... 3’s hard-fought struggle for justice and freedom from solitary confinement. The three members of the Angola 3 – Herman ... and Robert King – believe that they were held in solitary confinement for decades because of their work organizing fellow ...
... to overturn the conviction of a terminally ill man held in solitary confinement for more than 41 years after a flawed trial is a positive ... to overturn the conviction of a terminally ill man held in solitary confinement for more than 41 years after a flawed trial is a positive ...
After spending 41 years in solitary confinement, Herman Wallace of the ‘Angola 3’ is now ... After spending 41 years in solitary confinement, Herman Wallace of the ‘Angola 3’ is now ...
... 39 years ago, three young black men were put in solitary confinement; two are still in isolation. In total, the three men have spent more than 100 years in solitary, mostly in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, USA. ...
... by Iran in 2009 on espionage charges. Shourd was held in solitary confinement for 410 days (Photo Credit: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty ... both Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox had been held in solitary confinement for 4 decades in Louisiana – longer than almost ...
... years, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace have been held in solitary confinement, mostly in the Louisiana State Penitentiary (known as ... rights abuse.
A dying prisoner has been released in Louisiana after serving nearly 42 years in solitary confinement, longer than any other person in the United States. Herman Wallace and two others, known as the Angola Three, were placed in solitary in 1972 following the murder of a prison guard. The Angola Three and their supporters say they were framed for the murder over their political activism as members of one of the first prison chapters of the Black Panthers. In a surprise development on Tuesday, Wallace was released from prison after a federal judge overturned his conviction, saying he did not receive a fair trial. Wallace, who is near death from advanced liver cancer, was taken directly to a New Orleans hospital where supporters greeted his arrival. We are joined by three guests: Robert King, who until Tuesday night was the only freed member of the Angola Three and helped deliver to Wallace the news of his release; Wallace’s defense attorney, George Kendall; and Jackie Sumell, an artist and Wallace supporter who is with him at the Louisiana State University Medical Center in New Orleans. "This is a tremendous victory and a miracle that Herman Wallace will die a free man," Sumell says. "He’s had 42 years of maintaining his innocence in solitary confinement, and if his last few breaths are as a free man, we’ve won."
NERMEEN SHAIKH: We begin today’s show with news in a case Democracy Now! has been following closely. Herman Wallace, a member of the so-called Angola Three, has been released from prison after being held for nearly 42 years in solitary confinement. He was taken directly to the hospital, where he now lays dying of advanced stage liver cancer
Wallace and two others were in prison for armed robbery, then accused in 1972 of murdering a prison guard at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola. The men say they were framed because of their political activism as members of one of the first prison chapters of the Black Panther Party.
The dramatic series of events on Tuesday began when Federal Judge Brian A. Jackson of the Middle District Court of Louisiana ordered Wallace’s release and overturned his conviction. In the order, Judge Jackson called on the state to, quote, "immediately release Mr. Wallace from custody" due to an improperly chosen grand jury that excluded women jurors in violation of the 14th Amendment. The state appealed the ruling, but Judge Jackson quickly responded with another order that said failure to release Mr. Wallace from custody will, quote, "result in a judgment of contempt."
AMY GOODMAN: As the legal battle played out, Herman Wallace’s lawyers sent an ambulance to wait outside the gates of the prison to pick him up. Then, at 7:30 p.m. Central time Tuesday night, Herman Wallace, who is 71 years old, was met by members of his legal team at the gates and left the prison in the ambulance that took him to New Orleans. He was taken directly to a hospital, where supporters there greeted him
SUPPORTER: That’s him! [cheering]
AMY GOODMAN: For more, we’re joined by one of the people who met Herman Wallace to deliver the news he would be released: fellow Angola Three member Robert King. Until Tuesday night, King was the only freed member of the Angola Three. He spent 29 years in solitary confinement for a murder he did not commit. He was released in 2001 after his conviction was overturned.
The third member of the Angola Three, Albert Woodfox, remains in prison at the David Wade Correctional Center in Homer, Louisiana. In recent months, he says he’s been subjected to strip searches and anal cavity searches as often as six times a day.
Robert King joins us from Austin, just back from visiting Wallace. In fact, he was the one who delivered the news to Herman Wallace that his conviction had been overturned.
Here in New York, we’re joined by Herman Wallace’s defense attorney, George Kendall.
But first we go directly to the New Orleans hospital where Herman Wallace lies. We’re joined by Jackie Sumell, the artist behind Herman’s House. She joined us on Monday in studio in New Orleans when Democracy Now! was broadcasting from there, broadcasting about the case of Herman Wallace, then still in prison. Now she joins us by phone at the bedside of Herman Wallace from the LSU—Louisiana State University—Medical Center, where Herman Wallace is now.
Jackie, can you talk about Herman’s condition at this point?
JACKIE SUMELL: Yeah, good morning, Amy. Herman has taken a turn for the worse. At about 3:00 in the morning, I got a phone call from one of the other supporters, who said, "You should come in." The doctors aren’t sure if his kidneys are also failing, as well as his liver. So I’ve been with him since 3:00. He’s not very—he’s able to speak a word, like if you move him around, he’ll yell or indicate that he’s uncomfortable, but he doesn’t seem to be
--Special thanks to PBS, who is currently honoring Herman by streaming the new film Herman's House, which you can watch, in full, here.
MEDIA COVERAGE: Oct. 2 episode of Democracy Now (embedded above) and Amy Goodman's Truthdig column II BBC News Magazine II Steven Hawkins, Amnesty International II NY Times II NY Times editorial II CNN II Times-Picayune (with photos of Herman's release) II The Advocate II NBC II ABC / AP II South China Morning Post / AFP II NY Daily News / Reuters II Huffington Post Live TV (w/ Robert King) II WAFB CBS News Baton Rouge (video) II CBS National News II UPI II Catholic Online (w/ WGNO ABC video of Herman's arrival at LSU) II
This post was modified from its original form on 04 Oct, 21:38
Judge Orders Angola 3's Herman Wallace Released From Prison
U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson did a remarkably good and decent thing today -- something that every judge should aspire to do in the right circumstances. He found a way to bring a small measure of justice to a man whose entire life had been rife with injustice. He found a way to order the immediate release of Herman Wallace, a terminally ill prisoner who spent 40 years in solitary confinement at the notorious Angola prison in Louisiana in a 6' by 9' cell for a murder there was no valid evidence he committed.
Last week, I wrote about this case here at The Atlantic because I felt it comprised so many of the failings of the American justice system. A black man whose trial is marked by racial animus. A defendant whose attorney does unconscionable work. A lack of physical evidence or adequate investigation. Co-defendants and state witnesses with obvious incentives to lie. Punishment that was both cruel and unusual. Deliberate indifference on the part of reviewing courts. It all happened to Herman Wallace. All of it and more; his case was a disgrace from the beginning.
Here is the link to Judge Jackson's order. If you read it, you will discover that he did not focus upon any of these constitutional infirmities in granting Wallace the relief he sought. Instead, Judge Jackson held that the original indictment against Wallace, over 40 years ago, was constitutionally flawed because women were excluded from his grand jury. So you can add "equal protection violation" to the heap of ways in which Wallace's rights were denied by our courts for four decades. Here is what the judge wrote:
The record in this case makes clear that Mr. Wallace's grand jury was improperly chosen in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of "the equal protection of the laws," and that the Louisiana courts, when presented with the opportunity to correct this error, failed to do so.... Our Constitution requires this result even where, as here, it means overturning Mr. Wallace's conviction nearly forty years after it was entered
In the hours after the ruling was made public, state lawyers rushed to object to the judge's ruling, arguing that Wallace, who is dying of liver cancer and may have only days to live, did not deserve to be allowed to be freed on bail while Louisiana decides whether to retry him or not. The conduct of these officials on this day is nothing if not consistent with Louisiana's treatment of this man throughout his entire adult life -- cruel and unusual to the bitter end.
At long last, Herman Wallace should be allowed to die in peace, and in freedom, as far away from that dreaded prison as his breath will take him. Let his miserable life and his early death become a symbol for all that is wrong about what America accepts today in its justice systems. Let it be a lesson, too, about perseverance and the ceaseless value of redemption. For decades, while he sat alone in that tiny, fetid cell, justice delayed to Wallace was justice denied to him. But today, while he is still alive to savor it, the law has turned away from injustice.
It is the first day of the rest of Herman Wallace's life -- and I sure hope it is not too late for him to enjoy it.
NOTE: Immediately after Judge Jackson's initial order, attorneys with the East Baton Rouge district attorney's office filed a request to halt Wallace's release. This evening, Judge Jackson promptly rejected the request, again ordered the prisoner's immediate release, and warned prosecutors that they would be held in contempt if they refused to allow him to leave prison. Here is the link to that second order. Prosecutors have the right to appeal this ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
UPDATE (October 4, 2013): Herman Wallace died of cancer this morning at the age of 71—died a free man less than three days after a federal judge ordered him released from prison. Just hours before his death, in a final act of hostility on the part of Louisiana, a loca
NEW ORLEANS -- NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A 71-year-old Louisiana prisoner who spent 41 years in solitary confinement and is now dying of cancer was released late Tuesday from prison, his attorneys said.
Late Tuesday, U.S. District Chief Judge Brian Jackson in Baton Rouge denied the state's motion seeking to block his earlier order overturning Herman Wallace's 1974 murder conviction in the death of Angola guard Brent Miller.
Jackson had also ordered a new trial because women were unconstitutionally excluded from the grand jury that indicted Wallace in the guard's death. And, he ordered him immediately released.
Wallace's attorneys said the freed prisoner left a correctional center in St. Gabriel by ambulance Tuesday evening and was expected to go to LSU Interim Hospital in New Orleans for treatment of advanced terminal liver cancer.
"Tonight, Herman Wallace has left the walls of Louisiana prisons and will be able to receive the medical care that his advanced liver cancer requires," his legal team said in a statement.
Earlier Tuesday, Jackson overturned Wallace's 1974 murder conviction in Miller's death.
"The record in this case makes clear that Mr. Wallace's grand jury was improperly chosen in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of 'the equal protection of the laws' ... and that the Louisiana courts, when presented with the opportunity to correct this error, failed to do so," Jackson wrote.
He added, "Our Constitution requires this result even where, as here, it means overturning Mr. Wallace's conviction nearly forty years after it was entered."
George Kendall, one of Wallace's attorneys, told The Associated Press in an earlier telephone interview the decision gives his client "some measure of justice after a lifetime of injustice," but his response was tempered by the grim outlook for Wallace's health.
"He's pleased," Kendall said of Wallace's reaction after hearing of Tuesday's ruling, "but he's quite ill."
Wallace, whose birthday is Oct. 13, has been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. Kendall said he "ceased receiving treatment a couple of weeks ago."
Kendall said the state had filed notice it would appeal Jackson's ruling. A telephone message left with East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar C. Moore III's office was not immediately returned. The state Department of Public Safety and Corrections referred all questions to Moore's office.
Wallace and two other inmates convicted in the 23-year-old guard's slaying came to be known as the "Angola 3."
Wallace, of New Orleans, was serving a 50-year armed robbery sentence when Miller was fatally stabbed in 1972. Wallace and the two others convicted in Miller's death were moved to isolation at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. In 2009, Wallace was moved to "closed-cell restriction" at Hunt Correctional in St. Gabriel and recently was taken to the prison's hospital unit.
Kendall said his client has asked that, after his demise, they continue to press the lawsuit challenging Wallace's "unconstitutional confinement in solitary confinement for four decades."
"It is Mr. Wallace's hope that this litigation will help ensure that others, including his lifelong friend and fellow 'Angola 3' member, Albert Woodfox, do not continue to suffer such cruel and unusual confinement even after Mr. Wallace is gone," his legal team said in a written statement.
Kendall said Woodfox won full habeas relief last year but the state has appealed that as well. The case is pending before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In 2010, Woodfox was moved to the David Wade Correctional Center in Homer, where he remains in custody.
Woodfox and Wallace have continued to deny involvement in Miller's killing and say they were targeted because they helped establish a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party at the Angola prison in 1971, set up demonstrations and organized strikes for better conditions in the prison.
Amnesty International USA last year delivered a petition to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's office, containing 65,000 signatures from people around the world who called the men's solitary confinement inhuman and degrading.
The group's executive director, Steven W. Hawkins, welcomed the court's ruling involving Wallace. "Tragically, this step toward justice has come as Herman is dying from cancer with only days or hours left to live," he said in a statement. "No ruling can erase the cruel, inhuman and degrading prison conditions he endured for more than 41 years."
The third man, Robert King, was released after 29 years in solitary confinement. King, convicted of killing a fellow inmate in 1973, was released in 2001 after his conviction was reversed and he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
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.
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•In the early 1970s, while in various jails waiting to begin serving prison terms for robberies they were convicted of separately committing, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were exposed to and became committed to upholding the principles of the Black Panther Party.
•When they arrived at the Louisiana State Prison at Angola, they found that it lived up to its reputation as one of the bloodiest and most brutal penitentiaries in the United States, with drugs, gambling, stabbings and rapes routine matters of daily occurrence.
•Since one of the most basic of the Black Panther Party principles called for the practice of improving life in ones community, Woodfox and Wallace requested of the national organization that they be granted permission to establish the first BPP chapter inside prison
•Officially recognized as a Black Panther Party chapter, Woodfox, Wallace and a few other brave souls began organizing the prisoners at Angola to stop all prisoner-to-prisoner violence, even the rapes of new prisoners that had become an expected part of life at the prison among a population most of whom were scheduled to die in the institution
•As the prisoner-to-prisoner violence did, in fact, decrease greatly, the money made by the guards and administration through the wide-spread vice and corruption decreased, as well, much to their displeasure. Additionally, with the prisoners organizing in their own best interests, the administration no longer felt it was in control.
•On April 17, 1972, a young White guard was brutally stabbed to death while most of the prisoners were at breakfast. Almost immediately, Woodfox and Wallace were placed in solitary confinement and within days, a viciously brutal serial rapist doing a life sentence claimed that he had seen the two men stab the guard to death.
•Despite the fact that there was no other evidence whatsoever that Woodfox and Wallace had committed the crime, despite the fact that a bloody shoeprint and bloody fingerprint at the scene did not belong to either of them, and despite the fact that given their locations, it would have been impossible for them to commit the murder, they were ultimately convicted of the crime (based only on the testimony of the rapist who was subsequently released from prison, though he was never originally supposed to be paroled).
•In the fall of 1972, Robert King, also exposed to and espousing the Black Panther Party principles after he was incarcerated, was also brought to Angola to serve a sentence for robbery. Upon arrival, he was immediately placed in solitary confinement for investigation related to the murder, despite the fact that he was not even in the institution at the time it was committed. King, together with Woodfox and Wallace, then, became known as The Angola 3