Only two cases left in our coverage of this year’s Write for Rights, but there are four days left in the annual letter writing marathon. Even if you haven’t been following along or writing a letter on every single case, there is still time to get in one letter. There is still time to use your voice to help someone this year. A good choice for your efforts is Albert Woodfox.
Woodfox was convicted, with two other men, of murdering a prison guard at Louisiana’s Angola prison. Woodfox and one other man, Herman Wallace, were sentenced to life imprisonment for the crime even though there wasn’t any evidence that linked them to the crime. Potentially exculpatory evidence was “lost” by the state, and the authorities bribed the key eyewitness, leaving questions unanswered regarding police protocols and the guilt of Woodfox and Wallace.
Both Wallace and Woodfox have spent over 40 years in solitary confinement. The men spent 23 hours a day isolated in a small cell, four steps long and three steps across. Wallace has his conviction overturned in October 2013, when he was subsequently released. A few days after his release, he died from complications from liver cancer. Woodfox’s conviction has been overturned three times, but state authorities have appealed the decision each time with a ruling in their favor. He remains in solitary confinement, and we want the authorities to release Albert Woodfox immediately and unconditionally.
Office of the Attorney General
P.O Box 94005
Baton Rouge, LA 70804
Dear Attorney General Caldwell,
Today, 42 years after he was first placed in solitary confinement, only one member of the “Angola 3” remains behind bars. His case is one of the most egregious examples of Louisiana’s use of prolonged solitary confinement in correctional facilities. Today, I am calling on you to act in the name of justice. I urge you to withdraw your appeal against the February 2013 ruling that overturned Albert Woodfox’s conviction so that he can be freed.
The litigation surrounding Albert Woodfox’s case has spanned four decades and includes two flawed trials. His conviction has been overturned once by a state court and twice by a federal court, underscoring concerns about the fairness of the legal process. No physical evidence ties Mr. Woodfox to Officer Miller’s >murder.
Despite all of this, Albert Woodfox has been kept in isolation for decades, in conditions that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment condemns as torture. He has been denied meaningful social contact and access to rehabilitation programs. Such conditions violate minimum international standards for humane treatment and have lasting physical and psychological effects on inmates.
After subjecting Albert Woodfox to cruel and inhuman conditions for decades, despite a flawed conviction, there is only one just and humane action the state can take. Remove Albert Woodfox from solitary confinement, and withdraw the appeal against the US District Court’s ruling. Allow him his freedom.