Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Angola 3" Member to Be Released On Bail After 37 Years




Tuesday, November 25, 2008

202.302.6920 /


"Angola 3" Member to Be Released On Bail After 37 Years


Conviction Overturned, Judge Rules Albert Woodfox Must be Free During

Appeals or Re-trial


Lawyers: Ruling Brings Hope for Remaining Prisoner, Also Spent 36

Years in Solitary for Guard's Murder


Albert Woodfox, who has spent 37 years in prison at Angola

Penitentiary, must be released on bail, according to a ruling issued

today by United States District Judge James Brady.  On September 25th,

Judge Brady overturned Woodfox's conviction for the 1972 murder of

prison guard Brent Miller. Though the State has announced its

intention to appeal that decision, until such an appeal is successful,

according to today's ruling, there is no conviction on which to hold Woodfox.


In his decision, Judge Brady wrote:

"[Woodfox] is a frail, sickly, middle aged man who has had an

exemplary conduct record for over the last twenty years. At the

hearing before this Court on October 14, 2008, testimony was adduced

that if released Mr. Woodfox would live with his niece and her family

in a gated subdivision in Slidell, Louisiana. Mr. Woodfox has

withdrawn that request because of fear of harm to his niece and her

family by members... This change was brought about by counsel

representing the State of Louisiana contacting the subdivision home

owners association and providing them with information regarding Mr.

Woodfox. The Court is not totally privy to what information was given

to the association but from the documents filed it is apparent that

the association was not told Mr. Woodfox is frail, sickly, and has had

a clean conduct record for more than twenty years…this Court GRANTS

Mr. Woodfox's motion for release pending the State's appeal."


Herman Wallace, who was also convicted in the murder, remains in

prison at Angola.  He has an appeal pending with the Supreme Court of

Louisiana, which is similar in content to Woodfox's successful

appeal.  The two men were wrongly convicted based largely on the

testimony of a fellow prisoner, Hezekiah Brown, a serial rapist who

was promised and received a pardon in exchange for his testimony

against them. Brown was the sole professed eyewitness to the murder,

and none of the physical evidence put Herman or Albert at the crime scene.


Woodfox's legal team is now working with the court to reach an

agreement on a suitable release location and plan for Woodfox; once

they agree to a plan, Woodfox will be able to leave Angola. The

lawyers anticipate the process to take several more days.


Woodfox and Wallace were each held in solitary confinement from the

time of the murder until last March, after a federal court concluded

that their suit alleging that such confinement for three decades

constitutes cruel and unusual punishment could go forward.  A third

man, Robert King Wilkerson, was held in solitary at Angola at the same

time for a different crime; he was released in 2001 after showing that

he had been wrongfully convicted.  The three are known as the "Angola

3."  All black men, they had been organizing nonviolently for an end

to gang-enforced sex slavery and for better conditions inside the

prison. Angola at the time was known as the "bloodiest prison in the US."


"This is a major victory in a case where justice is long overdue.

Albert went into Angola in his twenties, and he's walking out in his

60s.  There is no conviction against him now, and the state should not

take another day of his life," said Chris Aberle, Woodfox's lawyer.


"In 37 years, Albert never gave up hope that someday he would walk out

the gates of Angola.  We continue to hope that Herman will join him

soon. Neither of these men should have spent a day in Angola for this

crime," said Nick Trenticosta, also a lawyer in the case.


The case has attracted attention on the state and national level.

Last spring, US House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers (D-MI)

visited the men, along with Louisiana House Judiciary Committee Chair

Cedric Richmond (D-101). Richmond has announced his intention to hold

hearings on the case, and Conyers continues to monitor developments.


The state had sought a stay of Judge Brady's ruling ordering a new

trial until the appeal process plays out.  Judge Brady granted that

request. The State must now either win its appeals, or will need to

either release or retry Woodfox within 120 days of the end of its appeals.


Judge Brady held an initial bail hearing on October 14th; he postponed

issuing a decision at that time to allow for additional depositions to

be taken from Angola Warden Burl Cain and from a doctor who had

examined Woodfox and his medical records.  The State has now conducted

both of those depositions.


For a copy of the judgment, to speak with the lawyers, or for any additional information on the case, please contact Emma Mackinnon, or 202 302 6920.




Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at]


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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