Last of the Angola Three Freed After 43 Years in Solitary Confinement

Reblogged from Moorbey’z blog

The liberation of Albert Woodfox has been a very long time coming. In what many say has been one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice in modern American times, Woodfox has, for 43 years, languished in solitary confinement in one of the harshest maximum security facilities in America for a crime that he did not commit.

woodfox walks free.jpgAlbert Woodfox raises a clenched fist as he walks out of the West Feliciana Detention Center with his brother, Michael Mable, in St. Francisville, La. 

Take a deep breath everyone,

Just moments ago, Albert Woodfox, the last remaining member of the Angola 3 still behind bars, was released from prison 43 years and 10 months after he was first put in a 6×9 foot solitary cell for a crime he did not commit. After decades of costly litigation, Louisiana State officials have at last acted in the interest of justice and reached an agreement that brings a long overdue end to this nightmare. Albert has maintained his innocence at every step, and today, on his 69th birthday, he will finally begin a new phase of his life as a free man.

In anticipation of his release this morning, Albert thanked his many supporters and added: “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.”

Over the course of the past four decades, Albert’s conviction was overturned three separate times

Over the course of the past four decades, Albert’s conviction was overturned three separate times for a host of constitutional violations including prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate defense, racial discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson, and suppression of exculpatory evidence. On June 8th, 2015, Federal Judge James Brady ordered Albert’s immediate release and barred the State from retrying Albert, an extraordinary ruling that he called “the only just remedy.” A divided panel of the 5th Circuit Court of appeals reversed that order in November with the dissenting Judge arguing that “If ever a case justifiably could be considered to present ‘exceptional circumstances’ barring re-prosecution, this is that case.” That ruling was on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court when news of his release broke.

angola three.jpg

On behalf of the Angola 3 – Albert Woodfox, Robert King, and in memory of Herman Wallace – we would like to sincerely thank all the organizations, activists, artists, legal experts, and other individuals who have so graciously given their time and talent to the Angola 3’s extraordinary struggle for justice. This victory belongs to all of us and should motivate us to stand up and demand even more fervently that long-term solitary confinement be abolished, and all the innocent and wrongfully incarcerated be freed.

woodfox free.jpgAlbert Woodfox in New Orleans shortly after his release AP

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Last of Angola Three to be freed: Is this America’s worst-ever miscarriage of justice?

Cuba: Art against Solitary Confinement . . . a tribute to all political prisoners

In a few days the building of Cuban Art from the National Museum of Fine Arts will exhibit the installation “do not thank the silence”, created by the renown Cuban artist Alexys Leyva Machado (Kcho). The idea was inspired by the experience of the Cuban Five in Unit Special Albergamiento (Special House Unit), known as El Hueco in FDC (Federal Detention Center) in Miami, where they remained for 17 months even though according to the regulation of U.S. prisons the maximum period is 60 days..

cuba solitary confinementThrough Kcho’s idea, visitors will discover one of the most sadistic edges of the American prison system and may remain locked up for 5 minutes in a cell about 15 feet long and seven wide with no more furniture than bunk iron with a fine mattress, and concrete seat and table. The toilet is metal and there is a sink and a “mirror” which returns your sad look.

These conditions are created to make people feel like junk, to degrade them to the lowest level,  commented René González and Fernando González to Kcho at a meeting held last Wednesday, March 19.

Kcho researched the topic in detail but the testimony of the two anti-terrorist fighters who have returned to Cuba, as well as drawings of Antonio Guerrero, were vital to the realism that distinguishes the work.

As you enter you feel the discomfort

“I feel that people will come spontaneously and most will want the full experience, including passage through the cell, which is optional.  As you enter the installation you feel, from the outset, the discomfort of being in a controlled, contained space, surrounded by fences and padlocks. That’s the idea,  said the artist.

kcho cuban artist“This will be like a big black cube” described Kcho “half covered by a translucent black curtain, so that you can see something, but likewise be hidden. There will be orange overalls with the name and the judgment of each Five printed on the back. ” Whoever decides to have the experience must remove all their belongings and get one of the uniforms, including flip flops. From that time receive a sentence similar to the treatment gap, that includes wives, their feet chained and called “walk” when taken out of the cell.

The work includes a lounge (also behind bars) for temporary exhibitions and a small “classroom” with desks where some of the audiovisual made on the subject of the Five in the 15 years of struggle for liberation is screened.

A critique of the system that has made prisons a lucrative business that needs offenders

“But it is not only for the Five-said Kcho it is also for the countless and unknown Cubans who have suffered during these fifty years of fighting the United States for Puerto Ricans and all political fighters who have faced the empire. It is also a critique of the system that has made prisons a lucrative, cynical business, a system that needs offenders whom they allegedly seek to reform. ”

rene fernando kcho y olga 1

Kcho: “I’ll be the first to live the experience, I’ll stay that opening night. I’m from little sleep, so I will apologize license to keep a notebook for painting. I will endure only so many hours locked “.

kcho construction underwayKcho: “This work is an indictment of an unjust regime that makes man trash. The U.S. has more than 2 million prisoners and the system operates as a business. Prisoners are needed to make it profitable. In the case of Herman Wallace, for example, the Black Panther who was freed only when he was about to die and spent over 40 years in solitary confinement. ”

kcho construction 2Kcho: “The background to this work is in one I did in 1999 for House of the Americas which was called “Do not thank silence”. It was a great boat cage, a prison.  In 1990 he  made another cage that is in the Fine Arts Museum – it also talks about the detention. It is a call not to be complicit in this silence that reigns in prisons. That silence is bad.

kcho fernando 2

Fernando: “Part of the punishment is solitary confinement, you never see anyone, you have to wait to feel a key to see if your scream made case and ask the guard for cleaning chemicals. In my last experience they almost always said this was apparently due to financial problems. ”

kcho rene 2Even within the Hueco (Hole) they applied various schemes explained as safety, said Fernando and René to Kcho, including the chains that bound both hip and feet.

kcho y fernando 3

This was the first meeting with Fernando and Kcho since his return to the country on 28 February after serving his full 15 years, 5 months and 15 days.

rene fernando y kcho 3

“No thank to silence” will be opened shortly in the National Museum of Fine Arts. Its dimensions, bars and locks, security cameras and the presence of similar employees in El Hueco objects, multiply the realism of the work.

kcho with keysAmong the pieces that multiply the realism of “no thanks to silence”, is the ring stand with multiple keys (see right hand Kcho) and the “line” which consisted of a long rope made from a piece of sheet which is tied at the tip a toothpaste tube (see left hand René), this served to switch to, under the door at full speed, “magazines and a whole lot more,” according to testimony of Antonio Guerrero in the series of watercolors I die as I lived.

Source: Kcho: arte contra la injusticia http://www.trabajadores.cu/20140324/kcho-cuestiona-sistema-penitenciario-norteamericano/

China issues report on U.S. human rights

BEIJING, Feb. 28 2014

china's flagChina published a report on the United States’ human rights record on Friday, in response to U.S. criticism and “irresponsible remarks” about China.

“The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2013” was released by the Information Office of the State Council, China’s cabinet, in response to “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013” made public by the U.S. State Department on Thursday.

China’s report states that there were serious human rights problems in the U.S in 2013,
with the situation deteriorating in many fields. Once again posing as “the world judge of human rights”, the U.S. government “made arbitrary attacks and irresponsible remarks on almost 200 countries and regions, the report says.

The United States carefully concealed and avoided mentioning its own human rights  problems, according to the report.

THE WORLD THROUGH PRISM

The U.S. government spies on its own citizens to a “massive and unrestrained” degree, the report says.

The report calls the U.S. PRISM surveillance program, a vast, long-term mechanism for spying on private citizens both at home and abroad, “a blatant violation of international law” and says it “seriously infringes human rights.”

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Herman Wallace: Terminally ill but free at last … after 41 years in solitary confinement

herman wallaceAfter a long, dramatic day, we are humbled to report that the indomitable, irrepressible Herman Wallace has just been released after spending over 4 decades in solitary confinement.

Even after Judge Jackson’s late evening rulingdenying the State’s attempt at a stay and again ordering his immediate release, the State continued to stall.  Once notified of the continued delay, Judge Jackson stoically refused to leave his quarters until Herman was released, and just minutes ago, Herman was driven away from the prison a free man, awake and able to revel in this miraculous turn of events.

The State will likely still appeal to the 5th Circuit and attempt to have the order reversed, and may even re-indict him, but it seems that Herman, against all odds, has won.

Read more at:  http://angola3news.blogspot.com/2013/10/free-at-last-herman-wallace-has-finally.html#more

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Cornel West: The President has very little moral authority at this point

Cornel West

Source:  Democracy Now

CORNEL WEST: Well, the first thing, I think we have to acknowledge that President Obama has very little moral authority at this point, because we know anybody who tries to rationalize the killing of innocent peoples, a criminal—George Zimmerman is a criminal—but President Obama is a global George Zimmerman, because he tries to rationalize the killing of innocent children, 221 so far, in the name of self-defense, so that there’s actually parallels here.

AMY GOODMAN: Where?

CORNEL WEST: In Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen. So when he comes to talk about the killing of an innocent person, you say, “Well, wait a minute. What kind of moral authority are you bringing? You’ve got $2 million bounty on Sister Assata Shakur. She’s innocent, but you are pressing that intentionally. Will you press for the justice of Trayvon Martin in the same way you press for the prosecution of Brother Bradley Manning and Brother Edward Snowden?” So you begin to see the hypocrisy.

Read more at:

http://www.democracynow.org/2013/7/22/cornel_west_obamas_response_to_trayvon

300 immigrants subjected to solitary confinement every day in the US

 

THE U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) daily subjects to solitary confinement close to 300 individuals who enter the country illegally.

confinementMany of these persons have spent close to 75 days in solitary confinement and their access to telephone communication has been limited, an article in The New York Times reveals.
The newspaper notes that the implementation of this practice is illegal because immigrants are detained on civil and not criminal charges, and thus should only be held in custody until brought before the courts for lack of documentation.
It also notes that the foreign prison population has increased by 85% since 2005, since Continue reading