by Gwen Filosa, The Times-Picayune
Thursday March 27, 2008
For the first time in almost 36 years, two state prisoners from New
Orleans serving life for the 1972 murder of a guard have been moved
from solitary confinement into a special dormitory created for
maximum security inmates.
Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox were moved from solitary into a
maximum security dormitory Monday, said Angie Norwood, assistant
warden at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
Wallace and Woodfox had been in solitary since their convictions in
the death of guard Brent Miller, who was stabbed to death at a time
when the prison was segregated and a Black Panther Party chapter had
been formed there.
Wallace and Woodfox, who with a third inmate were known to supporters
as the "Angola Three," have said their 36 years of solitary
confinement at the prison amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
Both are appealing their convictions. Both were serving time for
armed robberies when the prison blamed them for Miller's killing.
The men's lawyers, who have recently captured national attention with
the Angola Three's story, said they were taken by surprise with the move.
"They just did it," attorney Nick Trenticosta said. "It has nothing
to do with what we did in the lawsuit. We've been in negotiations to
settle the lawsuit. We had no knowledge or forewarning that they
would be moved to a dormitory. It is a dorm created just now."
Wallace and Woodfox have sued the state over their stay in solitary
confinement at Angola, where they and others are kept in single cells
for 23 hours a day and only released for showers and exercise.
"This is no longer a secret," said Trenticosta, who plans to visit
his clients Friday at the prison located about 2 1/2 hours from New Orleans.
Robert King, the third member of the Angola Three, had his conviction
for killing another inmate overturned. He was released in 2001 after
29 years in solitary confinement. King formerly used the surname Wilkerson.
Gwen Filosa can be reached at email@example.com or (504) 826-3304.