Friday, January 9, 2015

Humanist Sociologists Vote to Support the Release of Black Panther Activist Albert Woodfox

Featured below is the full text of a public statement just released by the Association for Humanist Sociology. For more information, contact: Kathleen Fitzgerald, AHS President, fitzy88so@gmail.com or Rebecca Hensley, AHS Secretary, luv2lurn@earthlink.net. The AHS website is www.ahssociology.org.

(PHOTO: Albert Woodfox billboard in Louisiana, April 2014)

Humanist Sociologists Vote to Support the Release of Black Panther Activist Albert Woodfox

January 6, 2015

The membership of the Association for Humanist Sociology, an organization dedicated to scholarship and action in the service of justice and peace, has voted to call for the immediate release of the last “Angola 3” prisoner, Albert Woodfox, from the Louisiana Department of Corrections where he has been held in solitary confinement for more than forty-two years for the murder of a prison guard in 1972, a deeply flawed conviction that has now been overturned three times.

No physical evidence linked Woodfox or his co-defendant, Herman Wallace, to the crime. A man claiming to be an eyewitness for the prosecution was released from a life sentence as a serial rapist in exchange for his testimony. And potentially exculpatory DNA evidence was lost under questionable circumstances. Today, the widow of the murdered guard has said that she believes the State failed in its mandate to bring her husband’s true murderer to justice.

In the years just previous to the guard’s murder, Woodfox and Wallace had organized the first prison chapter of the Black Panther Party, working to desegregate Angola State Penitentiary, end systematic rape and violence among the prisoners, stop routine corruption and brutality by the guards, and demand better living conditions in the institution. Even from solitary confinement, Woodfox has continued to win legal suits related to prison conditions and the treatment of prisoners, encourage and empower others, and affect change in the community in which he resides. Nevertheless, States Attorney Buddy Caldwell has called Woodfox “the most dangerous man in the world.” And Angola Warden Burl Cain has stated that until Woodfox disavows his Black Panther principles, he belongs in solitary confinement whether he did anything or not.

Herman Wallace died of cancer a few days after his release on habeus corpus in 2013. After Woodfox’ conviction was overturned by the courts for the third time that same year and the Appellate court upheld the 5th Circuit ruling in November of 2014, the State has continued its ongoing commitment to keep Woodfox incarcerated.  Nevertheless, a petition with more than 25,000 signatures from around the world has been delivered to Governor Bobby Jindal, beseeching the State of Louisiana to release Albert Woodfox forthwith and without delay.

The Association for Humanist Sociology stands with Amnesty-International-USA, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (a coalition of 325 organizations committed to end torture and cruel, inhumane, degrading treatment), Juan Mendez (the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture), and Rep. John Conyers, in supporting the petition.

-- end of release --

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