What can we do? Think globally, act locally? Pray for peace? Here at Angola 3 HQ we just put one foot in front of the other and continue to move slowly forward, celebrating incremental but important victories along the way.
Back at the beginning of this effort, when it was 25 years in solitary, no one was optimistic that we'd be able to overturn their convictions quickly. It was almost impossible to believe that 15 years later federal judges would have overturned convictions, magistrates would write that the Angola 3's time in solitary confinement has "durations so far beyond the pale" that there is not "anything even remotely comparable in the annals of American jurisprudence," and that Amnesty International would begin a world-wide action campaign to bring attention to the case and explicitly call for Herman and Albert's immediate release from solitary. Even more unbelievable today is that with all of this support, Herman and Albert are still in solitary and their conditions of imprisonment have become more oppressive.
After railroading both Herman and Albert into convictions for the senseless and brutal murder of young Angola guard Brent Miller in 1972--in hearings replete with prosecutorial misconduct, purchased and coerced testimony, and racial bias--the state of Louisiana continues to spend millions of dollars to cover the many layers of misconduct in this case. As if this wasn't bad enough, State prison officials still go out of their way to make everyday miserable for Herman and Albert with nonsensical restrictions that keep them in shackles, isolated in tiny cells with little to no relief from the monotony and horror of continued confinement, in spite of their clear innocence.
Many of you have stood by us in this effort for over a decade and more than anything we want this success for you as well as Herman and Albert. We realize how many causes pull at our heart and our purse strings and we honor your continued commitment over the many years that this case has drawn on. We can't promise victory, but we are sure doing everything we can to make victory possible.
Stand with us again for another year, as we all struggle to make some gains in all the challenges we face by giving what you can towards the A3 effort and forwarding this message to others who believe in justice, asking if they can do the same.
Your contributions allow us to support the A3 legal team, provide commissary funds for Herman and Albert, to help pay for postage and phones, as well as the hard costs that come with mounting a social justice campaign. As we await rulings on the civil case and Albert's case from Judge Brady and Herman's case from Judge Jackson, we continue to build the movement against solitary and for Herman and Albert's freedom.
Update on Albert's Third Attempt to Overturn His Conviction
After months of waiting for transcripts from Albert's May hearing, both sides were finally able to submit their final arguments to the Court in November. The ball is now in the hands of Federal Judge James A. Brady to decide in coming months whether Albert's conviction will be overturned for a 3rd time.
The first two times Albert's conviction was overturned it was based on judges who cited racial discrimination, prosecutorial misconduct, inadequate defense, and suppression of exculpatory evidence during both trials for the 1972 murder of Brent Miller. Unlike before, this proceeding seeks to overturn based on apparent discrimination in the selection of a grand jury foreperson in 1993, during the lead up to his 1998 retrial.
The summary arguments again make quite clear that not only is the State's statistical analysis of the selection process flawed and unreliable, but even using their erroneous baseline numbers and inappropriate calculations, the numbers are still statistically significant to prove discrimination and overturn Albert's conviction. We are hopeful the Court will agree.
Robert King in Chicago at the Solitary Confinement and Human Rights Conference
"The Midwest Coalition for Human Rights' strategic convening on Solitary Confinement and Human Rights on November 9 at Northeastern Illinois University drew over 100 academics, activists, survivors, faith community leaders, and community organizers united in their commitment to ending inhumane treatment of prisoners through solitary confinement. The event was also attended by government representatives including Mara Silver, Senate Judiciary Committee Staffer attending on behalf of Senator Dick Durbin," reports the event organizers' website.
Further, "The one-day conference featured keynote speakers Terry Kupers, Institute Professor at The Wright Institute and Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, who provided an overview of the detrimental mental health impacts of solitary confinement, and Robert King, a political prisoner who spent 29 years in solitary confinement, who gave personal testimony about his time in prison. Other distinguished speakers included Heather Rice of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Jean Casella of Solitary Watch, and Brian Nelson of the Uptown People's Law Center."
--Read the full report here.
--Listen to Robert King interviewed on Wanda's Picks Radio Show here.
"Last week, I was lucky enough to be in the audience for a truly remarkable event: a conversation between two men whose lives have been indelibly altered by American's brutal prison regime, Robert King and Omar Deghayes. At first glance, it might seem as if these two men have nothing in common. King grew up in New Orleans in an era of violent racial repression and is a Black Panther to this day; he was convicted by an all-white jury in 1973 for a murder he did not commit, and spent 32 years in Louisiana state prison. In his earliest childhood, Deghayes lived in Libya, but after his father was murdered by Gaddafi, he and his family fled to the UK. Deghayes was arrested in Pakistan in 2002, where he had been living with his Afghan wife and child, and spent over six years detained at Guantanamo without charge or trial."
--Aviva Stahl was previously interviewed by Angola 3 News, alongside Hamja Ahsan for the article entitled, Do US Prisons Violate European Human Rights Law?
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Read the full interview here.