Albert Woodfox, the last remaining inmate of the "Angola 3," whose 43-year sentence in solitary confinement has drawn international condemnation from human rights groups, will not be freed from a Louisiana prison on Friday despite a court ruling earlier this week that called for his unconditional release.
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell appealed U.S. District Judge James Brady's ruling and asked a three-panel court for an emergency stay, blocking Woodfox's release.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an order that will keep Woodfox, 68, in prison while the state appeals for him to be retried over the 1972 murder of a guard at Louisiana State Penitentiary, then known as Angola. Woodfox's convictions were previously overturned twice.
The other two members of the Angola 3, Robert King and Herman Wallace, were set free in 2001 and 2013, respectively. Wallace died the day after his release.
According to The Advocate, "The 10-page decision, written by Judge Jerry Smith, notes that 'no showing has been made that any state retrial (or any appeal) will be improperly handled.' Smith said further proceedings would be expedited."
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As Common Dreams previously reported:
The state's case against the [Angola 3] has long been scrutinized for its inconsistencies, lost evidence, and the special favors paid between prison officials and inmates, as well as investigators and jury members. Woodfox has continuously denied his involvement in the death of Officer Brent Miller, maintaining that he and the other men were targeted because of their activism in the Black Panther party, which they said angered the Angola guards, and for their demonstrations demanding better conditions at the notorious facility.
Brady's ruling barred prosecutors from retrying Woodfox for a third time and said that the "only just remedy" in the case is Woodfox's immediate release from prison.