Target: General James Caldwell and the state of Louisiana
Goal: Free civil rights activist Albert Woodfox from solitary confinement in Louisiana
Recently, a federal judge presiding in the US District Court for Louisiana agreed that Albert Woodfox’s extreme sentence to 40 years of solitary confinement was unjust. However, like the last two times he was granted habeas relief, the State of Louisiana led by General James Caldwell has successfully overturned his freedom again, and so he will remain in solitary confinement. Though there is no solid evidence for the crime he allegedly committed in 1972, racial and political bias have kept him locked in a cell for the past four decades. Urge General Caldwell and the state of Louisiana to stop overturning appeals for Woodfox’s freedom and instead to release him from an inhumane sentence.
In 1792, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace, both members of the Angola Three, were convicted of stabbing and killing a 23 year-old prison guard. During their youth, they joined the Black Panther Party and fought to end segregation, systemic rape, and violence inside prison walls, as well as to improve living conditions for inmates by working as jailhouse lawyers. After sit-ins and strikes, many locals were suspicious of the party as it was also reputably violent. When Woodfox was convicted of the murder, all evidence was undermined and he was immediately placed into solitary confinement, then eventually moved to Angola Prison in rural Louisiana. He has been there ever since.
Activists who support him argue that he was targeted because of his political beliefs and continually confined due to racial bias. Regardless of whether or not he aided in the 1972 crime is irrelevant in lieu of his present penalty; criminals who commit greater crimes today do not suffer such extreme punishment. In this case, it still cannot be proved that Woodfox was guilty of, or even involved in the crime. Nicholas Trenticosta, a lawyer from New Orleans, claims that the case is driven by “pure, flat-out racism” and that Woodfox’s jury consisted of a panel of angry white men during his trial. The Center for Constitutional Rights agrees and is challenging the use of the punishment, stating that “ever since solitary confinement came into existence, it has been used as a tool of repression…all too often it is imposed on individuals, particularly prisoners of color, who threaten prison administrations in an altogether different way.”
The case of Albert Woodfox is transparent. A man who fought for justice and equality posed a threat to the system, and the system has punished him undeservedly ever since. Appeal to General Caldwell and the state of Louisiana and ask them to overcome their predominant sense of racial and political bias by granting this man the freedom he deserves.
Dear General James Caldwell and the State of Louisiana,
For 40 long years, a man who was convicted on unstable grounds for murder has suffered physical and mental torment in solitary confinement. While fighting against segregation, systemic rape, and violence, he was targeted for his race and party affiliation after his alleged participation in the 1972 murder of a prison guard. Regardless of whether or not he aided in the crime, the punishment he has received is inhumane, unjust, and far too extreme.
In addition to the cruel treatment this man has been subjected to, there are many who believe in his innocence. Albert Woodfox’s habeas relief has been granted three times, but the state has successfully struck down the overturning of the conviction, and so he remains unfairly restrained. I urge you see past racial and political bias and grant this man freedom from solitary confinement.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Film: In the Land of the Free