Albert Woodfox free: Final Angola Three prisoner released after 43 years in solitary confinement

Activist pleaded no contest to charge of manslaughter in 1972 death of prison guard Brent Miller

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The Independent US

Albert Woodfox, the last of the ‘Angola Three’, has been released in prison after 43 years of solitary confinement. 

Mr Woodfox and two other men spent decades in solitary confinement after being convicted of murdering prison guard Brent Miller, who was killed at the Louisiana Penitentiary where they were being held.

The 69-year-old, who was initially imprisoned for armed robbery, has maintained his innocence in the killing since his charge in 1972, and is the last of the Angola Three to be released after accepting the lesser charge of manslaughter with no contest.

At the time of Miller’s killing, inmates identified Mr Woodfox as the one who grabbed the guard from behind while others stabbed Miller with a lawnmower blade and a hand-sharpened prison knife.

The star witness, a serial rapist, left death row and was pardoned by the Louisiana Governor after his testimony. He died before the second trial. 

Mr Woodfox had been awaiting a third trial in Miller's death after earlier convictions were thrown out by federal courts for reasons including racial bias in selecting a grand jury foreman. 

Mr Woodfox was the longest-serving prisoner to be kept in solitary confinement.

Officials said that Mr Woodfox and the other members of the Three – Robert King and Herman Wallace -  were kept in solitary confinement due to their Black Panther activism, which was riling up inmates in the Angola prison. 

As part of their activism, the three are said to have petitioned an end to segregation in the prison, as well as protecting new inmates from sexual assault. 

Mr Woodfox described the prison in 1972 as “a horrible place” and said “everybody was just fighting to survive from day to day”.

Expressing gratitude at the supporters who have lobbied for his release over the years, Mr Woodfox said: "Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no contest plea to lesser charges. I hope the events of today will bring closure to many."