March 30, 2014
Roughly 80,000 people are held in solitary in the United States on any given day, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in many cases for minor violations of prison rules (or no violation at all – ed.). Much of the momentum in the movement to reform the use of solitary confinement in the United States comes from the work of prisoners themselves.
January 15, 2014
Last Tuesday, Jan. 7, a crowd of supporters gathered in the bitter cold in New Orleans’ Lafayette Square outside the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to show their support for Angola 3 inmate Albert Woodfox. Woodfox has been held in solitary confinement – or what the state of Louisiana calls “Closed Cell Restriction” – for 42 years. By most estimates, 42 years is the longest any prisoner has been held in isolation.
January 12, 2014
“Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas” by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker (2013) is part visionary road map, part post-traumatic Katrina therapy, and part poetic love ode/lament to our city. One chapter addresses systems of containment – levees and prisons. In Angola, jailhouse lawyers organized voting blocks of outside allies to push for prison reform and to have decades-long solitary confinement declared cruel and unusual punishment.
November 7, 2013
The movement is growing and we can’t let setbacks blind us from recognizing the progress that’s been made nor keep us from being inspired by that progress as we push the final distance towards the abolition of caging humans and the freeing of Albert Woodfox, the only member of the Angola 3 still in prison, and other political prisoners from decades in solitary.
October 19, 2013
The Angola 3 say they were framed and held in solitary confinement for founding a chapter of the Black Panther Party in the Angola State Prison. But, says supporters Marina Drummer: “There was absolutely no evidence whatsoever. All there was was conflicting eyewitness reports and a prison administration that was determined to stop Herman and Albert from organizing in the prison.”
October 14, 2013
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez today called on the United States to immediately end the indefinite solitary confinement imposed on Albert Woodfox since 1972. Mr. Woodfox was convicted of murder together with Herman Wallace, who was released last week when his conviction was overturned on appeal. A day later, Mr. Wallace died after battling cancer, having spent 41 years in solitary confinement.
October 4, 2013
This morning we lost without a doubt the biggest, bravest and brashest personality in the political prisoner world. On Oct. 4, 2013, Herman Wallace, an icon of the modern prison reform movement and an innocent man, died a free man after spending an unimaginable 41 years in solitary confinement. Herman spent the last four decades of his life fighting against all that is unjust in the criminal justice system, making international the inhuman plight that is long term solitary confinement and struggling to prove that he was an innocent man.
September 29, 2013
We have entered many battles as comrades, won some, lost a few, but have survived them all. But from this most recent battle that we have undertaken, one of us will not return. The Ancestors have made the call to come home to our beloved senior comrade. What can we do but heed their call? Even if you are late, the Black Panther Party will meet you at that gate, and when you get home, roam, old Panther, roam.
September 29, 2013
Herman Wallace, stalwart revolutionary for the cause of justice, lies with advanced liver cancer in hospice in a Louisiana state prison. Amazing that even in his final hours, minutes, seconds, days, the Louisiana judicial system which has already conceded to bail will not set it and let the man at least have a taste of freedom. Fill out the petition for Herman Wallace’s immediate release. We also need to rally behind Albert Woodfox and secure his freedom. Send prayers and positive energy to Herman’s friends and family, especially Robert H. King and Albert Woodfox, his brothers.
September 13, 2013
Several years ago, the global human rights group Amnesty International issued an extraordinary appeal to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to grant compassionate release to 72-year-old former Black Panther and political prisoner Herman Wallace, who has recently been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, after losing some 50 pounds in less than six months.
September 12, 2013
Only a handful of prisoners globally have withstood the duration of years of harsh and solitary confinement that Albert and myself have. The state may have stolen my life, but my spirit will continue to struggle along with Albert and the many comrades that have joined us along the way here in the belly of the beast. I want to thank all of you, my devoted supporters, for being with me to the end.
July 1, 2013
Herman Wallace, 71, has been diagnosed with liver cancer. He is being held in a locked prison hospital room in Louisiana. The prognosis is grave. Wallace and Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3 remain in solitary confinement after more than 41 years. POV will premiere the documentary “Herman’s House” Monday, July 8, 10 p.m., on KQED and other PBS stations nationwide.
May 25, 2013
The Scottsboro Boys have been vindicated, but there are many more waiting in the wings – waiting for justice. It is often said that justice delayed is justice denied. Many years have passed in so many unresolved civil rights crimes and injustices. And if no one is prepared to step up and pursue these cases, we must wonder if justice will ever come.
September 13, 2012
This photo comes with a sad story. The child with the sign is Olga, Althea Francois’ daughter. This picture was taken by the FBI and sent to Althea’s parents. They told her parents that she was putting their grandchild in dangerous situations. This set off a chain of events that Althea wondered about for many years.
September 7, 2012
With the storm approaching New Orleans, I spoke to Dwight Henry, co-star in the film, “Beasts of a Southern Wild,” currently in Bay Area theaters. I spoke to three men who are riding the storm out: Parnell Herbert, Angola 3 activist and playwright, Mwalimu Johnson, community organizer and prison abolitionist, and Malik Rahim, former Black Panther.
August 12, 2012
An estimated 80,000 men, women and even children are being held in solitary confinement on any given day in U.S. prisons. If the struggle to end inhumane treatment inside prisons is to become anything more than a largely apolitical movement for so-called “civil rights,” it must put two long-ignored points back on the agenda: race and revolution.
June 22, 2012
Jamal Joseph’s “Panther Baby: A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention” is a story of love, revolution, rage and redemption. Joseph’s brilliant, honest, insightful narrative of his coming of age in New York City in the late 1960s at the height of the Black Power movement is so riveting that I had a hard time putting it down, even to sleep. And when I did, it invaded my dreams.”
June 19, 2012
Robert King writes that “standing on the State Capitol steps on Tuesday, 17 April, I felt the power of the people, of 65,000 people and more – all those who have supported the Angola 3 over the years were also with us. We could not be ignored – the media were there and wanted to report on this; organizations stood by our side in support. Amnesty’s presence was felt.”
June 18, 2012
On the morning of Tuesday, June 19, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights is having an important public hearing on “Reassessing Solitary Confinement.” This Senate hearing comes on the heels of widespread prisoner hunger strikes that have made the use of solitary confinement a central issue.
May 5, 2012
We give honor to Mother Earth, her birthday celebrated the weekend of April 22 with many great events in the Bay Area, “Love Yo Mama” in East Oakland hosted by Nehanda Imara of Citizens for a Better Environment, one of my favorite community events. My granddaughter and I enjoyed visiting the Tassafaronga Farm.