Albert Woodfox spent a record 43 years in solitary confinement for a murder he claimed he did not commit. — Picture courtesy of amnesty.org
WASHINGTON, Aug 5 — Albert Woodfox, a former member of the Black Panthers who spent a record 43 years in solitary confinement for a murder he claimed he did not commit, has died at the age of 75.
Woodfox, who was released from prison in February 2016, died in New Orleans, Louisiana, yesterday of complications from Covid-19, his lawyer, George Kendall, said.
Woodfox and Herman Wallace, another African American inmate at the notorious Louisiana State Penitentiary known as Angola, were convicted of the 1972 murder of a white prison guard, Brent Miller. Both men maintained their innocence.
Woodfox, Wallace and another prisoner, Robert King, were dubbed the “Angola Three” and their cases drew international attention because of the long stretches they spent in solitary confinement.
The trio embraced the Black Panther militant movement while serving time for lesser crimes and said they were targeted by prison officials because they spoke out against inhumane treatment and racial segregation at the jail.
Woodfox, Wallace and King were confined to tiny cells for 23 hours a day at the prison built on the site of a former plantation worked by slaves from Africa.
Woodfox, who was serving time for armed robbery at the time of the murder of the prison guard, spent a total of 43 years and 10 months in solitary, believed to be more than any other US inmate ever.
King spent 29 years in solitary until his conviction for a separate prison murder was overturned in 2001 and he was released.
Wallace, who was suffering from liver cancer, was freed in 2013 and died just three days after his release.
Woodfox became a champion for prison reform following his release and published a book, “Solitary,” in 2019 that was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. — AFP