Will the last ‘Angola Three’ inmate be set free?
Louisiana’s attorney general voiced his disagreement on Friday with a court ruling that could lead to the release of an inmate who has spent 42 years in solitary confinement, Reuters reported.
“We respectfully disagree with the Court’s ruling, and remain committed to seeing that the trial jury’s judgment finding Albert Woodfox guilty of murdering Officer Brent Miller is upheld,” said Louisiana Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell in a statement.
In a 37-page ruling, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided unanimously on Thursday to uphold the overturning of a 1972 conviction of Woodfox in Miller’s murder at Louisiana State Penitentiary–known as Angola prison, after the 19th century plantation which used to occupy its 18,000 acres of land.
“The Appeals Court decision focused on a technicality with the grand jury selection process from as far back as 30 years ago,” Caldwell wrote.
While serving a sentence for armed robbery, Woodfox, along with fellow inmates Herman Wallace and Robert King were convicted in officer Miller’s murder and sent to closet-sized, windowless solitary cells to wait out their sentences, according to an editorial in the New York Times.
The trio became known as “The Angola Three”.
They were vocal and insistent about their innocence and caught the attention of groups like Amnesty International.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez said in a 2013 statement: “Keeping Albert Woodfox in solitary confinement for more than four decades clearly amounts to torture and it should be lifted immediately.”
Woodfox is the last of the three to remain at Angola’s maximum security prison, also nicknamed “The Farm” as it is a working agricultural complex, according to the non-profit Center for Land Use Interpretation. King’s case was overturned in 2001. Wallace was released in 2013, but died shortly thereafter from cancer.
“The circumstances of the incarceration of the so-called Angola Three clearly show that the use of solitary confinement in the US penitentiary system goes far beyond what is acceptable under international human rights law,” Méndez said.