Albert Woodfox spent almost 45-years in solitary confinement in Louisiana for a murder he insists he didn’t commit and has written a book detailing the horror of the isolation.
He and one other prisoner were accused of murdering an Angola prison guard. Federal courts threw out two murder convictions, but he decided to plead no contest before a third trial.
“By pleading nolo contendere I wouldn’t be innocent in the eyes of the law,” Woodfox told the Times-Picayune. “But I knew I was innocent.”
The result: he spent 44 years and 10 months in solitary, getting out one hour per day.
“Their desire was to break us—which they failed miserably at—or have us die in a 6×9-foot cell,” Woodfox said. He added that he kept his sanity. He was released in 2016.
He discussed his book, Solitary, at the New Orleans Public Library in March.
Woodfox was serving time for armed robbery at the Louisiana State Penitentiary when he was accused of killing a guard, which resulted in him being placed in a solitary cell. Woodfox was one of three inmates who had been identified as members of the Black Panther Party.
There is no reason to believe that Woodfox or Her- man Wallace killed Angola guard Brent Miller in April 1972, The Times-Picayune reported. The guard’s widow does not even believe it. Nor is there reason to believe that, months later, Robert King killed a fellow inmate, ac- cording to columnist Jarvis DeBerry of The Times-Picayune.
There is reason to believe the Angola 3 were punished for calling out the racism and the brutality bestowed upon them by prison officials and for encouraging inmates to demand better treatment, the newspaper said.
Woodfox quotes a 2008 deposition where Warden Burl Cain said that even if Woodfox had not killed Miller, “I would still keep him in CCR. I still know that he is still trying to practice Black Pantherism, and I still would not want him walking around my prison because he would organize the young new inmates.”
In 2001, King was released from prison. Wallace’s conviction was tossed out in 2013; he was released from prison the day before he died of liver cancer.