Herman Wallace , the “Muhammad Ali of the criminal justice system,” passes on
October 4, 2013

On October 4th, 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.  Just 3 days before his passing, he succeeded, his conviction was overturned, and he was released to spend his final hours surrounded by loved ones.  Despite his brief moments of freedom, his case will now forever serve as a tragic example that justice delayed is justice denied. Herman Wallace’s early life in New Orleans during the heyday of an unforgiving and unjust Jim Crow south often found him on the wrong side of the law and eventually he was sent to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola for armed robbery.  While there, he was introduced to the Black Panther’s powerful message of self determination and collective community action and quickly became one of its most persuasive and ardent practitioners. Not long after he began to organize hunger and work strikes to protest the continued segregation, endemic corruption, and horrific abuse rampant at the prison, he and his fellow panther comrades Albert Woodfox and Robert King were charged with murders they did not commit and thrown in solitary.  Robert was released in 2001 after 29 years in solitary but Herman remained there for an unprecedented 41 years, and Albert is still in a 6x9 solitary cell. Herman’s criminal case ended with his passing, but his legacy will live on through a civil lawsuit he filed jointly with Robert and Albert that seeks to define and abolish long term solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment, and through his comrade Albert Woodfox’s still active and promising bid for freedom from the wrongful conviction they both shared. Herman was only 9 days shy of 72 years old.  Source
Rest in power, Herman.
Louisiana refuses to release former Black Panther despite court order

A gruesome legal battle over the fate of a dying man is being played out at the Hunt correctional center in St Gabriel, Louisiana, as state authorities refuse to release a former member of the Black Panther movement despite a federal court ordering they do so.

Herman Wallace, who was held for more than 40 years in solitary confinement in Louisiana jails, is still being confined inside the prison although Judge Brian Jackson ordered on Tuesday that he be immediately released. Wallace, 71, is suffering from lung cancer and is believed to have just days to live.

An ambulance is standing by outside the prison and lawyers for Wallace are also present. But the district attorney for East Baton Rouge has challenged the federal court order, and in the light of the challenge the Louisiana department of corrections is refusing to set the prisoner free.

The unseemly tussle over the fate of a dying man is wholly in keeping with the history of Wallace’s penal history up to this point. A member of the so-called Angola Three, he was convicted in 1974 for killing prison guard Brent Miller in Angola jail – but has always professed his innocence.

Wallace was then kept for 41 years in isolation, as has been his co-defendant and fellow Angola Three member Albert Woodfox.

UN rights expert urges US to end ‘torture’ of prisoner

The United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture criticized the United States’ use of solitary confinement in prisons Monday.

Special rapporteur Juan E. Mendez called on the U.S. to end the indefinite solitary confinement imposed on Albert Woodfox, who has been in solitary for over 40 years after being convicted of murdering a Louisiana prison guard.

Woodfox and two others were moved to isolation units at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, where they came to be known as the “Angola 3.”

“Keeping Albert Woodfox in solitary confinement for more than four decades clearly amounts to torture, and it should be lifted immediately,” Mendez said.

Read more.

(Patrick Semansky/AP)

Did the Wrong Man Spend 40 Years in Solitary Confinement?

It is now only a matter of weeks, or days perhaps, before Herman Wallace dies of the liver cancer that is ravaging his body. He will likely die in prison, at age 72, without proper medical treatment, after spending nearly four decades in a 6’ by 9’ cell. He was placed in solitary confinement after being convicted in January 1974 of killing a prison guard at Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison. Wallace is black. The guard was white, and so was each member of the southern jury that convicted him.

The case against Wallace was pitifully weak when it was presented to that jury; some of the constitutional infirmities at trial were almost farcical. But over the years the courts of that state, along with Congress and the federal courts, have constructed a mighty wall protecting that jury’s verdict. Layer upon layer of procedural protections has been built around it so that today, as Wallace nears death, it is easy to see the vast gulf that exists here between law and justice.

And that, ironically, may be the most important legacy Wallace leaves from his miserable time on this earth. A member of the famed “Angola 3,” Wallace in life has been a symbol of many different things to many different people. He has generated more than his share both of pity and scorn. In death, however, he will become a symbol of a justice system that too often prizes finality over accuracy, but without the candor or courage to actually say so. The law says that Herman Wallace got a fair trial. But we all can judge for ourselves what that really meant to a black inmate in Louisiana in 1974.

Read more. [Image: Bogdan Cristel/Reuters]


After more than 43 years in solitary confinement, Albert Woodfox of the “Angola 3” is a free man and joined us for his first broadcast interview. The former Black Panther spent more time in solitary confinement than anyone in the United States, much of it in a six-by-nine cell for 23 hours each day.

Watch the full interview here.

Today, October 4, 2013, we lost two great elders: Herman Wallace of the Angola 3 and General Giap of revolutionary Vietnam. 

Let’s take this opportunity not only to appreciate their accomplishments and sacrifices, but to rededicate ourselves to the revolutionary struggle for the liberation of all peoples which they devoted their lives to.

After 42 Years in Solitary, Herman Wallace Dies a Free Man

Oct. 4 2013

Herman Wallace died this morning. He was 71 years old and debilitated by terminal liver cancer. Three days ago, he went home to New Orleans for the first time since he was a young man. He has spent virtually all of the last 42 years locked alone in a room the size of a parking space.

This elderly and terminally ill man was in solitary confinement just a few days ago. He was one of tens of thousands of people in isolated confinement in this country every day.

Who are the others? Thousands of them are non-violent. Many are mentally ill people who were sent to solitary confinement—and remain there—as punishment for behavior connected to untreated psychiatric conditions. Some are teenagers incarcerated in the adult system and transgender women in male facilities, who are all too often placed in isolation “for their own protection.”

It’s a myth that solitary confinement is only used on a small subset of prisoners deemed “the worst of the worst;” sadly, it’s far more common than that.

After 42 years, it’s wonderful that Mr. Wallace died a free man. It’s important to tell his story, both because of the injustices that led to his solitary confinement and because it is a reminder of the thousands of others who continue to be subjected to extreme isolation in our jails and prisons.

In 1974, Mr. Wallace was convicted of the murder of a corrections officer at Louisiana’s Angola prison, where he was serving a sentence on other charges. Mr. Wallace’s conviction was based on sparse evidence and a shoddy investigation; he was also indicted by a grand jury from which women were unconstitutionally excluded. Moreover, it is widely believed that racism and retaliation (Mr. Wallace was a vocal member of the Black Panther Party) were factors in his prosecution. It took until Tuesday, but Mr. Wallace was finally released from prison after a court order overturned his conviction.

Mr. Wallace and two other men placed in decades-long solitary confinement at Angola became known as the “Angola 3,” and their story has been told all around the world. While one of the men, Robert King, was released in 2001, the third, Albert Woodfox, remains in solitary confinement. On Tuesday, Wallace’s legal team said that Mr. Wallace hopes that his case “will help ensure that others, including his lifelong friend and fellow ‘Angola 3’ member Albert Woodfox, do not continue to suffer such cruel and unusual confinement even after Mr. Wallace is gone.” Robert King also recently expressed hope that the story of the Angola 3 would help bring about change in an unjust system.

The order overturning Mr. Wallace’s conviction and directing his release is no doubt a victory, but it is a bittersweet one. Mr. Wallace’s release, after so many years and coming just days before his death, highlights the cruelty of solitary confinement. The practice, which involves holding prisoners in tiny cells for 22 to 24 hours a day, is widely used in American prisons. The experience of prolonged isolation can lead to extreme psychological harms including severe and chronic depression, hallucinations, self‐mutilation, and suicide. Nobody deserves such treatment, which the international human rights community has denounced as torture.

While there is still a long way to go, some initial steps have recently been taken to put an end to this inhumane treatment. The Federal Bureau of Prisons will soon undergo a comprehensive and independent review of its use of solitary confinement. And new regulations under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) impose important limitations on the use of “protective” isolation, recognizing the particular vulnerabilities of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) individuals, youth, and people with mental illness to prolonged isolation, and include mechanisms to restrict the practice of warehousing prisoners in segregation with little oversight.

Herman Wallace waited 42 years only to be released from solitary confinement on his deathbed. After his death, our hope is that Mr. Wallace did not struggle in vain, and that his story will prevent others from enduring the sensory and social isolation that he lived through for more than two decades.
Breaking: Federal Judge Orders Immediate Release of Herman Wallace, Held in Solitary For 40+ Years

A federal judge has ordered the immediate release of Herman Wallace, a member of the so-called Angola 3, who was held in solitary confinement for more than 40 years. The judge ordered his release because women were excluded from the grand jury in his case four decades ago. The decision comes as Wallace is dying of liver cancer. Wallace’s supporters say he has just days to live, but his requests for compassionate release has so far gone unanswered.

Herman Wallace’s legal team said today:

“With today’s ruling, at long last, Herman Wallace has been afforded some measure of justice after a lifetime of injustice. We ask that the Department of Corrections honor Judge Jackson’s order and immediately release Herman Wallace so that he can spend his final days as a free man.”

“In addition, litigation challenging Mr. Wallace’s unconstitutional confinement in solitary confinement for four decades will continue in his name. It is Mr. Wallace’s hope that this litigation will help ensure that others, including his lifelong friend and fellow ‘Angola 3’ member, Albert Woodfox, do not continue to suffer such cruel and unusual confinement even after Mr. Wallace is gone.“

Watch our coverage of Wallace’s case from Monday:
Cancer-Stricken Angola 3 Prisoner Herman Wallace Given Just Days to Live After 42 Years in Solitary
43 years in solitary: 'There are moments I wish I was back there'
Albert Woodfox, who was America’s longest-standing solitary confinement prisoner up until his release in February, describes what it feels like to be free
By Ed Pilkington

The most disturbing part of freedom, Woodfox says, has been the dawning realisation since his release that in America in 2016 there is very little sense of political or social struggle. When he entered prison in the 1970s the country was on fire with political debate; now, as he puts it, “everybody seems to be ‘Me, me, me, me, me.’ It’s all about me, what I need and how I’m going to get it.”

That public indifference has in turn, he believes, allowed solitary confinement to flourish, to the extent that 100,000 Americans are subjected to it each year.

“The people and the government and the courts have turned their back on prisons, and that lets the wardens and officers act as judge, jury and executioner,” he says. “People don’t seem to be socially aware, that’s why solitary confinement exists and why it’s so brutal. Because nobody cares.”

Watch on

After 4 Decades in Solitary, Dying Angola 3 Prisoner Herman Wallace Freed, Conviction Overturned

Oct. 2 2013

A dying prisoner has been released in Louisiana after serving nearly 42 years in solitary confinement, longer than any other person in the United States. Herman Wallace and two others, known as the Angola Three, were placed in solitary in 1972 following the murder of a prison guard. The Angola Three and their supporters say they were framed for the murder over their political activism as members of one of the first prison chapters of the Black Panthers. In a surprise development on Tuesday, Wallace was released from prison after a federal judge overturned his conviction, saying he did not receive a fair trial. Wallace, who is near death from advanced liver cancer, was taken directly to a New Orleans hospital where supporters greeted his arrival. We are joined by three guests: Robert King, who until Tuesday night was the only freed member of the Angola Three and helped deliver to Wallace the news of his release; Wallace’s defense attorney, George Kendall; and Jackie Sumell, an artist and Wallace supporter who is with him at the Louisiana State University Medical Center in New Orleans. “This is a tremendous victory and a miracle that Herman Wallace will die a free man,” Sumell says. “He’s had 42 years of maintaining his innocence in solitary confinement, and if his last few breaths are as a free man, we’ve won.”


Top: Comrade Herman Wallace of the Angola 3 political prisoners on his way to the hospital October 1 upon his release from prison after 41 years in solitary confinement.

Below: Supporters gathered to celebrate the dying Black liberation warrior’s freedom.

Photos: Angola 3 Newsletter
Davey D's Hip Hop Corner: Angola 3 Political Prisoner Herman Wallace Given 2 Months to Live

With so much going on in the world, where we are running around demanding that everyone conforms to rest of the world conform to our so-called standards of governing and we often forget that here at home we mistreat and abuse far too many of our citizens. For all the talk of us being the beacon of freedom and the world’s number one super power that all should emulate, where we fall short the most is the cruelty and torture we put upon those who are incarcerated, in particular political prisoners and those who have partook in the Prison Reform Movement of the 1970s

First we should note that this week Sept 9th- Sept 13thmarks the 41st anniversary of the nation’s most violent and disturbing Prison Rebellion.. We’re talking about Attica. The root of the rebellion was folks coming together and asking for what we’re deemed reasonable improvements and an end to the isolation and torture of inmate at the hands of sadistic guards.

The violence was when then Governor Nelson Rockefeller refused to negotiate on key demands  and sent in guards , soldiers and former prison workers who shot and killed 9 of the 10 prison guards who were held hostage.. along with over 20 inmates. After the rebellions prisoners were stripped and cruelly beaten after erroneous reports were put forth that they had killed prison guards. It was later learned the inmates tried to protect them.

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Angola 3

1971 was the year the Attica Rebellion took place. It was also the same year that one thousand miles away, Robert KingAlbert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were sentenced to do time at Angola State Prison  a former slave plantation. Inspired by the Prison Reform Movement and the fact that Woodfox and Wallace had joined the Black Panthers, they began organizing inmates and pushing to demand improvement to the prisons wretched conditions. They called for an end to violence and rapes that were routinely occurring. They called for the prison to be desegregated.

In 1972 the 3 men were accused of murdering prison guard Brent Miller and were placed in solitary confinement for 40 years. All 3 maintained they were innocent which seemed to be supported by the fact there was no physical evidence connecting them to the crime. Over the years it was found evidence used against them was compromised by prosecutors and prison officials who held racial biases and that much of it has since been lost.

Witnesses were later found to be discredited and on 3 different occasions their sentences was overturned only to be appealed by over zealous Louisiana attorney generals who have made it a mission to keep the remaining two Woodfox and Wallace locked up. King who was set free several years ago after spending 29 years in solitary confinement..

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Herman Wallace

In recent days its come to light that 71 year old Herman Wallace who was diagnosed with severe  liver cancer has 2 months to live. Even under these conditions he has not been released ..below is a statement he released.

Saturday, August 31st, I was transferred to LSU Hospital for evaluation. I was informed that the chemo treatments had failed and were making matters worse and so all treatment came to an end. The oncologists advised that nothing can be done for me medically within the standard care that they are authorized to provide. They recommended that I be admitted to hospice care to make my remaining days as comfortable as possible. I have been given 2 months to live.

I want the world to know that I am an innocent man and that Albert Woodfox is innocent as well. We are just two of thousands of wrongfully convicted prisoners held captive in the American Gulag. We mourn for the family of Brent Miller and the many other victims of murder who will never be able to find closure for the loss of their loved ones due to the unjust criminal justice system in this country. We mourn for the loss of the families of those unjustly accused who suffer the loss of their loved ones as well.

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.

In 1970 I took an oath to dedicate my life as a servant of the people, and although I’m down on my back, I remain at your service. I want to thank all of you, my devoted supporters, for being with me to the end.”

Here’s some additional information on the Angola 3

Keep in Touch with Herman and Albert

Albert Woodfox #72148 Herman Wallace #76759

David Wade Correctional Center Elayn Hunt Correctional Center

N1 A3 CCR D #2

670 Bell Hill Road PO Box 174

Homer, LA 71040 St. Gabriel, LA 70776


Angola 3

A song produced by Dave Stewart in protest of the incarceration of the Angola 3 featuring Saul Williams, Nadirah X, Asdru Sierra, Dana Glover, Tina Schlieske, Derrick Ashong and Dave Stewart.

Visit and for more info.
Angola 3 member Albert Woodfox out of jail; see video of first steps, words after release
In a statement released by his attorneys, Woodfox said "Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no-contest plea to lesser charges. I hope the events of today will bring closure to many." 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.

43 years in solitary. 2 overturned convictions. Finally released.