USA: 100 YEARS IN SOLITARY

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USA: 100 YEARSIN SOLITARYTHE ‘ANGOLA 3’ AND THEIRFIGHT FOR JUSTICE

2 USA: 100 YEARS IN SOLITARYTHE ‘ANGOLA 3’ AND THEIR FIGHT FOR JUSTICE www.Angola3.orgFor nearly four decades, 64-year-old AlbertWoodfox and 69-year-old Herman Wallacehave been held in solitary confinement,mostly in the Louisiana State Penitentiary(known as Angola prison). They have beendenied any meaningful review of thereasons for their isolation. Indeed, for thepast 15 years the prison authorities havebreached their own policies in order to keepthe men in isolation.Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallacewere convicted of the murder in 1972 ofprison guard Brent Miller. They wereplaced in isolation together with a thirdman, Robert King, who was accused ofa different crime.39 years ago, three young black men were put insolitary confinement; two are still in isolation. In total,the three men have spent more than 100 years insolitary, mostly in the Louisiana State Penitentiaryin Angola, USA. But the ‘Angola 3’ have refused tobe silenced; their fight for justice continues.Robert King was released in 2001 afterserving 29 years in solitary.Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfoxremain in solitary confinement in ClosedCell Restricted (CCR) units.“We’re not asking forsympathy. We’re askingfor justice. We’reasking for humanity.”Robert King, 2010Known as the Angola 3, all three menare still fighting for justice and forrecognition of the cruelty of their yearsin solitary confinement.Above: Herman Wallace, Robert King and The Mob Film Company Ltd 2009Legal aspects of the case against AlbertWoodfox and Herman Wallace are deeplytroubling. No physical evidence linking themen to the guard’s murder has ever beenfound; potentially exculpatory DNA evidencehas been lost; and the convictions werebased on questionable inmate testimony.Amnesty International June 2011Index: AMR 51/041/2011Albert Woodfox – the Angola 3 – pictured inAngola prison, 2001.Cover: Louisiana State Penitentiary, knownas Angola prison. A former slave plantation,Angola in the 1970s was one of the mostbrutal prisons in the USA.Over the years, documents have emergedsuggesting that the main eyewitness wasbribed by prison officials into givingstatements against the men and that the statewithheld evidence about the perjuredtestimony of another inmate witness. Afurther witness later retracted his testimony.“If they did not do this – and Ibelieve that they didn’t – theyhave been living a nightmarefor 36 years!”Teenie Verret, widow of Officer Brent Miller, speaking in 2008about the conviction of Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallacefor her husband’s murderAlbert Woodfox’s conviction for the murderhas been overturned twice. Judges citedracial discrimination, misconduct by theprosecution, inadequate defence andthe suppression of exculpatory evidencein their rulings. In 2008, a US DistrictJudge ruled that Albert Woodfox shouldbe granted a retrial or released. In 2010,the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed

USA: 100 YEARS IN SOLITARYTHE ‘ANGOLA 3’ AND THEIR FIGHT FOR JUSTICE3 The Mob Film Company Ltd 2009the 2008 ruling. Albert Woodfox’s caseis now under federal court review and ahearing is scheduled for 2011.In 2006, a State Judicial Commissionrecommended that Herman Wallace’sconviction be reversed. However, theLouisiana Supreme Court rejected thisrecommendation and denied HermanWallace’s appeal without comment. Hiscase is now before the federal courts.In addition to the legal appeals againstthe murder convictions, the Angola 3 aresuing the Louisiana authorities claimingthat their prolonged isolation is “cruel andunusual punishment” and so violates theUS Constitution. www.Angola3.orgTop: Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfoxshortly after their arrests in the late 1960s.Right: Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace,Angola prison, 2008. The photo was takenby a prison photographer during a visit bya supporter.Index: AMR 51/041/2011Amnesty International June 2011

4 USA: 100 YEARS IN SOLITARYTHE ‘ANGOLA 3’ AND THEIR FIGHT FOR JUSTICEOccasional visits and limitedphone calls for family andfriends are the only waysHerman Wallace and AlbertWoodfox can interact socially.“This call originates from aLouisiana correctional facilityand may be recorded ormonitored you have 15seconds left on this call.” The Mob Film Company Ltd 2009Amnesty International June 2011Index: AMR 51/041/2011

USA: 100 YEARS IN SOLITARYTHE ‘ANGOLA 3’ AND THEIR FIGHT FOR JUSTICE Louisiana State Archives“The cells are very small. Maybefour or five steps for the length andabout three steps for the width.”Albert WoodfoxCONdITIONSThroughout their prolonged isolation,Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace haveendured very restrictive conditions.Herman Wallace was transferred to theElaine Hunt Correctional Center in 2009and, the following year, Albert Woodfoxwas transferred to the David WadeCorrectional Center. But although bothmen have now been moved out of Angolaprison, the conditions in which they areheld have not changed. They are confinedto their cells for 23 hours a day. When theweather is fine, they are allowed outsidethree times a week for an hour of solitaryrecreation in an outdoor cage measuring1.8x4.5m. For four hours a week, they areallowed to leave their cells to shower orwalk, alone, along the cell unit corridor.Their cells measure 2x3m. All they cansee from inside the cell is a small area justbeyond the bars at the front. Each cell hasa toilet, a mattress on a steel bed platform,sheets, a blanket, a pillow and a smallmetal bench attached to the wall. Naturallight is limited to a very small window atthe back of the cell.They have restricted access to books,newspapers and TV. Throughout theirimprisonment, they have been deprivedof opportunities for mental stimulation;Index: AMR 51/041/20115they have never been allowed to workor to have access to education. Socialinteraction has been restricted tooccasional visits from friends and familyand limited telephone calls.Lawyers report that both men are sufferingfrom serious health problems caused orexacerbated by their years of closeconfinement. In the case of Herman Wallace,this includes osteoarthritis aggravated byinadequate exercise, functional impairment,memory loss and insomnia. Albert Woodfox isdescribed as suffering from claustrophobia,hypertension, heart disease, chronic renalinsufficiency, diabetes, anxiety and insomnia.Decades of solitary confinement are alsohaving a clear psychological effect on themen. After being held together in the sameprison for nearly 40 years, they are nowsubjected to equally harsh conditions, but250 miles apart in separate institutions.Herman Wallace is being held on a tieralongside mentally ill people and says thatthe shouting and screaming of inmates ismaking it very difficult for him to sleep.Above: A cell in the Closed Cell Restricted(isolation) unit in Angola prison.Left: Prison telephone at the Louisiana StatePenitentiary.Amnesty International June 2011

6 USA: 100 YEARS IN SOLITARYTHE ‘ANGOLA 3’ AND THEIR FIGHT FOR JUSTICE The Mob Film Company Ltd 2009“I may be free of Angola.But Angola will never be free of me.”Robert King, released in 2001 after 29 years in solitary confinementAmnesty International June 2011Index: AMR 51/041/2011

USA: 100 YEARS IN SOLITARYTHE ‘ANGOLA 3’ AND THEIR FIGHT FOR JUSTICE www.Angola3.org“They might bendme a little bit. Theymight cause me alot of pain. They mayeven take my life.But they will neverbe able to break me.”Albert Woodfox www.Angola3.orgHerman Wallace7“[Wallace’s] record doesn’t really matter alot. The original sentence,that’s why he’s there,that’s why he’s thereand that’s why he’s goingto stay there”.The Warden of Angola prison attempting to justifyHerman Wallace’s continued isolation, 2008Index: AMR 51/041/2011Amnesty International June 2011

8 USA: 100 YEARS IN SOLITARYTHE ‘ANGOLA 3’ AND THEIR FIGHT FOR JUSTICE www.Angola3.orgCampaigning for justice for the Angola 3,Baton Rouge, 1972.whY ARE ThEY STILL INISOLATION?In the early 1970s, conditions at Angolawere brutal. Racism was rife. Inmates wereracially segregated and guarded exclusivelyby white officers, as well as armed whiteinmates. The culture of violence thatinfused prison life was reflected in the highnumber of murders and the widespreaduse of sexual slavery among inmates.In this toxic environment, Albert Woodfoxand Herman Wallace, who were bothimprisoned for unrelated cases of armedrobbery, founded a prison chapter of theBlack Panther Party (BPP). They were laterjoined by Robert King and together the mencampaigned for fair treatment and betterconditions for inmates; racial solidaritybetween black and white inmates; and anend to the rape and sexual slavery that wasthen endemic in the prison.“They tried to change conditions the prisonwas considered the worst in the nation. Theybrought people together and brought in anideology that said that despite the fact thatyou were prisoners, you still had some rights.Because of this, the administration saw themas being threats and they have paid dearly.”Throughout the long years of isolation,Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace haveconsistently maintained that they did notkill Brent Miller. They believe that theywere falsely implicated in the murderbecause of their political activism in prisonas members of the BPP. During the manyyears of litigation in the case, evidencehas emerged to suggest that the decisionto keep them in solitary was based atleast in part on their political activismand association with the BPP.“I would still keep [Albert Woodfox] inCCR. I still know he has a propensity forviolence. I still know that he is still tryingto practice Black Pantherism, and I stillwould not want him walking around myprison because he would organize the youngnew inmates. I would have me all kinds ofproblems, more than I could stand, and Iwould have the blacks chasing after them.I would have chaos and conflict and Ibelieve that. He has to stay in a cell whilehe’s at Angola.”Burl Cain, Angola prison Warden, 2008. These remarks weremade despite a finding by a US district judge in November2008 that Albert Woodfox had maintained a clean conductrecord for 20 years.Robert King, 2011Amnesty International June 2011Index: AMR 51/041/2011Since 1972, the prison review board hasreviewed the prison’s original decisionto keep the men in solitary on more than150 occasions. At each review, withoutgiving the men an opportunity toparticipate in the process or disputethe decision, the review board hasdetermined that Albert Woodfox andHerman Wallace should continue to beheld in CCR due to the “nature of theoriginal reason for lockdown”.In 1996, Louisiana prison policy waschanged to remove “original reason forlockdown” as a factor to be taken intoaccount by the review board whenconsidering whether to continue aninmate’s confinement in CCR. This changehas never been applied to reviews of thecontinued isolation of Albert Woodfox orHerman Wallace; the board simplycontinues to note “Original reason forlockdown” on all of the documentsexplaining why release from CCR hasbeen denied.Records show that neither man hascommitted any serious disciplinaryinfractions for decades and prison mentalhealth records indicate that the men poseno threat to themselves or to others.

USA: 100 YEARS IN SOLITARYTHE ‘ANGOLA 3’ AND THEIR FIGHT FOR JUSTICEPrison review boards have ticked the sameboxes on more than 150 review forms overthe years, denying both men their right to ameaningful review of their continued isolation. Amnesty InternationalHowever, none of this appears to meritconsideration in the view of the prisonWarden who in 2006 said of HermanWallace: “his record doesn’t reallymatter a lot. The original sentence, that’swhy he’s there, that’s why he’s there andthat’s why he’s going to stay there”.Amnesty International believes that themen’s continued classification as CCRinmates serves no legitimate penalpurpose. Under the direction of WardenCain, who has dismissed the men’s cleandisciplinary record as irrelevant, the reviewboard has effectively ignored Louisianaprison policies for 15 years. It has failedabsolutely to provide a meaningfulreview of the men’s continued isolation.By simply rubberstamping the originaldecision to confine the men in CCR,Index: AMR 51/041/2011successive prison review boards havesubjected Albert Woodfox and HermanWallace over the course of decades toconditions that can only be described ascruel, inhuman and degrading.Amnesty International June 20119

10 USA: 100 YEARS IN SOLITARYTHE ‘ANGOLA 3’ AND THEIR FIGHT FOR JUSTICELEgAL ChALLENgEUnder US law, state prisoners held in cruelconditions can challenge their conditions infederal courts by alleging that there hasbeen a violation of the Eighth Amendmentto the US Constitution prohibiting cruel andunusual punishment.In 2000, the American Civil Liberties Unionof Louisiana filed such a lawsuit on behalfof Albert Woodfox, Herman Wallace andRobert King. The lawsuit alleges thatthe decades of confinement in extendedlockdown have deprived the men of atleast the following four basic humanneeds: exercise; sleep; social contactand environmental stimulation. The suitalso argues that the men are being heldin lockdown for their political beliefsin violation of the First and FourteenthAmendments to the Constitution.The case was brought in order to endthe decades of extended lockdown forAlbert Woodfox and Herman Wallace, toobtain damages for all three men, andto help others in the US prison systemin similar situations.During legal proceedings in 2007, theMagistrate Judge presiding over the civilrights case brought by the men, describedtheir time in solitary as: “Durations so farbeyond the pale” she could not find “anythingeven remotely comparable in the annals ofAmerican jurisprudence.”was sufficient evidence to establish thattheir conditions of confinement didconstitute a deprivation of a basic humanneed. The Judge also ruled that prisonofficials should have been aware that thelack of exercise, social isolation, lack ofenvironmental stimulation and otherdeprivations could be seriously harmful tothe men’s physical and mental health.Following this ruling, and with a view tosettling the case, Albert Woodfox andHerman Wallace’s lawyers begannegotiations with the prison authorities fora system to be put in place – predicated ongood behaviour – that would allow the mento be moved out of solitary confinement andinto the general prison population.In March 2008, an experimental dormitorywas set up by Angola prison to house15 men from CCR, including Albert Woodfoxand Herman Wallace. The premise of thedormitory was to determine whether theindividuals involved could function in agroup environment. If they were successful,they were to be allowed into the generalprison population. If not, they would bereturned to lockdown.In August 2007, a Magistrate Judge ruled inthe men’s favour, and determined that thereThe dormitory was set up less than aweek after the Chair of the US House ofRepresentatives Committee on the Judiciary,John Conyers Jr, travelled to Angola tomeet the men. He released a statementexpressing concern that they may beinnocent and noted that they had been inisolation for “possibly a longer period thanany other inmate in U.S. history.”Amnesty International June 2011Index: AMR 51/041/2011While the dormitory provided the menwith the opportunity to interact with oneanother, they remained isolated from therest of the prison. No provisions weremade to enable the men to occupythemselves. They were promised a garden,but given no tools for gardening. Theywere promised recreation, but given noweights or equipment. Eventually, aftersix months of negotiations by lawyers,hobby craft was allowed.Despite these shortcomings, the dormitoryfunctioned without incident for eightmonths. However, shortly after AlbertWoodfox’s conviction for murder wasoverturned in October 2008, he was removedfrom the dormitory and returned to 23-hoursolitary confinement. According to hislawyer, the reason for the removal wasbased on charges of making improperphone calls. Herman Wallace too wasremoved from the dormitory for similarreasons and placed in lockdown undersevere restrictions. The charges againstboth men were later dropped.The experimental dormitory was closedin February/March 2009.The civil rights lawsuit, which prior tothe setting up of the dormitory was closeto being settled, is now set to go to trialin 2011.

USA: 100 YEARS IN SOLITARYTHE ‘ANGOLA 3’ AND THEIR FIGHT FOR JUSTICE11 Nicola Krebill (http://n.krebill.org)ThE STRUggLE fOR JUSTICEAs Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallaceapproach their 40th year of isolation,Amnesty International is once again callingon the Louisiana authorities to end thecruel, inhuman and degrading conditions inwhich they are held by immediately removingthe men from solitary confinement.Amnesty International believes that theconditions in which the two men are held,including the length of time they have spentin isolation, violate international humanrights treaties to which the USA is a party.The USA has an obligation underinternational standards to ensure that allprisoners, regardless of their background,are treated humanely and that any securitymeasures that may be necessary conformto this requirement. The prolonged andindefinite isolation of Albert Woodfox andHerman Wallace without meaningful reviewruns directly counter to this obligation.The USA has ratified the InternationalCovenant on Civil and Political Rights, andthe UN Convention against Torture andOther Cruel, Inhuman or DegradingTreatment or Punishment, both of whichprohibit torture and other ill-treatment.The relevant treaty monitoring bodies(the Human Rights Committee and theCommittee against Torture) have foundthat prolonged solitary confinement canamount to torture or other cruel, inhumanor degrading treatment. Both bodieshave expressed concern that the harshconditions of long-term isolation in someUS segregation facilities are incompatiblewith the USA’s treaty obligations. AmnestyInternational believes their findings areparticularly significant in the case of AlbertWoodfox and Herman Wallace given thatfew, if any, other prisoners have spent solong in solitary confinement in recent times.Their treatment also contravenes theUN Standard Minimum Rules for theTreatment of Prisoners. These and otherrelevant standards emphasize theimportance of providing work andeducational, recreational, religious andcultural activities for prisoners’ mental andphysical wellbeing, as well as to prepareindividuals for reintegration into society.Index: AMR 51/041/2011Campaigners demanding justice for theAngola 3, January 2009, New Orleans.“I do believe that thereis something that canbe done and a pro-activeposition in the case canhelp The ripples inthe pond are increasingand we need to seesome waves and theseare the things thatkeep me going. I cansee the waves comingfrom the ripples.”Robert King, 2011Amnesty International June 2011

12 USA: 100 YEARS IN SOLITARYTHE ‘ANGOLA 3’ AND THEIR FIGHT FOR JUSTICE The Mob Film Company Ltd 2009ACT NOwPlease write, urging the US stateauthorities to remove Albert Woodfox andHerman Wallace from solitary confinementimmediately and bring an end to the yearsof cruel, inhuman and degrading treatmentthat they have suffered.Please also write to the US AttorneyGeneral, expressing concern that thedecades of isolation and cellularconfinement under which the two prisonerscontinue to be held in the Louisiana prisonsystem – and the lack of any meaningfulreview process – constitutes cruel,inhuman and degrading treatment, inviolation of international standards.Urge the Attorney General, in thecontinued absence of an effective state Amnesty Internationalremedy, to take action to ensure that theirtreatment complies with the USA’sobligations under international standardsand the US Constitution.PLEASE wRITE TO:Governor Bobby JindalOffice of the GovernorPO Box 94994Baton RougeLA 70804USAAttorney General Eric HolderU.S. Dep

Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were convicted of the murder in 1972 of prison guard Brent Miller. They were placed in isolation together with a third man, Robert King, who was accused of a different crime. Robert King was released in 2001 after serving 29 years in solitary. Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox remain in solitary confinement in .

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