On February 19 2016, Albert Woodfox, the last imprisoned member of the Angola 3, was released after more than four decades in solitary confinement.
Albert Woodfox’s release was long overdue and undeniably just. Nothing will truly repair the cruel, inhuman and degrading solitary confinement that the state of Louisiana inflicted upon him. But the belated measure of justice, that came on Woodfox’s 69th birthday, was something he had been seeking for more than half his life.
Amnesty International USA joins his supporters around the world in celebrating Woodfox and his legal team’s tireless pursuit of justice. While the State of Louisiana did not release Woodfox’s fellow Angola 3 prisoner Herman Wallace until he was on death’s door, it has made a just and humane decision in ensuring Woodfox’s freedom. Robert King and Herman Wallace, two other prisoners that make up the so-called “Angola 3,” were also convicted of this murder. King’s conviction was overturned in 2001, and he was released after 29 years of isolation. Wallace was released in 2013, shortly before his death.
Throughout his prolonged incarceration in Closed Cell Restriction (CCR) Woodfox endured very restrictive conditions, including periods of 23 hour cell confinement. His release should also mark a pivotal new chapter in reforming the use of prolonged solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails.Moving forward, Woodfox’s case must serve as a tragic reminder of the cruelty inflicted by the prison system at its most extreme. Louisiana must commit to making urgent reforms to solitary confinement, and chart a course toward doing its part in ending the overall crisis of mass incarceration
Prior to the settlement on February 19, 2016, Woodfox’s conviction had been overturned three times. On June 8, 2015, Federal Judge James Brady granted Woodfox unconditional release and barred the state from retrying him. However, Judge Brady’s ruling was overturned on appeal.