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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
LOUISIANA MUST RELEASE ALBERT WOODFOX

Update info:
17 Feb 2015
Country:
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Subject:
Albert Woodfox
Gender: m
Period:
24 Mar 2015
Distribution date:
17 Feb 2015
UA No:
029/2015

Lawyers for Albert Woodfox, held since 1972 in solitary confinement, have filed for bail after the federal appeals court denied state request for further review. The state must stop its ‘campaign of vengeance’ against Albert Woodfox and allow him his freedom.

Albert Woodfox was convicted of the 1972 murder of a prison guard in Louisiana State Penitentiary along with his co-defendant, the late Herman Wallace. The state’s evidence against the men consisted of the unreliable and inconsistent testimonies of three inmate witnesses, all of whom received favourable treatment in return for their statements, and whose trial testimonies were different from statements given just after the murder. There was no physical evidence linking the men to the murder; in fact, the only physical evidence presented at the trial – a crime scene fingerprint – exculpated the men.

Albert Woodfox, an African American man, was convicted in 1973 before an all-white jury. It took almost 20 years of appeals for this conviction to be vacated on the basis of ‘ineffective assistance of counsel’ and a new trial granted, but during the new trial in 1998 the jury found Albert Woodfox guilty and reconvicted him of murder. In 2008 on the basis of deficiencies of defence counsel for his second trial and the overall weakness of the state’s case, Albert Woodfox’s petition for habeas corpus relief, filed in 2006, was granted. However, Buddy Caldwell, Louisiana’s Attorney General appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to not only block Albert’s release on bail, but to appeal the ruling to overturn his conviction. Based on procedural arguments the Fifth Circuit court reinstated Albert Woodfox’s conviction. In 2013, the case was reviewed again on the basis of discrimination in the selection of the grand jury foreperson. The court ruled for a third time that his conviction should be overturned.

The Attorney General appealed this decision to the Fifth Circuit court, which ruled in late 2014 to uphold the lower court’s decision to overturn Albert’s conviction. Once again, the Attorney General submitted a request to the appeals court to have it rehear the case before the entire banc of sitting judges. On 4 February the appeals court rejected this request. Two days later Albert’s lawyers filed a request for bail. The hearing is set for 23 February. The options available to the Attorney General now are to oppose bail and to appeal the case to the Supreme Court. There is a small window of opportunity before the bail hearing to ensure that the Louisiana authorities are deluged with messages of support for Albert Woodfox, calling for his freedom. It is critical that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal shows leadership, and ensures that Albert Woodfox’s cruel and unjust isolation is not his legacy.

Take action

Please write immediately in English or your own language:

  • Calling on the authorities not to oppose bail for Albert Woodfox, as his conviction, gained through two flawed trials, has been overturned three times over four decades, he has an exemplary prison conduct record and at 67 years-of-age is in poor health;
  • Noting that no other prisoner in the U.S. has been held in solitary confinement longer than Albert Woodfox. This is cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and according to the UN expert on torture, possibly torture.  

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 24 MARCH 2015 TO:
Bobby Jindal
Office of the Governor
PO Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA, USA 70804
Fax: +1 225 ­342 ­7099
Email: Info@BobbyJindal.com
Salutation: Dear Governor Jindal

Attorney General
Buddy Caldwell
Office of the Attorney General
556 Jefferson Street #4
Lafayette,LA, USA 70501
Fax: +1 225 326 6297
Email: constituentservices@aga.state.la.us
Salutation: Dear Attorney General

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

Name: Albert Woodfox

Gender m/f: m

UA: 29/15 Index: AMR 51/007/2015 Issue Date: 10 February 2015