Success: Conviction Overturned After 40 Years in Solitary Confinement

prison fence

Target: Buddy Caldwell, Louisiana Attorney General

Goal: Praise an appeals court’s decision to overturn the conviction of Albert Woodfox, and demand his immediate release

Albert Woodfox has spent four decades in solitary confinement for allegedly murdering a prison guard. He continues to maintain his innocence. Amnesty International and several ForceChange petitions have called for his release. Fortunately an appeals court has voted 3-0 to overturn the conviction, citing issues of racial discrimination and misconduct among other concerns. Yet Louisiana officials remain committed to keeping him behind bars.

Woodfox is the last member of the “Angola 3” still in prison. In 1971 he was sent to the Louisiana State Penitentiary (often referred to as Angola) for armed robbery, along with Herman Wallace and Robert King. Woodfox and Wallace became active in the prison chapter of the Black Panthers, organizing to improve conditions. They were soon implicated in the stabbing death of a young prison guard despite a total lack of physical evidence linking them to the crime. The main witness in the case has since been discredited.

For decades they were subjected to isolation, each man alone in a small cell for 23 hours a day. King won an appeal in 2001 and continued to rally international support for the release of the other Angola 3 members. In 2013 Wallace was also freed. Crippled with advanced liver cancer, he died just days later. And while Woodfox’s conviction has been overturned three times now, the state has successfully appealed the decision in the past and according to the Times-Picayune has promised to do so again.

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said in a statement that he and other state officials “respectfully disagree with the Court’s ruling” which calls for Woodfox’s release. While the success of his appeal should be celebrated his release could be pushed back months or years, if not indefinitely. Demand that Albert Woodfox be set free without further delay.


Dear Mr. Caldwell,

I am writing to call for the immediate release of Albert Woodfox, an inmate now kept in solitary confinement where he has spent forty years of his life. Amnesty International has called for his release, as has the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture who maintains that “four decades in solitary confinement can only be described as torture.”

Yet according to Mother Jones you oppose his release “with every fiber of [your] being.” You have even gone on record to claim the Angola 3 were never kept in solitary confinement. No physical evidence links Woodfox to the murder of a prison guard. Why continue this irrational course of action?

Your ongoing insistence that he be imprisoned, and so inhumanely, is a stain on the honor of your great state and a disgrace to your office. But it is not too late to do the right thing. I urge you to support the appeals court’s call for the immediate release of Albert Woodfox.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: jodylehigh via Pixabay

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