Today, Judge William G. Carmichael of Louisiana's 20th Judicial District Court held a hearing to lay the groundwork for a possible third trial of Albert Woodfox, the last imprisoned member of the Angola 3. In June, U.S. District Judge James Brady ordered Woodfox's unconditional release, overturning his conviction and barring the state from retrying him, but the state of Louisiana appealed the ruling. While the appeal is being considered, the state court is moving ahead with a new trial.
Jasmine Heiss, Senior Campaigner for Amnesty International USA's Individuals at Risk program, attended the hearing and issued the following statement:
"Albert Woodfox has endured over four decades in a cell the size of a parking space. His conviction has been thrown out three occasions. But each time his freedom has seemed within reach, the state of Louisiana has done everything in its power to keep him incarcerated.
"Woodfox was moved to solitary confinement before ever being convicted of murder. He has stayed there for four decades, through three overturned convictions, fighting to prove his innocence. Albert Woodfox's case serves as a harsh condemnation of the U.S. justice system; he remains trapped in both a cell the size of a parking space and in a legal process tainted by racial discrimination, among other glaring flaws. Through all of this, the warden of Angola prison has continued to justify his ongoing isolation based on Woodfox's association with the Black Panther Party.
"Judge Brady's writ of unconditional release should have ended Albert’s ordeal, yet Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell continues to pursue a campaign of vengeance against him. It’s time for Albert Woodfox to walk free."