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The Prison Complex

Friday, Feb 19, 2016, 12:50 pm

After Decades In Solitary Confinement Judge Orders Last Member of Angola 3 Released

By George Lavender

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Albert Woodfox, the last member of the "Angola 3" still behind bars, is expected to be freed Friday afternoon after more than forty years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement. Woodfox had always declared his innocence in the killing of prison guard Brent Miller in 1972. As Maya Lau of The Advocate reports, by entering a no contest plea to lesser charges of manslaughter and aggravated burglary, he is entitled to be released from prison for time served.

A Black Panther activist at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, Woodfox and co-defendant Herman Wallace maintained they were blamed for the killing because they had agitated for better conditions during one of its bloodiest periods. Woodfox was convicted twice for the murder, once in 1973 and again in 1998, but judges identified problems with the way the grand juries were selected, overturning the convictions.

U.S. District Court Judge James Brady, one of those judges, went even further last summer, ordering the state to release the 69-year-old Woodfox and banning the Attorney General from retrying him for the crime. But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Brady, saying a third trial could go forward. Continue reading... 

Together, Woodfox, Wallace and Robert King, another Black Panther Party member, became known as the "Angola 3," after the original name of the Louisiana State Prison. King, who was never charged with Miller's murder but who authorities maintained had been involved, was released in 2001. Wallace was freed from prison in 2013, and died three days later of advanced liver cancer. 

George Lavender is an award-winning radio and print journalist based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @GeorgeLavender.

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