BREAKING! Albert Woodfox is Freed TODAY on his 69th Birthday!!

From Angola 3 News:

MEDIA COVERAGE:   UK Guardian  II  Washington Post  II  NBC  II  The Advocate (with new photo)  II Times-Picayune

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(PHOTO: Albert Woodfox following his release just moments ago!! Photo from Democracy Now!)

Take a deep breath everyone,

Just moments ago, Albert Woodfox, the last remaining member of the Angola 3 still behind bars, was released from prison 43 years and 10 months after he was first put in a 6×9 foot solitary cell for a crime he did not commit. After decades of costly litigation, Louisiana State officials have at last acted in the interest of justice and reached an agreement that brings a long overdue end to this nightmare. Albert has maintained his innocence at every step, and today, on his 69th birthday, he will finally begin a new phase of his life as a free man.

In anticipation of his release this morning, Albert thanked his many supporters and added: “Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges.  I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.”

Over the course of the past four decades, Albert’s conviction was overturned three separate times for a host of constitutional violations including prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate defense, racial discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson, and suppression of exculpatory evidence. On June 8th, 2015, Federal Judge James Brady ordered Albert’s immediate release and barred the State from retrying Albert, an extraordinary ruling that he called “the only just remedy.” A divided panel of the 5th Circuit Court of appeals reversed that order in November with the dissenting Judge arguing that “If ever a case justifiably could be considered to present ‘exceptional circumstances’ barring re-prosecution, this is that case.” That ruling was on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court when news of his release broke.

On behalf of the Angola 3 – Albert Woodfox, Robert King, and in memory of Herman Wallace – we would like to sincerely thank all the organizations, activists, artists, legal experts, and other individuals who have so graciously given their time and talent to the Angola 3’s extraordinary struggle for justice. This victory belongs to all of us and should motivate us to stand up and demand even more fervently that long-term solitary confinement be abolished, and all the innocent and wrongfully incarcerated be freed.

For more information about the Angola 3, visit angola3.org.


STATEMENT FROM ALBERT”S LEGAL TEAM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 19, 2016

Contact: Laura Burstein, laura.burstein@squirepb.com, 202-626-6868 (o); 202-669-3411 (c)

Albert Woodfox, Longest-Serving Solitary Confinement Prisoner, to be Freed from Prison After Four Decades

Statements from Albert Woodfox – One of the ‘Angola 3’ – and Attorneys George Kendall and Katherine Kimpel

February 19, 2016, West Feliciana, LA — Albert Woodfox, who spent more time in solitary confinement than any prisoner in U.S. history, will be released this afternoon from custody after more than four decades in the Louisiana prison system. Mr. Woodfox, who turned 69 today, continues to maintain his innocence for the murder that sent him to solitary confinement for more than four decades. He pled no contest to two lesser crimes before being set free.

“I want to thank my brother Michel for sticking with me all these years, and Robert King, who wrongly spent nearly 30 years in solitary.  I could not have survived without their courageous support, along with the support of my dear friend Herman Wallace, who passed away in 2013,” said Mr. Woodfox.  “I also wish to thank the many members of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3, Amnesty International, and the Roddick Foundation, all of whom supported me through this long struggle.   Lastly, I thank William Sothern, Rob McDuff and my lawyers at Squire Patton Boggs and Sanford Heisler Kimpel for never giving up.  Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges.  I hope the events of today will bring closure to many.”

The extreme and cruel solitary confinement endured by Mr. Woodfox and his fellow prisoners, Herman Wallace and Robert King, known as the “Angola 3,” drew international condemnation.  The unnecessary and inhumane use of solitary confinement was particularly stark in light of Mr. Woodfox’s exemplary conduct record for decades.  In fact, in the midst of litigation, the Wardens of both institutions where Mr. Woodfox was held in solitary confinement admitted that he had exemplary conduct records.

“Although we are overjoyed that Albert Woodfox is finally free, it is indefensible he was forced to endure decade after decade in harsh solitary confinement conditions, longer than any prisoner in the history of the United States,” stated George Kendall, attorney with Squire Patton Boggs, LLP.  “Albert survived the extreme and cruel punishment of 40 plus years in solitary confinement only because of his extraordinary strength and character.  These inhumane practices must stop. We hope the Louisiana Department of Corrections will reform and greatly limit its use of solitary confinement as have an increasing number of jurisdictions around the country.”

Mr. Woodfox and Mr. King, along with Mr. Wallace, brought a civil lawsuit in 2000, challenging the constitutionality of the State of Louisiana’s use of indefinite solitary confinement.  Mr. Woodfox and Mr. King confirmed that a primary goal of the ongoing litigation is to help bring light to the fact that there is no penological justification for how the State of Louisiana currently uses solitary confinement and to create incentives for reform.  As Mr. Woodfox explained, “I can now direct all my efforts to ending the barbarous use of solitary confinement and will continue my work on that issue here in the free world.”

Their case, which is pending, is supported by extensive reports from two nationally-recognized corrections experts.  Those most recent experts’ reports, from 2015, are publicly available and include extensive detail about the State system’s failings (http://bit.ly/1PUqjiG; http://bit.ly/1oNAfUv).  As a federal judge wrote, the extreme length of Mr. Wallace’s and Mr. Woodfox’s solitary confinement was “so far beyond the pale that this Court has not found anything even remotely comparable in the annals of American jurisprudence.”  See Wilkerson v. Stalder, No. 00-304 (M.D. La. Feb. 1, 2005) (Doc. No. 105 at 21).

“It is past time for our nation to leave behind its shameful legacy of being one of the only developed countries in the world that still relies so heavily on the outdated and ineffective corrections practice of indefinite solitary confinement,” commented Katherine Kimpel, partner at Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP. “That Albert Woodfox served over four decades in solitary confinement shocks the conscience and is a national embarrassment.  We should take advantage of the growing national consensus regarding corrections reform to ensure that, if our society were to be judged by entering our prisons, we would not be found lacking.”

Attorneys for Mr. Woodfox said he will now be able to receive the medical attention he desperately needs.

If you would like to speak with attorneys for Mr. Woodfox or leading experts on solitary confinement conditions and reform, please contact Laura Burstein or Jamie Moss at Laura.Burstein@Squirepb.com, 202-626-6868 (o), 202-669-3411 (c); or jamie@newspros.com, 201-788-0142.

‘Angola 3’ Case Background

In 1972, Brent Miller, a young, white guard at Angola prison, was killed. At a time when Angola prison was highly racially polarized, investigators eventually honed in on four suspects who were politically active Black Panthers.  Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were two of those men.  No forensic or physical evidence linked Mr. Woodfox or Mr. Wallace to the crime, the fingerprints found at the scene, or the bloody knife found nearby. Several alibi witnesses placed both men in different parts of the prison and away from the scene of the crime at the time of the murder.

Mr. Woodfox was originally convicted in 1973 of the murder solely on the testimony of three inmate witnesses.

However, as Mr. Woodfox learned decades after his original trial, these inmates were provided attractive incentives by the prison officials for their testimony, including promises of improved housing and a pardon.  State officials also suppressed inconsistent statements by these witnesses.

Eventually, Mr. Woodfox’s 1973 conviction was overturned because of discrimination in the selection of the grand jury that indicted him.  He was retried in 1998.  Despite the fact that two of the State’s three inmate witnesses had died, and despite the fact that they never were adequately cross-examined because of evidence hidden by prison officials, their transcripts from the prior trial were admitted into evidence and Mr. Woodfox was again convicted.

After many years of appeals, his 1998 conviction was set aside in later 2014 and he was recharged in 2015.  His lawyers waged a vigorous campaign to exclude from any new trial the prior testimony of the deceased witnesses who never were adequately cross-examined.  However, both the trial judge and the First Circuit Court of Appeal in Louisiana denied those motions, meaning that the prior statements would again be used against Mr. Woodfox at a new trial.

Although Mr. Woodfox and his legal team remained optimistic about the possibility for an acquittal at a new trial, concerns about Mr. Woodfox’s health mounted as he approached his 69th birthday. Mr. Woodfox decided to bring the case to a conclusion with today’s action. His plea of “nolo contendere” or “no contest” to two lesser charges is not an admission of guilt. It means simply that he does not contest that the State would present evidence at a new trial from witnesses who said he committed this crime. Mr. Woodfox continues, as he always has, to maintain his innocence.

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Reportback on Albert Woodfox’s Sept. 2 Oral Arguments at US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

From Angola 3 News:

agola-woodfox-appeal

(PHOTO: A3 supporters outside of the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans this morning at Albert Woodfox’s oral arguments. Big Thanks to everyone that made it out!!)

This morning, Amnesty International USA released the following statement, reprinted in full.

Please check back here for more updates later in the day. See also our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Amnesty International USA Statement on Ongoing Incarceration of Albert Woodfox

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans heard oral argument in Albert Woodfox vs. Burl Cain. A three-judge panel will decide whether Louisiana prisoner Albert Woodfox should be granted unconditional release or face a third trial after spending more than four decades in solitary confinement.

U.S. District Judge James Brady ordered Woodfox’s unconditional release in June, overturning his conviction and barring the state from retrying him. The state of Louisiana appealed the ruling and moved to keep Woodfox behind. Jasmine Heiss, Senior Campaigner for Amnesty International USA’s Individuals at Risk program, attended the oral argument and issued the following statement:

“Today, Albert Woodfox remains doubly trapped — both in solitary confinement and in a deeply flawed legal process that has spanned four decades. Judge Brady’s writ of unconditional release should have been the final chapter in Albert’s 43-year nightmare. Now we can only hope that the courts will finally provide Albert some measure of justice.

“The question remains – why has Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell relentlessly pursued Albert Woodfox? It is time for the Attorney General to act in the name of justice rather than vengeance and stop standing in the way of Albert’s release.”

Angola 3 member Albert Woodfox indicted for 3rd time in 1972 murder of prison guard

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Source

Albert Woodfox, the only member of the Angola 3 still behind bars, was indicted Thursday for the third time in the murder of a Louisiana State Penitentiary prison guard that occurred at the prison more than four decades ago.

Woodfox has been held in solitary confinement for more than 40 years as a result of his former convictions in the 1972 slaying of 23-year-old guard, Brent Miller. Now 67, Woodfox continues to maintain his innocence in the fatal stabbing and has a wide-reaching network of supporters advocating for his release. The indictment comes after a federal appeals court, in a ruling issued Nov. 20, agreed with a lower court that his conviction for Miller’s murder should be vacated.

Woodfox’s legal team earlier this week sought his release from prison on bail in anticipation that the state would try to re-indict him or appeal the latest decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. Louisiana Attorney Buddy Caldwell announced in a press release Thursday a grand jury from West Feliciana Parish, where the prison at Angola is located, re-indicted Woodfox on the murder charge earlier that day.

“The facts of the case remain solid,” Caldwell said in the statement. “Despite Woodfox’s last-ditch efforts to obtain a ‘get out of jail free’ pass on grand jury selection issues, the proof of his guilt in committing the murder is undeniable.”

A three-judge panel from the Fifth Circuit, in its November ruling, unanimously upheld a lower court’s ruling that overturned Woodfox’s conviction. The court agreed with U.S. District Judge James Brady that Woodfox’s 1998 retrial was constitutionally mired by discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson.

Amnesty International, a major human rights organization, has called for Woodfox’s release and has decried conditions of his solitary confinement, which a November editorial in The New York Times called “barbaric beyond measure.” Amnesty International started a petition this week asking Gov. Bobby Jindal not to oppose bail for Woodfox if it’s granted.

Steven Hawkins, the executive director of Amnesty International USA, said in a statement that Caldwell is “hell-bent” on keeping Woodfox behind bars.

“He should stop pursuing a campaign of vengeance by trying to re-indict a man who has already spent more than four decades in cruel confinement, after a legal process tainted with flaws,” the statement says.

Woodfox’s attorney George Kendall released the following statement in response to the indictment:

“We are extremely disappointed in today’s indictment of Albert Woodfox who has maintained his innocence since he was charged 42 years ago. This case has already spanned four decades and cost Louisiana millions of dollars, while Mr. Woodfox has been unjustly held in solitary confinement.”

Woodfox’s designation as a member of the Angola 3 stems from what the group’s supporters believe are wrongful convictions for prison murders in which Woodfox and two other prisoners were implicated for the purpose of silencing their activism. The International Coalition to Free the Angola 3 believes the men essentially became political prisoners for organizing an official Black Panther Party chapter inside the prison, which led hunger strikes and other demonstrations opposing inhumane prison conditions. Those conditions, in the early 1970s, included continued segregation, corruption and “systematic prison rape,” Pegram has said.

Taking the 42-year-old case to trial presents obvious challenges to all parties, but Pegram said Woodfox’s legal team is “not at all scared” of arguing the case in court and feels confident he will prevail.

An affidavit says the murder occurred as Miller was talking with fellow inmate Hezekiah Brown on Brown’s bed when Woodfox and two others pounced on him, leaving Miller with 32 stab wounds.

A year after Brown testified to help secure the convictions, Louisiana State Penitentiary Warden C. Murray Henderson wrote a letter seeking a pardon for Brown, who had served less than eight years of a life sentence, after Brown testified he was not promised favors for his testimony. An NPR report on the case links to the letter here. Prison officials also arranged to pay for his clemency and for a weekly delivery of a carton of cigarettes. Brown was eventually pardoned by Gov. Edwin Edwards in 1986 and died in 1996.

Pegram said there was no physical evidence linking Woodfox to the murder, and all of the witnesses either later recanted or were promised favors such as pardons. Many of the witnesses, too, are dead. A bloody fingerprint taken from the crime scene did not match Woodfox or his co-defendants, she said. That DNA evidence, which could potentially incriminate another suspect, has sine been lost.

“If the state really wants to go down this road, they will be reminded there is no physical evidence that links him to the crime, and witnesses have all been impeached or recanted,” Pegram said. “We are happy to say he will have the opportunity to demonstrate to the world that (Woodfox) did not commit this crime.”

Caldwell noted in his statement two juries have already convicted Woodfox in the murder, and now three grand juries have indicted him. The indictment does not preclude the attorney general from seeking relief from U.S. Supreme Court to get the conviction upheld, Attorney General spokesman Steven Hartman said.

The slain prison guard’s widow, Teenie Rogers, attended a rally in October 2013 with Angola 3 supporters demanding the state halt its attempts to keep Woodfox incarcerated for her late husband’s murder. She has said she believes Woodfox and his codefendant, the late Herman Wallace, were not involved in her husband’s death and has previously called for their release. In 2008, she told The Los Angeles Times, under the last name from a previous marriage: “If I were on that jury, I don’t think I would have convicted them.”

Caldwell’s release also levied a number criminal allegations against Woodfox unrelated to Miller’s murder, which a Feb. 10 affidavit says occurred in the late 1960s in New Orleans.

“Prior to arriving at Angola, Albert Woodfox began committing a series of crimes with escalated from minor offenses to violent crimes, including seven armed robberies and five aggravated rapes,” the attorney general’s statement says.

The release also says he faced five life sentences for the rape charges, however an attached affidavit suggests Woodfox was never convicted on any rape charges.

Moreover, in a 2008 court order from Judge Brady, the judge says, “given how long ago these arrests occurred as well as the fact that Mr. Woodfox was never convicted of these crimes… those allegations were irrelevant to Woodfox’s petition for release.”

The affidavit paints a similar picture of Woodfox as a danger to the public that the state used in 2008 to prevent Woodfox from being granted bail while the appeals process played out. “We will continue to fight to ensure that this dangerous man is held fully accountable for his actions,” Caldwell said Thursday.

Hawkins’ statement criticized Caldwell’s recent accusations against Woodfox regarding the rapes.

“(Caldwell’s) public accusations that Albert is a ‘serial rapist’ not only cross ethical boundaries, but inflame the public against a man who has suffered unspeakable cruelty at the hands of the Louisiana authorities,” Hawkins said.

Wallace, a fellow Angola 3 member, was released in October of 2013, two days before his death from complications of liver cancer.

Robert King, the third member of the Angola 3 who was convicted of killing a fellow inmate, was exonerated and released from prison in 2001 after 29 years in solitary. King remains active in the campaign to release Woodfox from prison and end the practice of solitary confinement.

Woodfox’s 1974 murder conviction was first overturned in 1992 by a state court due to “systematic discrimination.” He was then re-indicted in 1993 by a new grand jury and reconvicted five years later.

But District Judge Brady overturned this second conviction in 2008, stating Woodfox’s defense counsel was ineffective. The state appealed, and the case made its way for the first time to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Once there, the court reversed Brady’s ruling and determined that while his trial “was not perfect,” Woodfox couldn’t prove there would have been a different outcome with different counsel.

Woodfox’s attorneys then focused in on the discrimination issue, arguing there were also issues with the 1993 indictment because black grand jury foreman were woefully underrepresented in West Feliciana Parish in the previous 13 years.

Brady again agreed, overturning Woodfox’s conviction a second time in May 2012. The case was kicked up to the Fifth Circuit after the state appealed. The Fifth Circuit agreed, in the Nov. 20 ruling, that conviction should be overturned. The same court then denied, in a Feb. 3 ruling, the state’s request for a review of its decision by the Fifth Circuit’s full panel of judges.

Woodfox, of New Orleans, was originally sentenced to prison at Angola on charges of armed robbery. That sentence would have expired decades ago, coalition manager Tory Pegram said. Woodfox was at Angola only a few years before he was implicated, along with Wallace, in Miller’s murder. He’s currently housed at David Wade Correctional Center in Homer.

Albert Woodfox Applies for Bail With Expedited Review

A3 Newsletter:
albert-carrieThis afternoon Albert Woodfox’s legal team submitted an application to US District Court Judge James A. Brady for release on bail with expedited review (View the court filing here).

This month marks 2 years since Albert’s conviction was overturned for a third time based on a finding of racial discrimination in the selection of his grand jury foreperson, a decision now firmly upheld by a unanimous panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Though the Attorney General may continue to stand in the way of justice and appeal yet again to the US Supreme Court and/or attempt to retry him, Albert’s attorneys argue that there is no legal or moral justification to hold him in prison any longer, nor any reason to believe the State of Louisiana could succeed in reconvicting him in a fair proceeding.

In a moving petition, they detail not just the legal underpinnings of freeing those wrongfully convicted, but also the deeply flawed legal processes that have resulted in this innocent man spending an unconscionable 4 decades in a solitary cell. As they point out, “the State has now had not just one but two chances to convict Mr. Woodfox at a trial that passes constitutional muster, and failed.”

The application reminds the Court that the State itself during the appeals process admitted that if Albert were to prevail “re-trying him for a crime that occurred more than 40 years ago…may render retrial difficult, even impossible.”

But regardless of whether the State elects to retry Albert or not, as another federal district court concluded, “[T]he liberty interest of an improperly convicted prisoner is stronger than any injury that may be caused to the [State] in releasing petitioner from custody pending retrial.”). Indeed, a prisoner, “suffers irreparable harm each day that he is imprisoned in violation of the United States Constitution.”

Certainly the reality of Albert’s grossly inhumane conditions of confinement only make this harm more egregious and the urgency for release more compelling.

An expedited hearing date of Monday, February 23rd has been requested. We will let you know as soon as we hear anything from the Court.

Free Albert Woodfox! US Black political prisoner struggles against 42 years of isolation

Samidoun:

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Albert Woodfox, one of the “Angola Three,” three Black political prisoners in US jails, whose conviction has been overturned three times, is continuing to struggle today for his freedom. On February 3, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request for a rehearing to the state of Louisiana, affirming the overturn of his conviction for murder.

Woodfox and his comrade Herman Wallace, Black Panthers who built a chapter of the party inside the notorious prison, a former slave plantation rife with corruption, segregation and horrific racist abuse, were accused of killing a prison guard in 1973, despite the fact that no physical evidence lined them to the murder and potentially exculpatory DNA evidence was lost by the state, and the witnesses who testified against them later retracted their statement. He has been held for over 40 years in solitary confinement, including 23 hours a day confined in his cell, lack of access to exercise, work, or education; he has been denied review of his isolation and is 67 years old today.

Herman Wallace died in 2013, free for only three days after 41 years in solitary confinement after his own conviction was overturned, and the third member of the Angola Three, Robert King, was released in 2001. The campaign to free Albert Woodfox – and end long-term solitary confinement – is supported by Amnesty International and numerous human rights organizations.

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Coup Pour Coup 31, an anti-imperialist collective in Toulouse, France, is organizing a campaign to free Albert Woodfox, noting that “his life bears witness to the popular and political struggle for self-defense and liberation of the African American community, denouncing all of the realities of racial and economic oppression of African American people: from neighbourhoods to prisons, from the slave trade to the industrial slavery of prison labor, from cultural and mental alienation to institutional destruction. It is the political strength of the resistance and the legacy of revolutionary fighters that has sustained Albert Woodfox through 42 years of isolation, and must also encourage the international campaign of solidarity for his release and against the racist system of oppression of US prisons.”

Coup Pour Coup is fundraising and holding events to support the case: learn more here: http://www.couppourcoup31.com/2015/02/campaign-for-the-release-of-albert-woodfox.html

Write to Albert Woodfox and send your support to:

Albert Woodfox #72148
David Wade Correctional Center
670 Bell Hill Road
Homer, LA 71040

A3 Newsletter December 9th, 2014: Give Albert a Hug for the Holidays

http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=190a0f59-ee25-4678-9ebf-f4d027b35eee&c=ddd0f320-356e-11e3-9e24-d4ae52754dbc&ch=de9861d0-356e-11e3-9eba-d4ae52754dbc

albertIn Homer Louisiana, Albert Woodfox remains in his cell – 42 years in solitary and held under increasingly severe restrictions. From the unnecessary and extensive use of the black-box during transport, to the ‘catch-22’ system making it impossible for Albert to have contact visits, it appears that the response to his most recent court victory is to continue turning the screws ever tighter.

Not surprisingly, the Louisiana Attorney General has filed an appeal with the Fifth Circuit Court asking them to review their recent ruling that upheld a lower court’s 2013 overturning of Albert’s conviction. We anticipate a response from the Fifth Circuit in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, want to register our concern with the Louisiana Department of Corrections about the recent denial of contact visits to Albert, as explained further in the section below. We hope you’ll join us in contacting the Department of Corrections to request that they apply their visitation policy fairly.

RECENT MEDIA COVERAGE: Times Picayune (1 , 2 , 3 , 4  II The Advocate II Democracy Now! (watch part two II The Guardian II Solitary Watch II Amnesty USA II Amnesty International II Telegraph UK II National Public Radio II ABA Journal II Reuters II NY Times: 4 decades of solitary//is “barbaric beyond measure”

 

Louisiana DOC Violates Own Policy to Wrongfully Deny Albert Contact Visits

Albert Woodfox, the last of the Angola 3 behind bars, has now been denied contact visits for almost two consecutive years.  During the latter part of his nearly 40 years at Angola, and for the first few at David Wade Correctional Center in Northern Louisiana where he has been held since 2010, Albert was allowed contact visits on occasion with people on his approved visiting list, as well as less frequent ones with “special visitors” pre-approved in advance on an individual one time basis.

Only months after Albert’s conviction was overturned a third time, Wade officials cut off all contact visits without explanation.  After pressure from Albert to reinstate the visits, the South Compound Supervisor Colonel Lonnie Nail, who oversees visiting at the prison, has agreed to allow the visits again, but only if Albert and others in CCR comply with the irregular and essentially impossible task of providing a list of who is coming for a contact visit on a particular day so that the Colonel can personally re-screen and re-approve the visitors, a process that is not only onerous but in violation of the Louisiana DOC’s own Visitation policy.

In the past, at times when contact visits were more generally allowed, Albert was allowed 2 full days per month for contact visits with anyone on his permanent visiting list (up to 5 at one time), without having to supply the exact date of future visits and certainly without additional screening of pre-approved visitors.

Visiting is not a right for prisoners, especially those in CCR.  In Louisiana, some of the details of visiting are left to the discretion of each institution, but statewide there is a detailed visitation policy which among other rights, allows all inmates to put up to 10 people on a “permanent” visiting list.  In order to receive a permanent slot, visitors must first pass extensive screening and background checks conducted by both the Louisiana Department of Corrections and the institution where the inmate is housed, as well as followup checks every two years.

As long as inmates have not had their privileges revoked for a specific institution-wide security concern, the pre-approved visitors on each inmate’s list can then arrive on any visiting day and have a contact visit with the prisoner.

Albert has repeatedly told Colonel Nail that it is impossible for him to know who is coming to visit him on any given visiting day given his lack of real time contact with the outside world, and he strongly believes that people on his permanent visiting list should not have to be re-subjected to an additional round of screening before each visit after already having been extensively vetted.  The DOC’s own visitation policy backs him up.

Based upon his own experience of spending 29 years in solitary confinement, Robert explains that the significance for Albert and all prisoners of having access to contact visits cannot be overstated. “I know how important they were for me. I went for a while without contact visits, but as I began receiving letters from supporters and eventually began to have contact visits, it was really uplifting for me and it freed my humanity. Contact visits were therapeutic and helped to combat the overwhelming sense of isolation. It means so much when you can embrace someone you love and have been separated from.”

 

TAKE ACTION – Operation “Give Albert a Hug for the Holidays”

Please take a moment today to remind the State that they can’t just continue to torture Albert and violate their own policies on our watch.  Print out this letter, sign and fax or mail to the Secretary of Corrections Jimmy LeBlanc and help us give Albert the gift of a hug from his loved ones this holiday season.

A sample letter is below:

Mr. James M. LeBlanc, Secretary
Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections
P.O. Box 94304
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9304
Phone: 225-342-6740; Fax: 225-342-3095

Dear Secretary LeBlanc:

Since the summer of 2013, Colonel Lonnie Nail and officials at David Wade Correctional Center have been arbitrarily denying contact visits to Albert Woodfox (DOC # 72148) in clear violation of multiple sections of DOC policy C-02-008:

1. Requiring Albert to provide names of people already on his
pre-approved and pre-screened permanent visiting list for selective,
additional screening before each visit violates *section 9.B.* of
the DOC’s visitation policy which provides that after the initial
approval process, rescreening is required only every 2 years by the
DOC, and only by one of 4 approved criminal history background check
methods–not on demand, subjectively before each visit by individual
institutions using possibly non-standardized, and certainly
non-transparent, methods.

1. Though section 12.F.7.b. stipulates that inmates housed in
segregation units shall be placed on non-contact visitation status,
*section 12.F.7.d.* requires that such a status be formally reviewed
at least every six months and never imposed as a “disciplinary
penalty.” Albert Woodfox has been in segregation nearly continuously
since 1972 and never had a formal review of his contact visit status
either upon initial placement, or since the twice monthly contact
visit days he’d come to expect were taken away nearly 18 months
ago–a systematic and ongoing violation of his due process rights
and this DOC regulation.

1. Finally, since inmates with the same security classification and
housing assignment in other parts of the State are currently allowed
(and Albert himself was permitted for years) to have 2 days of
contact visiting per month for any of the 10 members of their
permanent visiting lists (up to 5 visitors at one time), the new
screening process put in place by Colonel Nail at DWCC is in clear
violation of Albert’s rights, Albert’s visitor’s rights, and lies
contrary to very heart of the DOC’s visitation policy, *section 7:
Treatment of Visitors* which stipulates that: “/There shall be no
discrimination in visiting. All visitors and offenders shall be
provided equal opportunities in visiting in accordance with the
offender’s security classification and housing assignment./”

Though we are aware that visiting in a privilege, not a right, the restrictions imposed upon Albert Woodfox by officials at David Wade Correctional Center in the last few years violate the individual privacy and Louisiana DOC visitor rights of members of Albert’s permanent visiting list, as well as Albert’s due process rights and his right per the DOC’s own visitation policy to be provided equal opportunity to access contact visits as other Louisiana inmates in segregation.

We urge the Department of Corrections to put a stop to this discriminatory treatment immediately and reinstate 2 full days per month of contact visit privileges for any members of Albert’s approved visiting list (up to 5 at a time) as has historically been and, in other DOC facilities is currently, the SOP for segregation contact visits throughout the state.

Sincerely,

(YOUR NAME)

 

Holiday Reminder: Send Love to Albert, but not CDs or Stamps

Writing Albert to remind him that he’s in your thoughts and that he is not alone is as important as ever at this critical time for him.

As the Holidays approach, we want to remind supporters that he is not allowed to receive stamps or cds.  Cards and messages are always the best gift, but if you want to send more, the best way is to give some funds to his www.jpay.com account (#00072148) so he can buy stamps, cds or other personal items from the prison store. He can also receive any books, hardback or paperback, as long as they are sent to him directly through Amazon.

Through jpay, he can receive emails, although any photos sent will be black and white. If you send an email, jpay will ask if you want to pay extra for him to have money to respond via email. However, Albert is unfortunately not allowed to send email, so do not choose this option.

Albert Woodfox  #72148
David Wade Correctional Center
670 Bell Hill Road
Homer, LA  71040

Saturday, Denver: Remember Herman, Fight for Albert, documentary film screening for the Angola 3

landofthefreePlease join the Denver Anarchist Black Cross at the Blair-Caldwell Research Library on Sat 10/12 starting at 2pm for a movie showing and discussion afterwards.

Saturday October 12, 2pm
Blair-Caldwell Research Library, 2401 Welton Street, Denver

In the Land of the Free… narrated by Samuel L. Jackson

“Tells the shocking and unbelievable story of Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox and Robert King, three black men from rural Louisiana who were held in solitary confinement in the biggest prison in the U.S., an 18,000-acre former slave plantation known as Angola. Woodfox and Wallace, founding members of the first prison chapter of the Black Panther Party, worked along with King to speak out against the inhumane treatment and racial segregation in the prison. King was released in 2001 after almost thirty years of solitary confinement. Woodfox and Wallace, convicted in the highly contested stabbing death of white prison guard Brent Miller, remain in Angola where they have spent more than thirty-six years in solitary confinement. Made aware of their plight, Congressman John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, visited Wallace and Woodfox in prison in March 2008. This documentary tells the ongoing story of the case of these three extraordinary men.”

Herman Wallace was released last week, only to fatally succumb to his battle with liver cancer after a mere 3 days of freedom. Please join us to honor Herman, and discuss local efforts to ensure the freedom of his co-defendant and final imprisoned member of the Angola 3, Albert Woodfox.

If you can’t attend and would like to help us to support Albert Woodfox and other prisoners, please donate here if you can! Any amount helps… https://www.wepay.com/donations/denver-anarchist-black-cross