Albert Will Be Free

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Free At Last

After 43 years in prison, most in solitary confinement in a six-by-nine-foot cell, for the murder of a prison guard he consistently vowed he didn't commit, lbert Woodfox was released on Friday afternoon, on his 69th birthday. The longest solitary prisoner in the country whose conviction had been overturned three times, Woodfox was released after pleading "no contest" to a lesser charge; the plea is not an admission of guilt, and Woodfox continues to be declared innocent of the main murder charge. He walked out of the Louisiana State Penitentiary alongside his brother Michael Mable, climbed into a car and drove off the prison grounds a free man.

Woodfox was the last of the “Angola 3,” three prisoners held for decades in the notorious Angola prison for what they and worldwide supporters said was revenge for their prison activism as Black Panthers. Even the guard's widow believed they were innocent, proclaiming that after years of soul-searching and looking at evidence, "I could no longer believe what I was told to believe by (the) state." Amnesty International called Woodfox' release "long overdue and undeniably just," adding the case serves "as a tragic reminder of the cruelty inflicted by the prison system at its most extreme." In the end, Woodfox paid tribute to that system's other victims. He said he survived "the nightmare of this hell" thanks to the "courageous support" of his other two Angola brothers: Herbert Wallace was released in 2013, but died just two days later from liver cancer, and Robert King was released in 2001 after 29 years in solitary. Friday, King  waited outside the prison for Woodfox' release. Asked by a reporter - who evidently had no idea who he was - what he thought about Woodfox' plea, King said simply and softly, "Albert will be free."


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Wallace, King, Woodfox

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