Angola 3 member freed to die out of prison

Herman Wallace had spent over four decades in solitary despite likely innocence

By Natasha Lennard

Published October 2, 2013 1:55PM (EDT)

 Angola Prison                   (Wikimedia)
Angola Prison (Wikimedia)

After 41 years in Louisiana State Penitentiary, largely in solitary confinement, Herman Wallace of the "Angola 3" was freed Tuesday night following an order from a federal judge.

Wallace, who doctors say has only weeks to live due to terminal cancer, left Angola prison in an ambulance. He and the two other "Angola 3" members (Robert King whose conviction was overturned in 2001, and Albert Woodfox who remains incarcerated by Louisiana state despite a federal judge ordering his freedom three times) have maintained their innocence in the murder of a prison guard in 1971. Forensic evidence has since aligned with the men's claims of innocence.

On his release, Wallace's legal team released the following forceful statement:

Tonight, Herman Wallace has left the walls of Louisiana prisons and will be able to receive the medical care that his advanced liver cancer requires. It took the order of a federal judge to address the clear constitutional violations present in Mr. Wallace's 1974 trial and grant him relief. The state of Louisiana has had many opportunities to address this injustice and has repeatedly and utterly failed to do so.

Mr. Wallace has been granted a new trial, but his illness is terminal and advanced. However, the unfathomable punishment of more than four decades which Mr. Wallace spent in solitary confinement conditions will be the subject of litigation which will continue even after Mr. Wallace passes away. It is Mr. Wallace's hope that this litigation will help ensure that others, including his lifelong friend and fellow "Angola 3" member, Albert Woodfox, do not continue to suffer such cruel and unusual confinement even after Mr. Wallace is gone.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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