Release of Man Held in Solitary Since 1972 Blocked

Albert Woodfox won't be free until Friday at earliest
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 9, 2015 11:03 PM CDT
Updated Jun 10, 2015 2:19 AM CDT
Release of Man Held in Solitary Since 1972 Blocked
In this Feb 12, 2015, image made from video and released by WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge, Albert Woodfox walks into a courthouse in Louisiana.   (WBRZ-TV via AP)

Prison activist Albert Woodfox, the last member of the "Angola Three" inmates held for decades in solitary confinement, will have to wait a bit longer to see if he'll experience the "immediate" and "unconditional" freedom ordered by a federal judge. A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked the release of Woodfox, who spent more than 40 years in isolation after being accused of killing a guard. His supporters say it was retribution for his Black Panther Party activism to protest prison conditions. The order came a day after a federal judge ruled that the state can't fairly try Woodfox, now 68, a third time for the killing of a prison guard 43 years ago, and that the "only just remedy" would be setting him free after all the years he spent in "extended lockdown."

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell is appealing the release order, saying Woodfox is a killer who should remain locked up. The stay by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans blocks Woodfox's release until 1pm Friday, providing time for the court to decide whether to accept the state's appeal. His attorney, George Kendall, says he is "hopeful and optimistic" the court will release Woodfox while the state's appeal is pending. But he acknowledges the court could order Woodfox to stay in jail while that process plays out. He describes the conditions Woodfox has served his time under as "brutal," and blasts the attorney general for fighting to keep him incarcerated. "This case ought to end," he says. (More Louisiana stories.)

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