Albert Woodfox dies at 75 after 43 years in solitary confinement

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<p><figcaption class=Photo: Billy Southern, Albert Woodfox/EPA Attorney

Albert Woodfox, who survived 43 years in a 6-foot-by-9-foot cell in one of America’s most brutal prisons and is believed to have been held in solitary confinement longer than any individual in American history, has died at the age of 75. rice field.

Woodfox’s death was made public Thursday by his longtime attorneys George Kendall and Karine Williams, as well as his brother Michael Mable. I got

Related: 43 years of solitude: ‘There are moments when you want to go back there’

Woodfox was a member of the so-called “Angola Three”, prisoners wrongfully convicted in the 1972 murder of Louisiana State Penitentiary guard Brent Miller. The prison was built on the site of a former slave plantation and was commonly known as Angola, after the country to which most of the plantation slaves were deported.

Prior to the murders, Woodfox and his fellow Angola Three member Herman Wallace had established a branch of the Black Panther Party inside the prison. Black prisoners protested unpaid cotton picking being subjected to chain gangs in suburban fields.

He always claimed that his false beliefs and the resulting treatment were punishment for his black radicalism. I was put in and spent over 40 years without much rest.

Wallace was released after a legal battle in 2013, but prison authorities continued to try to get him back in prison. He died of cancer two days later.

Woodfox was released on his 69th birthday in 2016. After a few days of free walking, he told the Guardian She endured decades of solitude by sheer willpower, despite frequent bouts of terrible claustrophobia.

“We made a conscious decision to never be institutionalized. As the years went by, we worked hard to improve and motivate ourselves,” he said.

of subsequent interview Guardian and over the yearsand in his 2019 book Lonely, which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, he described in more detail the extraordinary strength that enabled him and Wallace – as Woodfox described his friend The conditions they endured are known to cause mental breakdown in individuals within a week, let alone 40 years.

Woodfox said he studied Frantz Fanon, Malcolm X, and Marcus Garvey and immersed himself in prison books. He organized games played up and down the rows of cells, shouting layers and tapping pipes. Thus were math tests and general knowledge quizzes on black history.

He was most proud of having taught several young prisoners how to read in a similar way.

“Our cells were supposed to be death chambers, but we turned them into schools and debates,” Woodfox told The Guardian. and spent time developing the tools necessary to become part of humanity.

During the six years of freedom Woodfox enjoyed, he devoted himself to educating people, both in the United States and abroad, about the atrocities of the U.S. criminal justice system. He has traveled extensively around the country and around the world to address audiences of school children and judges.

Back in New Orleans, he found all the joy he could. He visited the grave of his beloved mother, Ruby Mable Hamlin, and spent free time with her daughter Brenda Poole, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and his lifelong partner Leslie George.

He also took in a stray dog ​​that wandered the embankment near Lake Pontchartrain.

Despite the institutional brutality that befell him over the years, Woodfox remained an incurable optimist to the end. I hope that the new human will evolve so that unnecessary pain and suffering, poverty, exploitation, racism and injustice are a thing of the past. ”

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