

(WATCH Albert walk out the gates a free man!)

Take a deep breath everyone,

Just moments ago, Albert Woodfox, the last remaining member of the Angola 3 still behind bars, was released from prison 43 years and 10 months after he was first put in a 6×9 foot solitary cell for a crime he did not commit. After decades of costly litigation, Louisiana State officials have at last acted in the interest of justice and reached an agreement that brings a long overdue end to this nightmare. Albert has maintained his innocence at every step, and today, on his 69th birthday, he will finally begin a new phase of his life as a free man.

In anticipation of his release this morning, Albert thanked his many supporters and added: “Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges.  I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.”

Over the course of the past four decades, Albert’s conviction was overturned three separate times for a host of constitutional violations including prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate defense, racial discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson, and suppression of exculpatory evidence. On June 8th, 2015, Federal Judge James Brady ordered Albert’s immediate release and barred the State from retrying Albert, an extraordinary ruling that he called “the only just remedy.” A divided panel of the 5th Circuit Court of appeals reversed that order in November with the dissenting Judge arguing that “If ever a case justifiably could be considered to present ‘exceptional circumstances’ barring re-prosecution, this is that case.” That ruling was on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court when news of his release broke.

On behalf of the Angola 3 – Albert Woodfox, Robert King, and in memory of Herman Wallace – we would like to sincerely thank all the organizations, activists, artists, legal experts, and other individuals who have so graciously given their time and talent to the Angola 3’s extraordinary struggle for justice. This victory belongs to all of us and should motivate us to stand up and demand even more fervently that long-term solitary confinement be abolished, and all the innocent and wrongfully incarcerated be freed.

For more information about the Angola 3, visit angola3.org.


STATEMENT FROM ALBERT”S LEGAL TEAM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 19, 2016

Contact: Laura Burstein, laura.burstein@squirepb.com, 202-626-6868 (o); 202-669-3411 (c)

Albert Woodfox, Longest-Serving Solitary Confinement Prisoner, to be Freed from Prison After Four Decades

Statements from Albert Woodfox – One of the ‘Angola 3’ – and Attorneys George Kendall and Katherine Kimpel

February 19, 2016, West Feliciana, LA — Albert Woodfox, who spent more time in solitary confinement than any prisoner in U.S. history, will be released this afternoon from custody after more than four decades in the Louisiana prison system. Mr. Woodfox, who turned 69 today, continues to maintain his innocence for the murder that sent him to solitary confinement for more than four decades. He pled no contest to two lesser crimes before being set free. 

“I want to thank my brother Michel for sticking with me all these years, and Robert King, who wrongly spent nearly 30 years in solitary.  I could not have survived without their courageous support, along with the support of my dear friend Herman Wallace, who passed away in 2013,” said Mr. Woodfox.  “I also wish to thank the many members of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3, Amnesty International, and the Roddick Foundation, all of whom supported me through this long struggle.   Lastly, I thank William Sothern, Rob McDuff and my lawyers at Squire Patton Boggs and Sanford Heisler Kimpel for never giving up.  Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges.  I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.”

The extreme and cruel solitary confinement endured by Mr. Woodfox and his fellow prisoners, Herman Wallace and Robert King, known as the “Angola 3,” drew international condemnation.  The unnecessary and inhumane use of solitary confinement was particularly stark in light of Mr. Woodfox’s exemplary conduct record for decades.  In fact, in the midst of litigation, the Wardens of both institutions where Mr. Woodfox was held in solitary confinement admitted that he had exemplary conduct records.

“Although we are overjoyed that Albert Woodfox is finally free, it is indefensible he was forced to endure decade after decade in harsh solitary confinement conditions, longer than any prisoner in the history of the United States,” stated George Kendall, attorney with Squire Patton Boggs, LLP.  “Albert survived the extreme and cruel punishment of 40 plus years in solitary confinement only because of his extraordinary strength and character.  These inhumane practices must stop. We hope the Louisiana Department of Corrections will reform and greatly limit its use of solitary confinement as have an increasing number of jurisdictions around the country.”

Mr. Woodfox and Mr. King, along with Mr. Wallace, brought a civil lawsuit in 2000, challenging the constitutionality of the State of Louisiana’s use of indefinite solitary confinement.  Mr. Woodfox and Mr. King confirmed that a primary goal of the ongoing litigation is to help bring light to the fact that there is no penological justification for how the State of Louisiana currently uses solitary confinement and to create incentives for reform.  As Mr. Woodfox explained, “I can now direct all my efforts to ending the barbarous use of solitary confinement and will continue my work on that issue here in the free world.” 

Their case, which is pending, is supported by extensive reports from two nationally-recognized corrections experts.  Those most recent experts’ reports, from 2015, are publicly available and include extensive detail about the State system’s failings (http://bit.ly/1PUqjiG; http://bit.ly/1oNAfUv).  As a federal judge wrote, the extreme length of Mr. Wallace’s and Mr. Woodfox’s solitary confinement was “so far beyond the pale that this Court has not found anything even remotely comparable in the annals of American jurisprudence.”  See Wilkerson v. Stalder, No. 00-304 (M.D. La. Feb. 1, 2005) (Doc. No. 105 at 21).

“It is past time for our nation to leave behind its shameful legacy of being one of the only developed countries in the world that still relies so heavily on the outdated and ineffective corrections practice of indefinite solitary confinement,” commented Katherine Kimpel, partner at Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP. “That Albert Woodfox served over four decades in solitary confinement shocks the conscience and is a national embarrassment.  We should take advantage of the growing national consensus regarding corrections reform to ensure that, if our society were to be judged by entering our prisons, we would not be found lacking.”

Attorneys for Mr. Woodfox said he will now be able to receive the medical attention he desperately needs.

If you would like to speak with attorneys for Mr. Woodfox or leading experts on solitary confinement conditions and reform, please contact Laura Burstein or Jamie Moss at Laura.Burstein@Squirepb.com, 202-626-6868 (o), 202-669-3411 (c); or jamie@newspros.com, 201-788-0142.

‘Angola 3’ Case Background

In 1972, Brent Miller, a young, white guard at Angola prison, was killed. At a time when Angola prison was highly racially polarized, investigators eventually honed in on four suspects who were politically active Black Panthers.  Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were two of those men.  No forensic or physical evidence linked Mr. Woodfox or Mr. Wallace to the crime, the fingerprints found at the scene, or the bloody knife found nearby. Several alibi witnesses placed both men in different parts of the prison and away from the scene of the crime at the time of the murder.

Mr. Woodfox was originally convicted in 1973 of the murder solely on the testimony of three inmate witnesses. 

However, as Mr. Woodfox learned decades after his original trial, these inmates were provided attractive incentives by the prison officials for their testimony, including promises of improved housing and a pardon.  State officials also suppressed inconsistent statements by these witnesses.

Eventually, Mr. Woodfox’s 1973 conviction was overturned because of discrimination in the selection of the grand jury that indicted him.  He was retried in 1998.  Despite the fact that two of the State’s three inmate witnesses had died, and despite the fact that they never were adequately cross-examined because of evidence hidden by prison officials, their transcripts from the prior trial were admitted into evidence and Mr. Woodfox was again convicted.

After many years of appeals, his 1998 conviction was set aside in later 2014 and he was recharged in 2015.  His lawyers waged a vigorous campaign to exclude from any new trial the prior testimony of the deceased witnesses who never were adequately cross-examined.  However, both the trial judge and the First Circuit Court of Appeal in Louisiana denied those motions, meaning that the prior statements would again be used against Mr. Woodfox at a new trial. 

Although Mr. Woodfox and his legal team remained optimistic about the possibility for an acquittal at a new trial, concerns about Mr. Woodfox’s health mounted as he approached his 69th birthday. Mr. Woodfox decided to bring the case to a conclusion with today’s action. His plea of “nolo contendere” or “no contest” to two lesser charges is not an admission of guilt. It means simply that he does not contest that the State would present evidence at a new trial from witnesses who said he committed this crime. Mr. Woodfox continues, as he always has, to maintain his innocence. 

 ###

BREAKING! Albert Woodfox is Freed TODAY on his 69th Birthday!!

MEDIA COVERAGE:   UK Guardian  II  Washington Post  II  NBC  II  The Advocate (with new photo)  II  Times-Picayune  II  NY Times  II  Video by WBRZ  II  BBC News  II  Irish Times  II  Amnesty Intl UK  II  Toronto Star / AP  II  CNN (with new photo)  II  Los Angeles Times  II  Daily Mail / AFP  II  La Nacion (Argentina)  II  US Congressman Cedric Richmond  II  New Yorker

(PHOTO: Albert Woodfox following his release just moments ago!! Photo from Democracy Now!)

(WATCH Albert walk out the gates a free man!)

Take a deep breath everyone,

Just moments ago, Albert Woodfox, the last remaining member of the Angola 3 still behind bars, was released from prison 43 years and 10 months after he was first put in a 6×9 foot solitary cell for a crime he did not commit. After decades of costly litigation, Louisiana State officials have at last acted in the interest of justice and reached an agreement that brings a long overdue end to this nightmare. Albert has maintained his innocence at every step, and today, on his 69th birthday, he will finally begin a new phase of his life as a free man.

In anticipation of his release this morning, Albert thanked his many supporters and added: “Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges.  I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.”

Over the course of the past four decades, Albert’s conviction was overturned three separate times for a host of constitutional violations including prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate defense, racial discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson, and suppression of exculpatory evidence. On June 8th, 2015, Federal Judge James Brady ordered Albert’s immediate release and barred the State from retrying Albert, an extraordinary ruling that he called “the only just remedy.” A divided panel of the 5th Circuit Court of appeals reversed that order in November with the dissenting Judge arguing that “If ever a case justifiably could be considered to present ‘exceptional circumstances’ barring re-prosecution, this is that case.” That ruling was on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court when news of his release broke.

On behalf of the Angola 3 – Albert Woodfox, Robert King, and in memory of Herman Wallace – we would like to sincerely thank all the organizations, activists, artists, legal experts, and other individuals who have so graciously given their time and talent to the Angola 3’s extraordinary struggle for justice. This victory belongs to all of us and should motivate us to stand up and demand even more fervently that long-term solitary confinement be abolished, and all the innocent and wrongfully incarcerated be freed.

For more information about the Angola 3, visit angola3.org.


STATEMENT FROM ALBERT”S LEGAL TEAM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 19, 2016

Contact: Laura Burstein, laura.burstein@squirepb.com, 202-626-6868 (o); 202-669-3411 (c)

Albert Woodfox, Longest-Serving Solitary Confinement Prisoner, to be Freed from Prison After Four Decades

Statements from Albert Woodfox – One of the ‘Angola 3’ – and Attorneys George Kendall and Katherine Kimpel

February 19, 2016, West Feliciana, LA — Albert Woodfox, who spent more time in solitary confinement than any prisoner in U.S. history, will be released this afternoon from custody after more than four decades in the Louisiana prison system. Mr. Woodfox, who turned 69 today, continues to maintain his innocence for the murder that sent him to solitary confinement for more than four decades. He pled no contest to two lesser crimes before being set free. 

“I want to thank my brother Michel for sticking with me all these years, and Robert King, who wrongly spent nearly 30 years in solitary.  I could not have survived without their courageous support, along with the support of my dear friend Herman Wallace, who passed away in 2013,” said Mr. Woodfox.  “I also wish to thank the many members of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3, Amnesty International, and the Roddick Foundation, all of whom supported me through this long struggle.   Lastly, I thank William Sothern, Rob McDuff and my lawyers at Squire Patton Boggs and Sanford Heisler Kimpel for never giving up.  Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges.  I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.”

The extreme and cruel solitary confinement endured by Mr. Woodfox and his fellow prisoners, Herman Wallace and Robert King, known as the “Angola 3,” drew international condemnation.  The unnecessary and inhumane use of solitary confinement was particularly stark in light of Mr. Woodfox’s exemplary conduct record for decades.  In fact, in the midst of litigation, the Wardens of both institutions where Mr. Woodfox was held in solitary confinement admitted that he had exemplary conduct records.

“Although we are overjoyed that Albert Woodfox is finally free, it is indefensible he was forced to endure decade after decade in harsh solitary confinement conditions, longer than any prisoner in the history of the United States,” stated George Kendall, attorney with Squire Patton Boggs, LLP.  “Albert survived the extreme and cruel punishment of 40 plus years in solitary confinement only because of his extraordinary strength and character.  These inhumane practices must stop. We hope the Louisiana Department of Corrections will reform and greatly limit its use of solitary confinement as have an increasing number of jurisdictions around the country.”

Mr. Woodfox and Mr. King, along with Mr. Wallace, brought a civil lawsuit in 2000, challenging the constitutionality of the State of Louisiana’s use of indefinite solitary confinement.  Mr. Woodfox and Mr. King confirmed that a primary goal of the ongoing litigation is to help bring light to the fact that there is no penological justification for how the State of Louisiana currently uses solitary confinement and to create incentives for reform.  As Mr. Woodfox explained, “I can now direct all my efforts to ending the barbarous use of solitary confinement and will continue my work on that issue here in the free world.” 

Their case, which is pending, is supported by extensive reports from two nationally-recognized corrections experts.  Those most recent experts’ reports, from 2015, are publicly available and include extensive detail about the State system’s failings (http://bit.ly/1PUqjiG; http://bit.ly/1oNAfUv).  As a federal judge wrote, the extreme length of Mr. Wallace’s and Mr. Woodfox’s solitary confinement was “so far beyond the pale that this Court has not found anything even remotely comparable in the annals of American jurisprudence.”  See Wilkerson v. Stalder, No. 00-304 (M.D. La. Feb. 1, 2005) (Doc. No. 105 at 21).

“It is past time for our nation to leave behind its shameful legacy of being one of the only developed countries in the world that still relies so heavily on the outdated and ineffective corrections practice of indefinite solitary confinement,” commented Katherine Kimpel, partner at Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP. “That Albert Woodfox served over four decades in solitary confinement shocks the conscience and is a national embarrassment.  We should take advantage of the growing national consensus regarding corrections reform to ensure that, if our society were to be judged by entering our prisons, we would not be found lacking.”

Attorneys for Mr. Woodfox said he will now be able to receive the medical attention he desperately needs.

If you would like to speak with attorneys for Mr. Woodfox or leading experts on solitary confinement conditions and reform, please contact Laura Burstein or Jamie Moss at Laura.Burstein@Squirepb.com, 202-626-6868 (o), 202-669-3411 (c); or jamie@newspros.com, 201-788-0142.

‘Angola 3’ Case Background

In 1972, Brent Miller, a young, white guard at Angola prison, was killed. At a time when Angola prison was highly racially polarized, investigators eventually honed in on four suspects who were politically active Black Panthers.  Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were two of those men.  No forensic or physical evidence linked Mr. Woodfox or Mr. Wallace to the crime, the fingerprints found at the scene, or the bloody knife found nearby. Several alibi witnesses placed both men in different parts of the prison and away from the scene of the crime at the time of the murder.

Mr. Woodfox was originally convicted in 1973 of the murder solely on the testimony of three inmate witnesses. 

However, as Mr. Woodfox learned decades after his original trial, these inmates were provided attractive incentives by the prison officials for their testimony, including promises of improved housing and a pardon.  State officials also suppressed inconsistent statements by these witnesses.

Eventually, Mr. Woodfox’s 1973 conviction was overturned because of discrimination in the selection of the grand jury that indicted him.  He was retried in 1998.  Despite the fact that two of the State’s three inmate witnesses had died, and despite the fact that they never were adequately cross-examined because of evidence hidden by prison officials, their transcripts from the prior trial were admitted into evidence and Mr. Woodfox was again convicted.

After many years of appeals, his 1998 conviction was set aside in later 2014 and he was recharged in 2015.  His lawyers waged a vigorous campaign to exclude from any new trial the prior testimony of the deceased witnesses who never were adequately cross-examined.  However, both the trial judge and the First Circuit Court of Appeal in Louisiana denied those motions, meaning that the prior statements would again be used against Mr. Woodfox at a new trial. 

Although Mr. Woodfox and his legal team remained optimistic about the possibility for an acquittal at a new trial, concerns about Mr. Woodfox’s health mounted as he approached his 69th birthday. Mr. Woodfox decided to bring the case to a conclusion with today’s action. His plea of “nolo contendere” or “no contest” to two lesser charges is not an admission of guilt. It means simply that he does not contest that the State would present evidence at a new trial from witnesses who said he committed this crime. Mr. Woodfox continues, as he always has, to maintain his innocence. 

 ###

BREAKING! Albert Woodfox is Freed TODAY on his 69th Birthday!!

MEDIA COVERAGE:   UK Guardian  II  Washington Post  II  NBC  II  The Advocate (with new photo)  II  Times-Picayune  II  NY Times  II  Video by WBRZ  II  BBC News  II  Irish Times  II  Amnesty Intl UK  II  Toronto Star / AP  II  CNN (with new photo)  II  Los Angeles Times  II  Daily Mail / AFP  II  La Nacion (Argentina)  II  US Congressman Cedric Richmond  II  New Yorker

(PHOTO: Albert Woodfox following his release just moments ago!! Photo from Democracy Now!)

(WATCH Albert walk out the gates a free man!)

Take a deep breath everyone,

Just moments ago, Albert Woodfox, the last remaining member of the Angola 3 still behind bars, was released from prison 43 years and 10 months after he was first put in a 6×9 foot solitary cell for a crime he did not commit. After decades of costly litigation, Louisiana State officials have at last acted in the interest of justice and reached an agreement that brings a long overdue end to this nightmare. Albert has maintained his innocence at every step, and today, on his 69th birthday, he will finally begin a new phase of his life as a free man.

In anticipation of his release this morning, Albert thanked his many supporters and added: “Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges.  I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.”

Over the course of the past four decades, Albert’s conviction was overturned three separate times for a host of constitutional violations including prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate defense, racial discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson, and suppression of exculpatory evidence. On June 8th, 2015, Federal Judge James Brady ordered Albert’s immediate release and barred the State from retrying Albert, an extraordinary ruling that he called “the only just remedy.” A divided panel of the 5th Circuit Court of appeals reversed that order in November with the dissenting Judge arguing that “If ever a case justifiably could be considered to present ‘exceptional circumstances’ barring re-prosecution, this is that case.” That ruling was on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court when news of his release broke.

On behalf of the Angola 3 – Albert Woodfox, Robert King, and in memory of Herman Wallace – we would like to sincerely thank all the organizations, activists, artists, legal experts, and other individuals who have so graciously given their time and talent to the Angola 3’s extraordinary struggle for justice. This victory belongs to all of us and should motivate us to stand up and demand even more fervently that long-term solitary confinement be abolished, and all the innocent and wrongfully incarcerated be freed.

For more information about the Angola 3, visit angola3.org.


STATEMENT FROM ALBERT”S LEGAL TEAM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 19, 2016

Contact: Laura Burstein, laura.burstein@squirepb.com, 202-626-6868 (o); 202-669-3411 (c)

Albert Woodfox, Longest-Serving Solitary Confinement Prisoner, to be Freed from Prison After Four Decades

Statements from Albert Woodfox – One of the ‘Angola 3’ – and Attorneys George Kendall and Katherine Kimpel

February 19, 2016, West Feliciana, LA — Albert Woodfox, who spent more time in solitary confinement than any prisoner in U.S. history, will be released this afternoon from custody after more than four decades in the Louisiana prison system. Mr. Woodfox, who turned 69 today, continues to maintain his innocence for the murder that sent him to solitary confinement for more than four decades. He pled no contest to two lesser crimes before being set free. 

“I want to thank my brother Michel for sticking with me all these years, and Robert King, who wrongly spent nearly 30 years in solitary.  I could not have survived without their courageous support, along with the support of my dear friend Herman Wallace, who passed away in 2013,” said Mr. Woodfox.  “I also wish to thank the many members of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3, Amnesty International, and the Roddick Foundation, all of whom supported me through this long struggle.   Lastly, I thank William Sothern, Rob McDuff and my lawyers at Squire Patton Boggs and Sanford Heisler Kimpel for never giving up.  Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges.  I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.”

The extreme and cruel solitary confinement endured by Mr. Woodfox and his fellow prisoners, Herman Wallace and Robert King, known as the “Angola 3,” drew international condemnation.  The unnecessary and inhumane use of solitary confinement was particularly stark in light of Mr. Woodfox’s exemplary conduct record for decades.  In fact, in the midst of litigation, the Wardens of both institutions where Mr. Woodfox was held in solitary confinement admitted that he had exemplary conduct records.

“Although we are overjoyed that Albert Woodfox is finally free, it is indefensible he was forced to endure decade after decade in harsh solitary confinement conditions, longer than any prisoner in the history of the United States,” stated George Kendall, attorney with Squire Patton Boggs, LLP.  “Albert survived the extreme and cruel punishment of 40 plus years in solitary confinement only because of his extraordinary strength and character.  These inhumane practices must stop. We hope the Louisiana Department of Corrections will reform and greatly limit its use of solitary confinement as have an increasing number of jurisdictions around the country.”

Mr. Woodfox and Mr. King, along with Mr. Wallace, brought a civil lawsuit in 2000, challenging the constitutionality of the State of Louisiana’s use of indefinite solitary confinement.  Mr. Woodfox and Mr. King confirmed that a primary goal of the ongoing litigation is to help bring light to the fact that there is no penological justification for how the State of Louisiana currently uses solitary confinement and to create incentives for reform.  As Mr. Woodfox explained, “I can now direct all my efforts to ending the barbarous use of solitary confinement and will continue my work on that issue here in the free world.” 

Their case, which is pending, is supported by extensive reports from two nationally-recognized corrections experts.  Those most recent experts’ reports, from 2015, are publicly available and include extensive detail about the State system’s failings (http://bit.ly/1PUqjiG; http://bit.ly/1oNAfUv).  As a federal judge wrote, the extreme length of Mr. Wallace’s and Mr. Woodfox’s solitary confinement was “so far beyond the pale that this Court has not found anything even remotely comparable in the annals of American jurisprudence.”  See Wilkerson v. Stalder, No. 00-304 (M.D. La. Feb. 1, 2005) (Doc. No. 105 at 21).

“It is past time for our nation to leave behind its shameful legacy of being one of the only developed countries in the world that still relies so heavily on the outdated and ineffective corrections practice of indefinite solitary confinement,” commented Katherine Kimpel, partner at Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP. “That Albert Woodfox served over four decades in solitary confinement shocks the conscience and is a national embarrassment.  We should take advantage of the growing national consensus regarding corrections reform to ensure that, if our society were to be judged by entering our prisons, we would not be found lacking.”

Attorneys for Mr. Woodfox said he will now be able to receive the medical attention he desperately needs.

If you would like to speak with attorneys for Mr. Woodfox or leading experts on solitary confinement conditions and reform, please contact Laura Burstein or Jamie Moss at Laura.Burstein@Squirepb.com, 202-626-6868 (o), 202-669-3411 (c); or jamie@newspros.com, 201-788-0142.

‘Angola 3’ Case Background

In 1972, Brent Miller, a young, white guard at Angola prison, was killed. At a time when Angola prison was highly racially polarized, investigators eventually honed in on four suspects who were politically active Black Panthers.  Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were two of those men.  No forensic or physical evidence linked Mr. Woodfox or Mr. Wallace to the crime, the fingerprints found at the scene, or the bloody knife found nearby. Several alibi witnesses placed both men in different parts of the prison and away from the scene of the crime at the time of the murder.

Mr. Woodfox was originally convicted in 1973 of the murder solely on the testimony of three inmate witnesses. 

However, as Mr. Woodfox learned decades after his original trial, these inmates were provided attractive incentives by the prison officials for their testimony, including promises of improved housing and a pardon.  State officials also suppressed inconsistent statements by these witnesses.

Eventually, Mr. Woodfox’s 1973 conviction was overturned because of discrimination in the selection of the grand jury that indicted him.  He was retried in 1998.  Despite the fact that two of the State’s three inmate witnesses had died, and despite the fact that they never were adequately cross-examined because of evidence hidden by prison officials, their transcripts from the prior trial were admitted into evidence and Mr. Woodfox was again convicted.

After many years of appeals, his 1998 conviction was set aside in later 2014 and he was recharged in 2015.  His lawyers waged a vigorous campaign to exclude from any new trial the prior testimony of the deceased witnesses who never were adequately cross-examined.  However, both the trial judge and the First Circuit Court of Appeal in Louisiana denied those motions, meaning that the prior statements would again be used against Mr. Woodfox at a new trial. 

Although Mr. Woodfox and his legal team remained optimistic about the possibility for an acquittal at a new trial, concerns about Mr. Woodfox’s health mounted as he approached his 69th birthday. Mr. Woodfox decided to bring the case to a conclusion with today’s action. His plea of “nolo contendere” or “no contest” to two lesser charges is not an admission of guilt. It means simply that he does not contest that the State would present evidence at a new trial from witnesses who said he committed this crime. Mr. Woodfox continues, as he always has, to maintain his innocence. 

 ###

BREAKING! Albert Woodfox is Freed TODAY on his 69th Birthday!!

MEDIA COVERAGE:   UK Guardian  II  Washington Post  II  NBC  II  The Advocate (with new photo)  II  Times-Picayune  II  NY Times  II  Video by WBRZ  II  BBC News  II  Irish Times  II  Amnesty Intl UK  II  Toronto Star / AP  II  CNN (with new photo)  II  Los Angeles Times  II  Daily Mail / AFP  II  La Nacion (Argentina)  II  US Congressman Cedric Richmond  II  New Yorker

(PHOTO: Albert Woodfox following his release just moments ago!! Photo from Democracy Now!)

(WATCH Albert walk out the gates a free man!)

Take a deep breath everyone,

Just moments ago, Albert Woodfox, the last remaining member of the Angola 3 still behind bars, was released from prison 43 years and 10 months after he was first put in a 6×9 foot solitary cell for a crime he did not commit. After decades of costly litigation, Louisiana State officials have at last acted in the interest of justice and reached an agreement that brings a long overdue end to this nightmare. Albert has maintained his innocence at every step, and today, on his 69th birthday, he will finally begin a new phase of his life as a free man.

In anticipation of his release this morning, Albert thanked his many supporters and added: “Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges.  I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.”

Over the course of the past four decades, Albert’s conviction was overturned three separate times for a host of constitutional violations including prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate defense, racial discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson, and suppression of exculpatory evidence. On June 8th, 2015, Federal Judge James Brady ordered Albert’s immediate release and barred the State from retrying Albert, an extraordinary ruling that he called “the only just remedy.” A divided panel of the 5th Circuit Court of appeals reversed that order in November with the dissenting Judge arguing that “If ever a case justifiably could be considered to present ‘exceptional circumstances’ barring re-prosecution, this is that case.” That ruling was on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court when news of his release broke.

On behalf of the Angola 3 – Albert Woodfox, Robert King, and in memory of Herman Wallace – we would like to sincerely thank all the organizations, activists, artists, legal experts, and other individuals who have so graciously given their time and talent to the Angola 3’s extraordinary struggle for justice. This victory belongs to all of us and should motivate us to stand up and demand even more fervently that long-term solitary confinement be abolished, and all the innocent and wrongfully incarcerated be freed.

For more information about the Angola 3, visit angola3.org.


STATEMENT FROM ALBERT”S LEGAL TEAM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 19, 2016

Contact: Laura Burstein, laura.burstein@squirepb.com, 202-626-6868 (o); 202-669-3411 (c)

Albert Woodfox, Longest-Serving Solitary Confinement Prisoner, to be Freed from Prison After Four Decades

Statements from Albert Woodfox – One of the ‘Angola 3’ – and Attorneys George Kendall and Katherine Kimpel

February 19, 2016, West Feliciana, LA — Albert Woodfox, who spent more time in solitary confinement than any prisoner in U.S. history, will be released this afternoon from custody after more than four decades in the Louisiana prison system. Mr. Woodfox, who turned 69 today, continues to maintain his innocence for the murder that sent him to solitary confinement for more than four decades. He pled no contest to two lesser crimes before being set free. 

“I want to thank my brother Michel for sticking with me all these years, and Robert King, who wrongly spent nearly 30 years in solitary.  I could not have survived without their courageous support, along with the support of my dear friend Herman Wallace, who passed away in 2013,” said Mr. Woodfox.  “I also wish to thank the many members of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3, Amnesty International, and the Roddick Foundation, all of whom supported me through this long struggle.   Lastly, I thank William Sothern, Rob McDuff and my lawyers at Squire Patton Boggs and Sanford Heisler Kimpel for never giving up.  Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges.  I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.”

The extreme and cruel solitary confinement endured by Mr. Woodfox and his fellow prisoners, Herman Wallace and Robert King, known as the “Angola 3,” drew international condemnation.  The unnecessary and inhumane use of solitary confinement was particularly stark in light of Mr. Woodfox’s exemplary conduct record for decades.  In fact, in the midst of litigation, the Wardens of both institutions where Mr. Woodfox was held in solitary confinement admitted that he had exemplary conduct records.

“Although we are overjoyed that Albert Woodfox is finally free, it is indefensible he was forced to endure decade after decade in harsh solitary confinement conditions, longer than any prisoner in the history of the United States,” stated George Kendall, attorney with Squire Patton Boggs, LLP.  “Albert survived the extreme and cruel punishment of 40 plus years in solitary confinement only because of his extraordinary strength and character.  These inhumane practices must stop. We hope the Louisiana Department of Corrections will reform and greatly limit its use of solitary confinement as have an increasing number of jurisdictions around the country.”

Mr. Woodfox and Mr. King, along with Mr. Wallace, brought a civil lawsuit in 2000, challenging the constitutionality of the State of Louisiana’s use of indefinite solitary confinement.  Mr. Woodfox and Mr. King confirmed that a primary goal of the ongoing litigation is to help bring light to the fact that there is no penological justification for how the State of Louisiana currently uses solitary confinement and to create incentives for reform.  As Mr. Woodfox explained, “I can now direct all my efforts to ending the barbarous use of solitary confinement and will continue my work on that issue here in the free world.” 

Their case, which is pending, is supported by extensive reports from two nationally-recognized corrections experts.  Those most recent experts’ reports, from 2015, are publicly available and include extensive detail about the State system’s failings (http://bit.ly/1PUqjiG; http://bit.ly/1oNAfUv).  As a federal judge wrote, the extreme length of Mr. Wallace’s and Mr. Woodfox’s solitary confinement was “so far beyond the pale that this Court has not found anything even remotely comparable in the annals of American jurisprudence.”  See Wilkerson v. Stalder, No. 00-304 (M.D. La. Feb. 1, 2005) (Doc. No. 105 at 21).

“It is past time for our nation to leave behind its shameful legacy of being one of the only developed countries in the world that still relies so heavily on the outdated and ineffective corrections practice of indefinite solitary confinement,” commented Katherine Kimpel, partner at Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP. “That Albert Woodfox served over four decades in solitary confinement shocks the conscience and is a national embarrassment.  We should take advantage of the growing national consensus regarding corrections reform to ensure that, if our society were to be judged by entering our prisons, we would not be found lacking.”

Attorneys for Mr. Woodfox said he will now be able to receive the medical attention he desperately needs.

If you would like to speak with attorneys for Mr. Woodfox or leading experts on solitary confinement conditions and reform, please contact Laura Burstein or Jamie Moss at Laura.Burstein@Squirepb.com, 202-626-6868 (o), 202-669-3411 (c); or jamie@newspros.com, 201-788-0142.

‘Angola 3’ Case Background

In 1972, Brent Miller, a young, white guard at Angola prison, was killed. At a time when Angola prison was highly racially polarized, investigators eventually honed in on four suspects who were politically active Black Panthers.  Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were two of those men.  No forensic or physical evidence linked Mr. Woodfox or Mr. Wallace to the crime, the fingerprints found at the scene, or the bloody knife found nearby. Several alibi witnesses placed both men in different parts of the prison and away from the scene of the crime at the time of the murder.

Mr. Woodfox was originally convicted in 1973 of the murder solely on the testimony of three inmate witnesses. 

However, as Mr. Woodfox learned decades after his original trial, these inmates were provided attractive incentives by the prison officials for their testimony, including promises of improved housing and a pardon.  State officials also suppressed inconsistent statements by these witnesses.

Eventually, Mr. Woodfox’s 1973 conviction was overturned because of discrimination in the selection of the grand jury that indicted him.  He was retried in 1998.  Despite the fact that two of the State’s three inmate witnesses had died, and despite the fact that they never were adequately cross-examined because of evidence hidden by prison officials, their transcripts from the prior trial were admitted into evidence and Mr. Woodfox was again convicted.

After many years of appeals, his 1998 conviction was set aside in later 2014 and he was recharged in 2015.  His lawyers waged a vigorous campaign to exclude from any new trial the prior testimony of the deceased witnesses who never were adequately cross-examined.  However, both the trial judge and the First Circuit Court of Appeal in Louisiana denied those motions, meaning that the prior statements would again be used against Mr. Woodfox at a new trial. 

Although Mr. Woodfox and his legal team remained optimistic about the possibility for an acquittal at a new trial, concerns about Mr. Woodfox’s health mounted as he approached his 69th birthday. Mr. Woodfox decided to bring the case to a conclusion with today’s action. His plea of “nolo contendere” or “no contest” to two lesser charges is not an admission of guilt. It means simply that he does not contest that the State would present evidence at a new trial from witnesses who said he committed this crime. Mr. Woodfox continues, as he always has, to maintain his innocence. 

 ###

BREAKING! Albert Woodfox is Freed TODAY on his 69th Birthday!!

MEDIA COVERAGE:   UK Guardian  II  Washington Post  II  NBC  II  The Advocate (with new photo)  II  Times-Picayune  II  NY Times  II  Video by WBRZ  II  BBC News  II  Irish Times  II  Amnesty Intl UK  II  Toronto Star / AP  II  CNN (with new photo)  II  Los Angeles Times  II  Daily Mail / AFP  II  La Nacion (Argentina)  II  US Congressman Cedric Richmond  II  New Yorker

(PHOTO: Albert Woodfox following his release just moments ago!! Photo from Democracy Now!)

(WATCH Albert walk out the gates a free man!)

Take a deep breath everyone,

Just moments ago, Albert Woodfox, the last remaining member of the Angola 3 still behind bars, was released from prison 43 years and 10 months after he was first put in a 6×9 foot solitary cell for a crime he did not commit. After decades of costly litigation, Louisiana State officials have at last acted in the interest of justice and reached an agreement that brings a long overdue end to this nightmare. Albert has maintained his innocence at every step, and today, on his 69th birthday, he will finally begin a new phase of his life as a free man.

In anticipation of his release this morning, Albert thanked his many supporters and added: “Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges.  I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.”

Over the course of the past four decades, Albert’s conviction was overturned three separate times for a host of constitutional violations including prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate defense, racial discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson, and suppression of exculpatory evidence. On June 8th, 2015, Federal Judge James Brady ordered Albert’s immediate release and barred the State from retrying Albert, an extraordinary ruling that he called “the only just remedy.” A divided panel of the 5th Circuit Court of appeals reversed that order in November with the dissenting Judge arguing that “If ever a case justifiably could be considered to present ‘exceptional circumstances’ barring re-prosecution, this is that case.” That ruling was on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court when news of his release broke.

On behalf of the Angola 3 – Albert Woodfox, Robert King, and in memory of Herman Wallace – we would like to sincerely thank all the organizations, activists, artists, legal experts, and other individuals who have so graciously given their time and talent to the Angola 3’s extraordinary struggle for justice. This victory belongs to all of us and should motivate us to stand up and demand even more fervently that long-term solitary confinement be abolished, and all the innocent and wrongfully incarcerated be freed.

For more information about the Angola 3, visit angola3.org.


STATEMENT FROM ALBERT”S LEGAL TEAM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 19, 2016

Contact: Laura Burstein, laura.burstein@squirepb.com, 202-626-6868 (o); 202-669-3411 (c)

Albert Woodfox, Longest-Serving Solitary Confinement Prisoner, to be Freed from Prison After Four Decades

Statements from Albert Woodfox – One of the ‘Angola 3’ – and Attorneys George Kendall and Katherine Kimpel

February 19, 2016, West Feliciana, LA — Albert Woodfox, who spent more time in solitary confinement than any prisoner in U.S. history, will be released this afternoon from custody after more than four decades in the Louisiana prison system. Mr. Woodfox, who turned 69 today, continues to maintain his innocence for the murder that sent him to solitary confinement for more than four decades. He pled no contest to two lesser crimes before being set free. 

“I want to thank my brother Michel for sticking with me all these years, and Robert King, who wrongly spent nearly 30 years in solitary.  I could not have survived without their courageous support, along with the support of my dear friend Herman Wallace, who passed away in 2013,” said Mr. Woodfox.  “I also wish to thank the many members of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3, Amnesty International, and the Roddick Foundation, all of whom supported me through this long struggle.   Lastly, I thank William Sothern, Rob McDuff and my lawyers at Squire Patton Boggs and Sanford Heisler Kimpel for never giving up.  Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges.  I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.”

The extreme and cruel solitary confinement endured by Mr. Woodfox and his fellow prisoners, Herman Wallace and Robert King, known as the “Angola 3,” drew international condemnation.  The unnecessary and inhumane use of solitary confinement was particularly stark in light of Mr. Woodfox’s exemplary conduct record for decades.  In fact, in the midst of litigation, the Wardens of both institutions where Mr. Woodfox was held in solitary confinement admitted that he had exemplary conduct records.

“Although we are overjoyed that Albert Woodfox is finally free, it is indefensible he was forced to endure decade after decade in harsh solitary confinement conditions, longer than any prisoner in the history of the United States,” stated George Kendall, attorney with Squire Patton Boggs, LLP.  “Albert survived the extreme and cruel punishment of 40 plus years in solitary confinement only because of his extraordinary strength and character.  These inhumane practices must stop. We hope the Louisiana Department of Corrections will reform and greatly limit its use of solitary confinement as have an increasing number of jurisdictions around the country.”

Mr. Woodfox and Mr. King, along with Mr. Wallace, brought a civil lawsuit in 2000, challenging the constitutionality of the State of Louisiana’s use of indefinite solitary confinement.  Mr. Woodfox and Mr. King confirmed that a primary goal of the ongoing litigation is to help bring light to the fact that there is no penological justification for how the State of Louisiana currently uses solitary confinement and to create incentives for reform.  As Mr. Woodfox explained, “I can now direct all my efforts to ending the barbarous use of solitary confinement and will continue my work on that issue here in the free world.” 

Their case, which is pending, is supported by extensive reports from two nationally-recognized corrections experts.  Those most recent experts’ reports, from 2015, are publicly available and include extensive detail about the State system’s failings (http://bit.ly/1PUqjiG; http://bit.ly/1oNAfUv).  As a federal judge wrote, the extreme length of Mr. Wallace’s and Mr. Woodfox’s solitary confinement was “so far beyond the pale that this Court has not found anything even remotely comparable in the annals of American jurisprudence.”  See Wilkerson v. Stalder, No. 00-304 (M.D. La. Feb. 1, 2005) (Doc. No. 105 at 21).

“It is past time for our nation to leave behind its shameful legacy of being one of the only developed countries in the world that still relies so heavily on the outdated and ineffective corrections practice of indefinite solitary confinement,” commented Katherine Kimpel, partner at Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP. “That Albert Woodfox served over four decades in solitary confinement shocks the conscience and is a national embarrassment.  We should take advantage of the growing national consensus regarding corrections reform to ensure that, if our society were to be judged by entering our prisons, we would not be found lacking.”

Attorneys for Mr. Woodfox said he will now be able to receive the medical attention he desperately needs.

If you would like to speak with attorneys for Mr. Woodfox or leading experts on solitary confinement conditions and reform, please contact Laura Burstein or Jamie Moss at Laura.Burstein@Squirepb.com, 202-626-6868 (o), 202-669-3411 (c); or jamie@newspros.com, 201-788-0142.

‘Angola 3’ Case Background

In 1972, Brent Miller, a young, white guard at Angola prison, was killed. At a time when Angola prison was highly racially polarized, investigators eventually honed in on four suspects who were politically active Black Panthers.  Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were two of those men.  No forensic or physical evidence linked Mr. Woodfox or Mr. Wallace to the crime, the fingerprints found at the scene, or the bloody knife found nearby. Several alibi witnesses placed both men in different parts of the prison and away from the scene of the crime at the time of the murder.

Mr. Woodfox was originally convicted in 1973 of the murder solely on the testimony of three inmate witnesses. 

However, as Mr. Woodfox learned decades after his original trial, these inmates were provided attractive incentives by the prison officials for their testimony, including promises of improved housing and a pardon.  State officials also suppressed inconsistent statements by these witnesses.

Eventually, Mr. Woodfox’s 1973 conviction was overturned because of discrimination in the selection of the grand jury that indicted him.  He was retried in 1998.  Despite the fact that two of the State’s three inmate witnesses had died, and despite the fact that they never were adequately cross-examined because of evidence hidden by prison officials, their transcripts from the prior trial were admitted into evidence and Mr. Woodfox was again convicted.

After many years of appeals, his 1998 conviction was set aside in later 2014 and he was recharged in 2015.  His lawyers waged a vigorous campaign to exclude from any new trial the prior testimony of the deceased witnesses who never were adequately cross-examined.  However, both the trial judge and the First Circuit Court of Appeal in Louisiana denied those motions, meaning that the prior statements would again be used against Mr. Woodfox at a new trial. 

Although Mr. Woodfox and his legal team remained optimistic about the possibility for an acquittal at a new trial, concerns about Mr. Woodfox’s health mounted as he approached his 69th birthday. Mr. Woodfox decided to bring the case to a conclusion with today’s action. His plea of “nolo contendere” or “no contest” to two lesser charges is not an admission of guilt. It means simply that he does not contest that the State would present evidence at a new trial from witnesses who said he committed this crime. Mr. Woodfox continues, as he always has, to maintain his innocence. 

 ###

BREAKING! Albert Woodfox is Freed TODAY on his 69th Birthday!!

MEDIA COVERAGE:   UK Guardian  II  Washington Post  II  NBC  II  The Advocate (with new photo)  II  Times-Picayune  II  NY Times  II  Video by WBRZ  II  BBC News  II  Irish Times  II  Amnesty Intl UK  II  Toronto Star / AP  II  CNN (with new photo)  II  Los Angeles Times  II  Daily Mail / AFP  II  La Nacion (Argentina)  II  US Congressman Cedric Richmond  II  New Yorker

(PHOTO: Albert Woodfox following his release just moments ago!! Photo from Democracy Now!)

(WATCH Albert walk out the gates a free man!)

Take a deep breath everyone,

Just moments ago, Albert Woodfox, the last remaining member of the Angola 3 still behind bars, was released from prison 43 years and 10 months after he was first put in a 6×9 foot solitary cell for a crime he did not commit. After decades of costly litigation, Louisiana State officials have at last acted in the interest of justice and reached an agreement that brings a long overdue end to this nightmare. Albert has maintained his innocence at every step, and today, on his 69th birthday, he will finally begin a new phase of his life as a free man.

In anticipation of his release this morning, Albert thanked his many supporters and added: “Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges.  I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.”

Over the course of the past four decades, Albert’s conviction was overturned three separate times for a host of constitutional violations including prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate defense, racial discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson, and suppression of exculpatory evidence. On June 8th, 2015, Federal Judge James Brady ordered Albert’s immediate release and barred the State from retrying Albert, an extraordinary ruling that he called “the only just remedy.” A divided panel of the 5th Circuit Court of appeals reversed that order in November with the dissenting Judge arguing that “If ever a case justifiably could be considered to present ‘exceptional circumstances’ barring re-prosecution, this is that case.” That ruling was on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court when news of his release broke.

On behalf of the Angola 3 – Albert Woodfox, Robert King, and in memory of Herman Wallace – we would like to sincerely thank all the organizations, activists, artists, legal experts, and other individuals who have so graciously given their time and talent to the Angola 3’s extraordinary struggle for justice. This victory belongs to all of us and should motivate us to stand up and demand even more fervently that long-term solitary confinement be abolished, and all the innocent and wrongfully incarcerated be freed.

For more information about the Angola 3, visit angola3.org.


STATEMENT FROM ALBERT”S LEGAL TEAM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 19, 2016

Contact: Laura Burstein, laura.burstein@squirepb.com, 202-626-6868 (o); 202-669-3411 (c)

Albert Woodfox, Longest-Serving Solitary Confinement Prisoner, to be Freed from Prison After Four Decades

Statements from Albert Woodfox – One of the ‘Angola 3’ – and Attorneys George Kendall and Katherine Kimpel

February 19, 2016, West Feliciana, LA — Albert Woodfox, who spent more time in solitary confinement than any prisoner in U.S. history, will be released this afternoon from custody after more than four decades in the Louisiana prison system. Mr. Woodfox, who turned 69 today, continues to maintain his innocence for the murder that sent him to solitary confinement for more than four decades. He pled no contest to two lesser crimes before being set free. 

“I want to thank my brother Michel for sticking with me all these years, and Robert King, who wrongly spent nearly 30 years in solitary.  I could not have survived without their courageous support, along with the support of my dear friend Herman Wallace, who passed away in 2013,” said Mr. Woodfox.  “I also wish to thank the many members of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3, Amnesty International, and the Roddick Foundation, all of whom supported me through this long struggle.   Lastly, I thank William Sothern, Rob McDuff and my lawyers at Squire Patton Boggs and Sanford Heisler Kimpel for never giving up.  Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges.  I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.”

The extreme and cruel solitary confinement endured by Mr. Woodfox and his fellow prisoners, Herman Wallace and Robert King, known as the “Angola 3,” drew international condemnation.  The unnecessary and inhumane use of solitary confinement was particularly stark in light of Mr. Woodfox’s exemplary conduct record for decades.  In fact, in the midst of litigation, the Wardens of both institutions where Mr. Woodfox was held in solitary confinement admitted that he had exemplary conduct records.

“Although we are overjoyed that Albert Woodfox is finally free, it is indefensible he was forced to endure decade after decade in harsh solitary confinement conditions, longer than any prisoner in the history of the United States,” stated George Kendall, attorney with Squire Patton Boggs, LLP.  “Albert survived the extreme and cruel punishment of 40 plus years in solitary confinement only because of his extraordinary strength and character.  These inhumane practices must stop. We hope the Louisiana Department of Corrections will reform and greatly limit its use of solitary confinement as have an increasing number of jurisdictions around the country.”

Mr. Woodfox and Mr. King, along with Mr. Wallace, brought a civil lawsuit in 2000, challenging the constitutionality of the State of Louisiana’s use of indefinite solitary confinement.  Mr. Woodfox and Mr. King confirmed that a primary goal of the ongoing litigation is to help bring light to the fact that there is no penological justification for how the State of Louisiana currently uses solitary confinement and to create incentives for reform.  As Mr. Woodfox explained, “I can now direct all my efforts to ending the barbarous use of solitary confinement and will continue my work on that issue here in the free world.” 

Their case, which is pending, is supported by extensive reports from two nationally-recognized corrections experts.  Those most recent experts’ reports, from 2015, are publicly available and include extensive detail about the State system’s failings (http://bit.ly/1PUqjiG; http://bit.ly/1oNAfUv).  As a federal judge wrote, the extreme length of Mr. Wallace’s and Mr. Woodfox’s solitary confinement was “so far beyond the pale that this Court has not found anything even remotely comparable in the annals of American jurisprudence.”  See Wilkerson v. Stalder, No. 00-304 (M.D. La. Feb. 1, 2005) (Doc. No. 105 at 21).

“It is past time for our nation to leave behind its shameful legacy of being one of the only developed countries in the world that still relies so heavily on the outdated and ineffective corrections practice of indefinite solitary confinement,” commented Katherine Kimpel, partner at Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP. “That Albert Woodfox served over four decades in solitary confinement shocks the conscience and is a national embarrassment.  We should take advantage of the growing national consensus regarding corrections reform to ensure that, if our society were to be judged by entering our prisons, we would not be found lacking.”

Attorneys for Mr. Woodfox said he will now be able to receive the medical attention he desperately needs.

If you would like to speak with attorneys for Mr. Woodfox or leading experts on solitary confinement conditions and reform, please contact Laura Burstein or Jamie Moss at Laura.Burstein@Squirepb.com, 202-626-6868 (o), 202-669-3411 (c); or jamie@newspros.com, 201-788-0142.

‘Angola 3’ Case Background

In 1972, Brent Miller, a young, white guard at Angola prison, was killed. At a time when Angola prison was highly racially polarized, investigators eventually honed in on four suspects who were politically active Black Panthers.  Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were two of those men.  No forensic or physical evidence linked Mr. Woodfox or Mr. Wallace to the crime, the fingerprints found at the scene, or the bloody knife found nearby. Several alibi witnesses placed both men in different parts of the prison and away from the scene of the crime at the time of the murder.

Mr. Woodfox was originally convicted in 1973 of the murder solely on the testimony of three inmate witnesses. 

However, as Mr. Woodfox learned decades after his original trial, these inmates were provided attractive incentives by the prison officials for their testimony, including promises of improved housing and a pardon.  State officials also suppressed inconsistent statements by these witnesses.

Eventually, Mr. Woodfox’s 1973 conviction was overturned because of discrimination in the selection of the grand jury that indicted him.  He was retried in 1998.  Despite the fact that two of the State’s three inmate witnesses had died, and despite the fact that they never were adequately cross-examined because of evidence hidden by prison officials, their transcripts from the prior trial were admitted into evidence and Mr. Woodfox was again convicted.

After many years of appeals, his 1998 conviction was set aside in later 2014 and he was recharged in 2015.  His lawyers waged a vigorous campaign to exclude from any new trial the prior testimony of the deceased witnesses who never were adequately cross-examined.  However, both the trial judge and the First Circuit Court of Appeal in Louisiana denied those motions, meaning that the prior statements would again be used against Mr. Woodfox at a new trial. 

Although Mr. Woodfox and his legal team remained optimistic about the possibility for an acquittal at a new trial, concerns about Mr. Woodfox’s health mounted as he approached his 69th birthday. Mr. Woodfox decided to bring the case to a conclusion with today’s action. His plea of “nolo contendere” or “no contest” to two lesser charges is not an admission of guilt. It means simply that he does not contest that the State would present evidence at a new trial from witnesses who said he committed this crime. Mr. Woodfox continues, as he always has, to maintain his innocence. 

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A3 Newsletter: Solitary Under Attack as 2016 Begins

(PHOTO: Tabling at the Amnesty Art for Rights event in New Orleans, December 2015)We want to send thanks from Albert and Robert to Amnesty activists for December’s Write for Rights campaign. Albert enjoyed receiving the thousands of letters and postcar…

A3 Newsletter: Solitary Under Attack as 2016 Begins

(PHOTO: Tabling at the Amnesty Art for Rights event in New Orleans, December 2015)We want to send thanks from Albert and Robert to Amnesty activists for December’s Write for Rights campaign. Albert enjoyed receiving the thousands of letters and postcar…

A3 Newsletter: Solitary Under Attack as 2016 Begins

(PHOTO: Tabling at the Amnesty Art for Rights event in New Orleans, December 2015)We want to send thanks from Albert and Robert to Amnesty activists for December’s Write for Rights campaign. Albert enjoyed receiving the thousands of letters and postcar…