Herman needs your support
Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace Albert (left) and Herman (right) in Angola prison, Louisiana, in 2008 - where both spent decades in solitary confinement.

It is with an extremely heavy heart that I bring you news about a decline in Herman Wallace’s health. Herman is one of the so-called ‘Angola 3’ and has been incarcerated in solitary confinement for 41 years in Louisiana, USA.

On 17 April 1972, Herman was one of three young black men put into solitary. Herman and another of the three, Albert Woodfox, remain there. The third member of the Angola 3, Robert King, was released in 2001. He has since dedicated his life to fighting for justice for his friends.

In total, the three men have spent more than 100 years in solitary, mostly in the Louisiana State Penitentiary known as 'Angola' prison. But the Angola 3 refuse to be silenced; their fight for justice continues. It's a fight that Amnesty supports, and I work on the case for Amnesty in the UK. Over the past few years, thousands of you have asked Louisiana authorities to grant the three men the justice they deserve. And now we need you to take action again.

Post your message for Herman as a comment on this blog

Herman’s deteriorating health

Writing these words fills my eyes with tears and my heart with pain, but it is important to let you know that Herman Wallace has very recently been diagnosed with liver cancer. His full prognosis at this stage is unknown.

Herman Wallace is an old and sick man who has spent 41 years in a room no bigger than an average bathroom, for 23 hours a day, every day (for a crime he maintains he did not commit). And while Herman did not receive the death penalty – he was sentenced in 1972 after the Furman v Georgia ruling which temporarily placed a moratorium on the death penalty in the USA – it looks increasingly likely that he will die in these conditions too.

This is heart-breaking news and everyone associated with the campaign remains shocked. But, taking our lead from the Angola 3, we are determined to fight, and we desperately need you to stand beside Herman, Albert and Robert at this difficult time. We need to put our collective voices together, louder than ever, and link arms with these men across the ocean. Please send a message to Herman and Albert, let them know that they have support around the world.

A life in isolation

Solitary confinement is one of those words that people in authority don’t like to use. Some call it Closed Cell Restricted (CCR) Units, others call it isolation. Regardless of the chosen terminology, one can only refer to this condition as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. This has been Herman and Albert’s life for the last 41 years. And it appears to be continuing indefinitely.

Why do the prison authorities remain so committed to keeping Herman and Albert in these conditions, when records show that neither man has committed any serious disciplinary for decades, and the prison’s own mental health records indicate that neither pose a threat to themselves or to others? Well, the short answer is that none of this seems to matter. The view of the prison warden in 2006 was that:

"[Herman's] record...doesn’t really matter a lot. The original sentence, that’s why he’s there, that’s why he’s there and that’s why he’s going to stay there."

Show Herman that despite being in solitary, he’s not alone

One of Amnesty’s roles is to shine a light on injustice wherever it takes place. So I’m asking you to please shine the brightest possible light upon Louisiana, and to send a message or write a postcard (preferably with a picture of your hometown) to Herman and Albert. Please let them know that you are standing beside them at this difficult time. They really do need your support. Albert is taking this news very badly - so while we need to send Herman our support, Albert needs this too.

Any messages or letters will not only give much-needed support to Herman and Albert, but it will also show the Louisiana authorities that the world is watching them.

What next?

I’ll update you as soon as I can over what steps Amnesty is able to take in terms of challenging the authorities over the men's conditions.

I usually listen to music when I’m writing, and as I write these words, I’m listening to ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ by Sam Cooke. A change is so desperately needed for Herman and Albert, and for Herman a change is needed more than ever. A change could prolong his life, but more than that, a change could ensure that the time he has left with us all is spent in conditions which do not amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

As well as their ongoing criminal appeals, the Angola 3 have also collectively taken out a civil suit against the State of Louisiana over their incarceration in solitary confinement. The civil suit is due to be heard in court next year. The men have waited many, many years for their case to be heard and it is so desperately sad that Herman may not be able to see the outcome. But we can all make sure that Herman knows that we will continue campaigning for justice.

"We’re not asking for sympathy. We’re asking for justice. We’re asking for humanity."
- Robert King, 2010

Justice and humanity need to be forthcoming immediately for Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox and Robert King.

Send a message to Herman and Albert

Please show both Herman and Albert - who has been in solitary alongside Herman for 41 years and is taking the news of Herman's health badly - that we are standing with them at this difficult time.

Post a message of support for Herman and/or Albert on this blog, by leaving a comment below. We'll collect the messages and post them to the prisons where Herman and Albert are being held.

You can also post your own letter. A postcard from your hometown would be perfect, and will help show the prison authorities that the world is watching and knows of this injustice.

Herman and Albert are being held in separate prisons now, so if you're posting letters, please write to them both individually at the addresses below. Please also include a line to let Herman and Albert know that they don’t need to respond to you. We need to make sure we don’t increase the pressure on them at this time to respond to all their correspondence. 

Herman Wallace
#76759
SNU/CCR
EHCC PO Box 174
St Gabriel, LA 70776
USA
Albert Woodfox
#72148
David Wade Correctional Center, N1A3
670 Bell Hill Road
Homer, LA 71040
USA

 

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39 comments

Dear Albert, we found out about this story last week in Holland /Amsterdam by the internet news and we are both shocked to hear this is even possible in the united states of america. To punish any human being in such a way is unthinkable in our country. Since the day we found out we light every day candles and we pray and take you in our meditation that your suffering will come to an end very soon, actually today, right Now. PLease Albert, know you are not alone even when it feels like this. In my eyes you are like a bodhisatva, a buddha who came to earth to save all human beings from suffering by taking the pain on their shoulders. My father who heard the story from me yesterday and who is a spiritual teacher also said ; you 3 are saints and you are a saint Albert. We never will forget you. Please know and feel that in your heart. And know in your Consciousness your spirit is always free. No one can take that away from you. I hope something happenes soon so the people who are deciding for you are opening their eyes and feel they have to give you your freedom immidiately back. That all shall be well. With love Henk and Mila

Dear Herman and Albert,
I just wanted you to know that you have both inspired a great many people to challenge the cruel and unjust system that has led to your suffering.
We are all sending our protestations to the Louisianan authorities and we shall, with love and with the unquenchable spirit of what is good and right, do all we can to see you free men.
All I can add is that I sincerely hope that you may derive as much inspiration from us as we do from you. Bless you both.
Callum (from Britain)

Dear Herman and Albert,
I want to thank you both for your courage in standing up to your oppressors to give others a fairer chance: you truly are an inspiration. I'm sorry that you have been subjected to this grossly unfair and inhuman 'punishment', and Amnesty are doing everything they can to see that you get justice.
Thinking of you both, and to the authorities: THE WORLD IS WATCHING.
Keep the faith,
Hannah, London UK

Dear Herman and Albert

Thank you for having the courage and tenacity to stand up for the rights of African Americans, in the face of state repression, all those years ago. Sadly you lost your freedom for that worthy cause, and I am deeply saddened at the terrible retribution that you have been forced to endure.

Herman here in Britain emails to the governor asking for your release are on the way as we speak. Keep strong and know that we are thinking of you and sending you good thoughts.

Albert the fight for your freedom continues, surely one day justice must prevail for you.

Thank you, both for the inspiration you have given to those who fight for the rights of others. Regrettably the fight continues in America and around the globe

Thinking of you both and hoping that Amnesty can help to secure your freedom soon. Keep strong in the knowledge that your enduring spirit is respected by those you do not know.

Louisiana the eyes of the world are watching!!

Joann. Colchester, England

What a life you have led. Thinking of you with love and respect and hoping the authorities will at last show you some respect too.
Barbara, England

Just wanted to let you know that you are being thought of by many people. Hoping for your release and that you find strength at this time. Please dont reply to this.

Dear Herman and Albert,
Like many others I have learned of your situation through Amnesty International and have written to the authorities to demand action and justice, now. I hope it comes as some small comfort and encouragement to know that people all over the world are thinking of you and doing their bit to continue your campaign for justice. You have played your part and I pray that release will come very soon. I look forward to hearing that the State has done the right thing in the end because there will come a time when everyone will be held to account.
God bless you both and please do not feel the need to reply to this message.
Andrew, England

It is very obvious we would choose another place to be if the end comes near. Best wishes from Germany.

Dear Herman and Albert,

We are thinking of you both from England and wishing you strength, peace and comfort and all that you wish for yourselves. We are ashamed of the way you have been treated and hope that you will soon be freed at last. Your courage is inspirational and we salute you.

Please know that none of us expects you to reply to our messages - we just want you to know we are sending you all our best wishes and hope.

Kathleen, England

The picture on the Amnesty website showing you and Albert in Angola Prison nearly brought me to tears. I honestly can not comprehend what you have been through but wanted to tell you that I am thinking about you. I really hope that humanity prevails and you will be released.

Dear Herman and Albert,
Your situations distress me greatly but please never give up hope. There are many, many people around the world paying attention to your situations and the injustice you are both experiencing. We are all thinking of you both and campaigning that justice will be done. Do not give up - we are with you,
Sarah, England

Dear Herman,
You did so much to fight for the rights of black people at a time when so much was so bad. Your actions have made it possible the world over for black people to live with greater dignity and respect. Now people are taking action for you- I hope we can do something for you and that our voices help you retain hope and belief in change.
In support
Emma, England

Dear Herman and Albert,

I just wanted you to know that you are not alone.

We have not forgotten you and we will continue to pressure the authorities for your release.

Helen, Japan

Dear Herman,
I've followed your case for many years, and although I am glad that you've been moved from solitary confinement, I'm continuing to fight for you to be returned to your family, and for you to see out your time on this Earth a free man. Sending you love, peace and strength and wishing you relief from the pain you've suffered for too long.
Very best wishes,
Ginnie O'Farrell, Malaysia

Dear Herman,

You are in my thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

Helen, UK

Hello Herman

Please know that while you may be in solitary you are not facing this alone. This is the first time I have made contact with someone who is the focus of a Amnesty campaign. It is disgraceful you have spent so many years in solitary and I shall endeavour to also put pen to paper about your campaign as the injustice you have suffered can still be addressed and the freedom you deserve delivered. I practise yoga regularly and meditate and I shall dedicate my next kriya to you in the hope that some strong positive energy makes it way into your campaign - it may sound a little 'out there' but I believe this has worked for others in my life who have needed help. Sat Nam (truth is my name) Sue, London

Albert, My heart goes out to you on hearing this news about your friend's health. It is difficult enough for anyone to hear someone they care about has the diagnosis of cancer but given your lack of liberty this must be a very tough time. I do hope you can find the strength you need to get through this. I sense this campaign is gaining momentum and so please do not feel you are alone or give up hope. Amnesty campaigns can work and make a difference. Amnesty has been very 'local' to me recently. I attended the music festival at the park across the road from where I live on Saturday and bought some jams and chutneys from the Amnesty stall with no knowledge of your plight. It is great to know these purchases have gone towards campaigns like yours.
On the BBC radio every morning we have a 'thought for the day' and there was a brill one on Tuesday which ended with the speaker saying this 'There is a power, only the powerless have'.
Best wishes Albert.
Sat Nam, (truth is my name) Sue, East London

Dear Herman,

Thinking of you, hoping and praying that you will soon be free.

Ruth (A teacher in England)

My thoughts and prayers are with you, all the way down in New Zealand. I hope freedom will find its way to your door soon.

You're not alone Herman. I hope you find comfort and peace. Andy (UK)

Dear Herman and Albert,
A society is judged by how it treats each of it's members and you should never have been treated in this cruel and inhumane way. Your strength has taken you this far, now take strength from the others standing at your shoulder and calling for this injustice to end. I wish you a peaceful mind and and soul, knowing that the world is watching and asking for justice for you. I hope you will be able to go home to be with your family soon.
Emma, England.

Hi Herman, I have just been made aware of your appallingly long detention, in solitary confinement. I would like to extend my friendship to you. Especially, now that you are so ill. Please remember that I will be thinking of you here in England, and hoping you might be released to be with your family soon. I am an artist who paints very colourful abstract works; try to imagine arrangements of geometric shapes in reds, yellows, blues, and all sorts of colors, and they might give you a few bright moments. Thinking of you, Herman. Take care, Geoff.

I am writing from England and there are people all around the world who are awake to your plight. People are thinking of you and your courage is something that most of us can never equal. I am so sorry that you have suffered for so long as a result of a so-called justice system that shames the "civilized" world. I hope that the knowledge that so many people support you gives you strength and I do believe that even now there will be a change and you will finally be treated humanely. Thank you for what you teach the rest of us.
Pam

Thinking of you here in England, Herman and Albert.

No need to reply to this message, by the way. I just hope you will be free soon.

You have suffered such appalling treatment. Please know that you are not forgotten and that people far away are thinking of you and petitioning the authorities to show some humanity. From here in London, England, I send you my prayers and thoughts - Jane

Hi Herman,
I am 68 years old next Monday and when I think about the differences in our lives I am humbled. My thoughts are with you and from England I send hope that you will be free to spend time with your family.

You don't need to reply to this message, you have enough to do, but you will be in my thoughts and my wishes for justice.

Mo Easton

Hello Herman,
Just wanted to say that my family in England is thinking about you and the terrible treatment you have suffered at the hands of the "justice" system. I hope that by protesting to the authorities about the injustice of your treatment something humane will happen.
You are in all our thoughts and prayers.
Martin.

Hi Herman, my family and I in England send you our very best wishes.We have heard your story through AI and we have never forgotten you over the years. We admire your courage and the dignity you have shown in the face of such unbelievable inhumane treatment at the hands of the "justice" system. You are an inspiration. We want you to know that many people have you in their thoughts and hold you in high esteem for the way you've handled your situation. I live in hope that the US will wake up to injustice, prejudice and bigotry and really make it the Land of the Free. Love and Respect, Eileen.

Hello Herman,
I don't know what to say really. Your experience makes me feel ashamed and humbled. I can say without a doubt that there are thousands of people who are thinking of you today. Thinking of the injustice that has been done and hoping that the people in charge will do the decent thing. The internet is a wonderful thing in that it can mobilise huge groups of people to put pressure on those who make the 'wrong choices'. From far away in England, I send you my best wishes and hope that goodness will prevail.
Antony

Hello, Herman and Albert! My name is Angela, and I'm British. I'm a long way away from the United States, but kind thoughts, action and support can travel fast these days! There are thousands of people all over the world who are with you in spirit. Think about this, and stay strong.

None of us can begin to imagine your life over the past 40 years. Even if you were guilty, your treatment is utterly disgraceful and inhuman.

I hope that whatever life is left to you, you can spend it with your family who will, I hope, assure you of their love, and of the love of Jesus, your friend and brother who welcomes you into his Kingdom of justice (which you have been denied) and love.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

Dear Albert,

You have already been stronger than most people will ever have to be. I hope the authorities of Louisiana finally rediscover the humanity that they have lacked all these years.

Our thoughts are with you.

Lucy Hayes, England

Dear Herman and Albert,

I am a maths teacher in England and my thoughts are with you.

Dear Herman and Albert,

You have been treated in the most appalling and inhumane way and I hope that because of this campaign the Louisiana authorities are aware that the world is watching and waiting for them to do the right thing. Your strength is an inspiration.

Dear Herman,

I am so sorry that all this has happened to you. It is so inhumane.
I wish you all the very best and hope Amnesty will be able to secure your release.

Patricia

Thanks for your time in writing this blog kmc. I would have done it earlier but I got confused as to how to post a message.
Following the message, 'Post a message of support for Herman and/or Albert on this blog' I got a bit confused as to my next step: but was pleased that I figured it out to post comment. Thanks again,
Richard

'Incarcerated' in my own home due to very poor health I have but a glimpse of your situation. The grieving process can be long and tortuous - however, I'm sure you know that our minds, hopes and prayers give us strength and freedom. This reminds me to order Jarvis Jay's book. From the UK best wishes to you brother from over the seas - but I and many others with thoughts that are kind may be closer to you than your gaolers.

I am thinking of you from far away Europe, and wanted to let you know you are not forgotten. I send hope and peace, and wish the State would listen. We will make some noise !
With my love,
Cath

Our heart goes out to Herman and Albert. No-one should have to suffer through such conditions. Even more so if you are suffering from a terrible disease! The Government of America and the State of Louisiana should feel extremely disappointed in themselves. You are not alone, we all know about your suffering now and are trying to create as much awareness as we can. We will try our best to help you get out of this terrible situation!

I am sitting watching the hands of a clock move over the course a minute ... it is a long minute. To spend even one day, or one week alone is a test for most of us human beings. What it means to spend 41 years incarcerated, alone, is unimaginable. My heart goes out to Herman and Albert. Thankyou for bringing this issue to our attention. Shame on the Government of America and the State of Louisiana; they who call themselves 'Civilised'. Shame.