12.23.2008

Member of Angola 3 denied freedom once again

Written By Jesse Muhammad

For nearly forty years, Albert Woodfox, of the Angola 3 has been an inmate at the Louisiana State Penitentiary. He and others thought his release would occur before the new year is ushered in, but that optimism was impeded when the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided to hold him until early Spring.

“We are undoubtedly disappointed by this decision”, said Robert Hillary King to The Final Call. “The biggest disappointment is that Albert was looking forward to being released. I guess the lies being told and the defamation of character by the Attorney General was enough to convince the 5th Circuit. This is wrong but we won’t stop working.”

Mr. King makes up another third of the Angola 3 and was freed in 2001 after serving 29 years in solitary confinement.

The 61-year-old Mr. Woodfox, a former member of the Black Panther Party, will remain in Angola while a federal appellate panel decides whether he should be free pending his third trial for his alleged involvement in the 1972 murder of a prison guard. Oral arguments is scheduled to be heard by the panel in March.

“What is being done to the Angola 3, has been going for years to our people”, said Parnell Herbert, an Angola 3 advocate as well as founder of the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond.

”The taxpayers of Louisiana do not pay for the attorney general to pursue personal vendettas but to do his job justly. But he (attorney general) has made this a personal mission to keep Albert locked. It’s corrupted and we need a change”, said Mr. Herbert to The Final Call.

In November, Baton Rouge-based U.S. District Judge James J. Brady overturned Mr. Woodfox's conviction and ruled he should be released from the prison gates until the next trial took place.

That was brought to a halt when Louisiana Attorney General James Caldwell appealed to the 5th Circuit, on the premise that Mr. Woodfox could be a threat to society because he was never prosecuted on other robbery charges that were ascribed to him prior to the stabbing of 23-year-old prison guard Brent Miller. The Angola 3 and their supporters contend that they were all framed based upon revolutionary activities with the Panthers inside the prison walls.

“We hope that the State will stop playing these games and Albert will be freed”, said Mr. King to The Final Call. “We as a people have to be a little more proactive, instead of reactive. So we’re going to keep looking to see what we can do.”

Inmate Herman Wallace rounds out the Angola 3 and is serving time for his alleged involvement in the ’72 stabbing as well. All three have a pending civil suit Wilkerson, Wallace and Woodfox' vs. the State of Louisiana which the United States Supreme Court ruled has merit to proceed to trial based on the fact that their 30+ years in solitary confinement is "inhumane and unconstitutional."

According to Mr. King the trial of the civil suit is set to take place some time next year.