Amnesty International USA: Woodfox’s Release Long Overdue
The human rights organization described today’s settlement as “long overdue and undeniably just”
MEDIA CONTACT: Mandy Simon, firstname.lastname@example.org
(WASHINGTON, DC) —Today, the last imprisoned member of the Angola 3, Albert Woodfox, was released after more than four decades in solitary confinement. In response, Jasmine Heiss, Senior Campaigner at Amnesty International USA’s Individuals and Risk Campaign, issued the following statement:
“After four decades of isolation, Albert Woodfox’s release is 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 this belated measure of justice, on Woodfox’s 69th birthday, is something he has 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.
“Today 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.”
Over the course of the last five years, Amnesty International’s global movement has generated more than 650,000 actions on behalf of the Angola 3. UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez decried the indefinite solitary confinement imposed on Woodfox, saying that it “clearly amounts to torture and it should be lifted immediately.”
Prior to today’s settlement, 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.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning global movement of more than 7 million people campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
From an email I received from Amnesty International USA: With the knowledge of his release, Albert had this message for those who have helped him secure his freedom:
I want to thank my brother Michael 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. 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.