|Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace|
Two men, likely to be innocent, have been locked up in solitary confinement in the infamous Angola prison in Louisiana for 40 years.
On Tuesday 17 April, it will be exactly 40 years since the men were first placed in solitary confinement. Amnesty International is marking the date by handing in a petition to the Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, calling on him to end their ordeal.
In 1972, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace entered the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola in their twenties, convicted of the murder of a prison guard. Now in their sixties and in poor health, they are still in solitary confinement.
Each man spends 23 hours of every day in a cell measuring 2m by 3m. That’s about five steps long and three steps wide. The only view is of a small space beyond the prison bars. In good weather, they are allowed a solitary hour in an outdoor cage three times a week.
They have limited access to books and no opportunities for work or education. Social interaction is restricted to the occasional visit and limited phone calls. After living in these conditions for most of their lives, both Woodfox and Wallace suffer from serious health problems including osteoarthritis aggravated by lack of exercise, and functional impairment.
The men were convicted in 1972 of the murder of a prison guard, Brent Miller. No physical evidence links either to the crime and DNA evidence which may have cleared them has been lost. Over the years, documents have emerged suggesting the main eyewitness was bribed by prison guards.
The Louisiana prison review board has rubberstamped their ongoing isolation on 150 separate occasions, always citing the ‘nature of the original reason for lockdown’. By denying them any meaningful review of their isolation, the prison authorities have actually breached their own policies.
"If they did not do this – and I believe that they didn’t – they have been living a nightmare!" said Teenie Verret, widow of Brent Miller, in 2008.
Woodfox and Wallace believe their isolation (along with a third man, Robert King, incarcerated for separate crimes) was because of their political activism, and membership of the Black Panther Party. Collectively, Woodford, Wallace and King are known as the Angola 3.
King was released after 29 years of solitary confinement in 2011. The three men continue to campaign for justice, and recognition of the cruelty and illegality of their treatment in solitary confinement. You can read more about the Angola 3 here.
Please, sign Amnesty’s petition to end their cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment