The end was almost in sight for Albert Woodfox this year. First sent to solitary confinement in Louisiana, USA, in 1972, his four decades in isolation looked like they would be over when Albert’s original conviction was overturned (for a third time) and he was cleared for unconditional release back in June.
Louisiana state authorities were barred by the federal judge from retrying him for the same crime. The federal court has also stated that it has a ‘lack of confidence’ in the state to provide Albert a fair trial, while voicing concern over ‘the prejudice done to Woodfox by spending over forty years in solitary confinement’ – longer than seemingly any other prisoner in the US.
Immediately, the same state authorities who had worked so hard to keep Albert in solitary since the early 70s appealed the ruling. Their appeal was successful, and last month the ruling that barred the state from retrying Albert again for the same crime was reversed. Now, once again, Albert is due to be tried for the same crime. He truly is trapped in a nightmare.
The case against Albert still doesn’t stand up. Accused of murdering a prison guard in Louisiana State Penitentiary in 1972 – a charge Albert’s always denied – his conviction twice before has been based on a lack of physical evidence; eyewitness testimonies that were found to have been bribed by officials; the suppression of exculpatory evidence by the state – at trials riddled with many procedural errors.
Add to that the state’s treatment of Albert during his incarceration – keeping him in isolation in a cell measuring 2 metres by 3 metres for over four decades now – and it’s clear that Louisiana officials have an agenda. Albert’s connection with the Black Panther Party has played no small part in his being kept in solitary. But it’s time for those officials to part with historic hold-ups and grant Albert his long-overdue freedom.
The outgoing Attorney must make Albert’s freedom his legacy
The current Attorney General of Louisiana, James ‘Buddy’ Caldwell, was unsuccessful in his election bid last month; he will relinquish the position in February 2016.
During his time in office, Buddy Caldwell has repeatedly refused Albert justice. But now is the chance for him to turn that around.
As Attorney General, Buddy Caldwell has the power to open Albert’s cell. With Albert’s conviction overturned again and Caldwell’s time as Attorney General coming to an end, now is the time for us to show Caldwell that he can leave a positive legacy.
Post on the Attorney General’s Facebook page
There is no option to post directly on the
Attorney General’s Facebook wall, but you could leave a comment on a recent post on the page, along the lines of:
‘Please free Albert Woodfox. After decades of injustice, let Albert’s freedom and long-awaited justice be your legacy. Let him go home for Christmas.’