Albert Woodfox's time behind bars is not over. An order barring his release was extended today by a federal appeals court, NBC News reports. The timeline: A federal judge this week ordered Woodfox's "immediate" and "unconditional" release and barred the state from trying him a third time in the 1972 death of prison guard Brent Miller. But the state appealed, and a three-judge panel of the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked his release. That panel today extended the order until the state's appeal plays out. The judges ordered an expedited appeals process, with final legal briefs in the case due Aug. 7. Woodfox was placed in solitary in 1972 after the death of Miller, whose body was found in an empty prison dormitory; he has spent four decades there.
State officials have objected to the term "solitary confinement": They say Woodfox is allowed to watch TV through the bars of his cell, talk to other inmates in his tier, read books, talk to visiting chaplains, and leave his cell every day for an hour. How polarizing the back-and-forth surrounding Woodfox's possible release has been: Miller's widow, Teenie Roger, is convinced Woodfox is innocent. "I wish the state of Louisiana would stop spending all this money paying lawyers to keep Albert in prison for even longer than the 43 years he has already been there," she said in a statement this week, per the Advocate. But Wanda Callender, Miller's sister, told the Advocate in a phone call this morning that Rogers had been married to her brother for just two months before he died ("she is not part of our family and never has been") and that Woodfox "has a debt to pay to society, as well as our family." (Read more Louisiana stories.)