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DISPATCH: New Hope for the Angola Three
Posted on April 24, 2002 by Anita

At last there is good news to report about the Angola Three! The United States District Court in Baton Rouge has preliminarily ruled in favor of Robert Wilkerson, Herman Wallace, and Albert Woodfox -- the "Angola Three" -- on an important issue in their civil lawsuit challenging their 30-year stay in solitary confinement at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. That means the lawsuit is a step closer to moving ahead after 18 months in legal and bureaucratic limbo.

The lawyers for the state of Louisiana tried to gut the A3's lawsuit -- filed on their behalf by the ACLU -- saying that the federal courts do not have jurisdiction over the process by which the prison determines whether to keep inmates in solitary. In the case of Angola, the inmates are brought before a "lockdown review" hearing every 90 days. And every 90 days, for almost 30 years, the lockdown review panel has sent the men back to solitary. If the magistrate's recommendation is accepted by a federal judge, the ACLU can continue pressing its claim that the lockdown review hearings are a sham, and that no meaningful review actually takes place.

According to Scott Fleming, the lawyer who brought the plight of the Angola Three to my attention in the first place, "The magistrate found that the law clearly establishes that three decades of solitary confinement is 'an atypical and significant hardship on the inmate in relation to the ordinary incidents of prison life.'"

The ACLU suit also includes testimony from witnesses who have spoken to Angola Warden Burl Cain outside of prison. These witnesses say Cain told them that the men remain in solitary because they have not "reformed" their political beliefs.

The three men were known to prison officials as political activists and prison reform advocates when they arrived at Angola on separate robbery charges in the early 1970s. They claim that their efforts to organize their fellow inmates to protest and encourage reform of the racist and corrupt prison administration apparently prompted the wardens at the time to frame them for murders they did not commit, and to throw them in solitary to make examples of them.

The ACLU lawsuit seeks to force Angola officials to transfer Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace into the general prison population and to win monetary damages for them and for Robert King Wilkerson, who was freed in 2001 after his conviction for the murder of a fellow inmate (to which another man confessed 25 years earlier) was overturned.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Woodfox and Wallace continue to slog through the legal bureaucracy in their bid to win new trials for both men. New evidence continues to surface that the prosecution paid or coerced inmates to testify against the men, and that the prison administration and the state mishandled or suppressed evidence that would have favored the defendants.

Friday, April 19, 2002 marked 30 years since the murder of Angola guard Brent Miller, the crime for which Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were convicted. While the inmates marked that solemn date, the prison itself was gearing up for the infamous Angola Prison Rodeo, which kicked off off on the 20th.

You can learn more about the Angola Three by reading my previous dispatch outlining the case, or by visiting the National Coalition to Free the Angola Three.

In other news, Wilkerson is about to embark on a speaking tour of Britain with Althea Francois, the New Orleans Coordinator of the National Coalition to Free the Angola Three. Click here for their itinerary.

Act Now

  • Donate to the A3 legal defense fund. Send a check or money order payable to "It's About Time" to:

    National Coalition to Free the Angola 3
    P.O. Box 221100
    Sacramento, CA 95822

  • Sign our petition of solidarity with the Angola Three, which calls for Woodfox and Wallace's immediate release from solitary and for new trials for both men. When we have gathered 3,000 signatures, we will forward the petition to Governor Mike Foster, Jr., Attorney General Richard Ieyoub, Angola Warden Burl Cain, as well as elected officials in the U.S. Congress and in the Bush Administration.

  • Sign up for our newsletter dedicated to developments in the Angola Three's legal struggle. To join, send a blank email to a3-subscribe@topica.com. We won't share your email address with anyone, and we will only send you updates when there is significant new information. No spam, we promise!

  • Write an email, letter, or fax expressing your outrage at the unfair trials all of the Angola Three men received, and at the inhumanity of 30 years spent in solitary confinement. Send your email to any or all of the following:

    Governor M.J. "Mike" Foster Jr.
    Email: contacts@gov.state.la.us
    Fax: (225) 342-7099
    Mail: Office of the Governor
    P.O. Box 94004
    Baton Rouge, LA 70804

    Senator John Breaux
    Email: senator@breaux.senate.gov
    503 Hart Senate Office Building
    Washington D.C. 20510

    Attorney General Richard Ieyoub
    Email: webmaster@ag.state.la.us
    Fax: (225) 342-8703
    Mail: Richard Ieyoub, Attorney General
    State Capitol, 22nd Floor
    300 Capitol Drive
    Baton Rouge, LA 70802

  • Write to Albert Woodfox and/or Herman Wallace expressing your support for their cause.

    Albert Woodfox #72148
    CCR Upper B Cell 13
    Louisiana State Penitentiary
    Angola, LA 70712

    Herman Wallace #76759
    CCR Upper C Cell 1
    Louisiana State Penitentiary
    Angola, LA 70712

  • If you would like to send spending money directly to Woodfox or Wallace's prison accounts, you may do so by sending a US Postal Service money order (checks, cash, and other non-Postal Service money orders will NOT be accepted) to:

    Louisiana State Penitentiary
    Cashier's Office
    Angola, LA 70712

    (Write "For Herman Wallace #76759" or "For Albert Woodfox #72148" on the envelope)

Topic : Human_rights
Posted By : Anita
Posted On : April 24, 2002



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