by Ann Garrison
KPFA Evening News, broadcast Nov. 9
KPFA Evening News Anchor: Amnesty International has announced that, for the first time, it has put a U.S. prisoner on the list of 10 cases that it will ask people around the world to advocate for in their Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon on International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10. The U.S. prisoner is 68-year-old Albert Woodfox, the final member of the Angola 3 still in solitary confinement in a Louisiana state prison.
Woodfox has served 41 years in solitary for the 1972 murder of a prison guard that he steadfastly maintains he did not commit. KPFA’s Ann Garrison attended last night’s (Nov. 8) ANSWER Coalition presentation of Angola 3 member Robert King, who was released in 2001, in San Francisco. She spoke to Marina Drummer, longtime Northern California advocate for the Angola 3.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Marina, could you explain why Albert Woodfox’s case has been chosen by Amnesty International for this honor?
Marina Drummer: Hi, Ann. Thanks for the opportunity to talk about this a little further. You know I can’t pretend to know Amnesty’s selection process, but it does occur to me, as I look at the cases, that these are cases that had some serious resonance with their membership in the past year and that they have put a good deal of energy into. That certainly is true of the Angola 3 case, which Amnesty has been extremely supportive of for the last two or three years.
Amnesty International has announced that, for the first time, it has put a U.S. prisoner on the list of 10 cases that it will ask people around the world to advocate for in their Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon on International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10. The U.S. prisoner is 68-year-old Albert Woodfox, the final member of the Angola 3 still in solitary confinement in a Louisiana state prison.
KPFA: What’s the state of Albert Woodfox’s legal effort to obtain his release?
Marina Drummer: Well, his conviction has been overturned three times. And each time it’s overturned, the state appeals it, and that just happened again. However, the judge has responded to the state’s appeal and set a new date for a review of the habeas and his conviction, and that is Jan. 9. So, we’re actually on a fairly fast track, considering how things normally move in Louisiana, to reach some resolution here.
So that’s coming right up; and this coming week, Nov. 13, he has a hearing in Baton Rouge, due to the continuous onerous strip search and cavity searches that they’re doing. It’s been going on since about February now.
Every time he steps foot out of his cell, they strip search him. Whether he’s going to see his lawyers – in handcuffs and shackles or not – they strip search him when he’s going out and when he’s coming in. And when the lawyers are visiting, he says sometimes it can be up to eight times a day that he’s strip searched, which is pretty extreme.
His conviction has been overturned three times. And each time it’s overturned, the state appeals it, and that just happened again.
So, there’s that, and then there’s the civil case that all three, Herman, Albert and King, put forward, that will be reviewed in Louisiana in June of next year.
KPFA: That one is the case regarding …?
Marina Drummer: Cruel and unusual punishment and limiting the duration that anyone could be in solitary. It’s not about their criminal case. It’s about the state of the penal system there.
KPFA: OK, is there anything else you’d like people to know right now?
I just urge all KPFA’s listeners to get involved in abolishing solitary in any way they can.
Marina Drummer: You know, I think that between the Angola 3 and the California hunger strike and Guantanamo and a good deal of press that’s been generated in the last couple of months over a number of issues dealing with solitary, we’re at a really crucial moment where we finally have the public awareness and the media push to make a difference in this.
And I just urge all KPFA’s listeners to get involved in abolishing solitary in any way they can. Work with the California hunger strikers. Go to Solitary Watch, our site, as well as the Angola 3 site. And whatever actions are going on, whatever petitions you see. The National Religious Campaign Against Torture has a great petition out. Whatever you can do to put your voice out there against solitary, this is the time to do it.
KPFA: OK, Marina Drummer, thank you very much.
Marina Drummer: Thanks, Ann.
Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, Colored Opinions, Black Star News and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News and her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to see Ann Garrison’s independent reporting continue, please contribute on her website at anngarrison.com.