Albert Woodfox, the last remaining jailed member of the Angola 3, pleaded no contest to manslaughter in the 1972 killing of a prison guard, soon ending a long incarceration that became an global cause because of his decades spent in solitary confinement.
An American inmate held for decades in solitary confinement was released Friday after pleading no contest to manslaughter and a lesser offence in the 1972 death of a prison guard. In June, a federal judge agreed, ordering that Mr. Woodfox be unconditionally released and barring the state from taking him to trial for a third time on the same charge.
The last of a group of Louisiana prisoners known as the “Angola” 3 is set to be released Friday.
Woodfox – who was originally imprisoned on an armed robbery conviction – has said he had tried to point out injustices at the prison, including instances of segregation, corruption and rape, and was targeted and wrongfully accused because of his activism as a Black Panther.
Woodfox had always declared his innocence in the slaying of Miller, a prison guard stabbed 32 times with a knife and a lawnmower blade.
Woodfox was twice convicted of killing Miller, but both cases – in 1973 and in 1998 -were overturned after judges determined there were problems with how the selection of the grand juries.
His defense attorney, though, emphasized Friday that the no contest plea does not represent an admission of guilt.
“I hope you understand that I’ve been through a bad ordeal and I need a little time to get my footing so I don’t make a fool of myself”, he said.
In this Feb 12, 2015 file image made from video and released by WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge, Albert Woodfox walks into a courthouse in Louisiana.
“Although they might not agree, I believe what was done today was in their best interests too”, he said.
Louisiana state prosecutors had sought to try him a third time.
All three men spent a great deal of time in solitary confinement at the penitentiary after their convictions.
Mr. Woodfox will be released Friday on time served for those charges. Eve says the Angola Three have long maintained “they were framed for the prison guard’s murder as retaliation for involvement in the Black Panther movement”.
President Barack Obama’s spokesperson Josh Earnest said yesterday the United States leader is convinced that solitary confinement should be used “appropriately and sparingly”.
Woodfox, now 69, is the longest held prisoner in solitary confinement in US history-held in an 8×6 cell for 23 hours a day for 42 years. “Additionally, he waived his rights to appeal this sentence”. He only experienced a few days of freedom; he was suffering from terminal liver cancer and died just days later. In Brady’s ruling, he pointed to several issues, including Woodfox’s failing health and his belief that the state could not provide a fair trial.
She died while he was in prison and Woodfox said he had not been allowed to go to the funeral.