Please join us on the morning of Wednesday, October 29th, at the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit (600 Camp St.) in New Orleans for oral arguments about whether or not to uphold Judge Brady’s January 2014 ruling that put an end to the invasive, dehumanizing strip and cavity searches Albert had been tortured by since May of 2013.
As you may remember, this is the second of two outstanding appeals of rulings in A3’s favor that have frozen progress towards the final trial prep stages of the decade long A3 civil case, which seeks to establish long term solitary as the unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment the A3 know it to be.
The cruel and rather perplexing irony of this corner of the civil case is that it was a lawsuit that Albert himself filed and won in 1978 that put an end to the demeaning practice for decades, until two months after his conviction was overturned for a 3rd time. It was then that prison officials at David Wade Correctional Center, where he is currently being held, inexplicably began to again routinely strip and cavity search Albert every time he left or entered his cell, even if he was shackled and had no contact with anyone besides prison officials.
In his ruling, Judge Brady found that these frequent, routine searches were not shown to be “necessary” or “justified” for security as is required constitutionally of such policies, and therefore “Woodfox’s human dignity [as] protected by his Fourth Amendment rights” outweighed any “legitimate penological interest.” The State disagrees and is fighting to reinstate the searches.
If you are in town and able to attend, the proceedings are open to the public. Doors open at 8am and court convenes at 9am in the West Courtroom, room 265. Although listed second on the schedule for the morning, there is no telling the exact time our case will begin, so it is better to arrive early, but be prepared to potentially stay all morning. Arguments themselves are expected to be very short–30 minutes or less per side. Seating is limited, and formal dress and conduct are both required and strictly enforced by Federal Marshals.
For those unable to attend, the hearing will be recorded by the Court and we will circulate a link to the proceedings as it becomes available.
13 Days in the Dungeon – Albert’s New Civil Suit
Last week Albert filed another civil action, separate from the larger A3 civil suit, seeking to hold the Louisiana DOC and prison officials at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center (which you may remember as the prison where Herman spent his last years) to account for the 13 harrowing days he spent in the dungeon there before, during, and after his May 2012 habeas hearing in Baton Rouge.
Officials ignored all transfer, classification, and disciplinary procedures required to justify such a harsh placement, and put Albert in the dungeon shortly after he arrived for the 3 day hearing that months later would result in his conviction being overturned for a 3rd time. When Albert objected to the punitive placement without due process or review, he was told: “this decision comes from higher up.”
Albert’s complaint details multiple egregious violations of his 1st, 8th, and 14th Amendment during his stay at Hunt. In addition to denying him access to yard time, TV, phone, visits, canteen, and confiscating the basic clothes and hygiene products he was allowed to bring with him; Albert was served inedible food, including at least one meal served still frozen in a block of ice, and forced to wear leg shackles without socks which caused severe cuts and bruises on his ankles that took months to heal. Most importantly the harsh conditions, extreme heat, and continuous screaming and moaning from other inmates tortured by their punishment in dungeon cells nearby, prevented Albert from participating fully in the hearing that would determine his freedom, resulting in significant mental and emotional anguish on top of the very real physical suffering he endured.
We will keep you updated as this important new challenge moves along through the courts.
Albert Woodfox #72148
David Wade Correctional Center
670 Bell Hill Road
Homer, LA 71040
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