[Ppnews] Angola 3 - Reform, Bobby Jindal Style
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Dec 17 14:51:45 EST 2008
Bobby Jindal Style
Posted December 17, 2008 | 11:55 AM (EST)
We may be on the brink of inaugurating a Black
president, but the miscarriage of justice
unfolding in Louisiana with the case of the
Angola 3 tells a different story about race,
power and accountability in our criminal justice
system. At the top of the food chain is
self-styled reformer and the GOP's supposed
answer to Obama,
Albert Woodfox has spent the last 36 years in
solitary confinement -- 23 out of 24 hours each
day in a 6×9 cell -- for the murder of a white
prison guard, a crime
Despite increasing evidence of Woodfox's
innocence, the State of Louisiana is digging in
its heels. They've pushed back against a federal
judge who has overturned Woodfox's conviction and
ordered his release. The reason is becoming
crystal clear: It's not because they believe that
Woodfox or the other two people referred to as
the "Angola 3" murdered anyone. It's because the
three men were organizing within the prison for
better conditions, an end to sexual abuses, and
the fair treatment of inmates. Apparently, in
Louisiana, seeking justice means you deserve to
be framed for murder and locked away forever.
James "Buddy" Caldwell, the state's Attorney
General, has led the state's fight and Burl Cain,
the warden at Angola, is acting as Caldwell's
henchman. Ultimately, it's Governor Bobby Jindal
who is giving them cover despite being presented
with all the facts and being asked repeatedly to
intervene. So much for the promise of Jindal and
his self-description as a "reformer."
A look at recent proceedings shows that the
desire to keep Woodfox behind bars has nothing to
do with whether Woodfox is guilty or innocent.
Cain has made it clear that he doesn't care. Cain
wants him behind bars for no reason other than
the fact that Woodfox has been a force for reform
from within the prison walls. Says Cain, "The
thing about him is that he wants to demonstrate.
He wants to organize. He wants to be defiant."
Cain has said that even if he knew Woodfox hadn't
killed the guard,
would still want the man isolated. "I still would
not want him walking around my prison because he
would organize the young new inmates," Cain said.
It's not that Woodfox is dangerous. It's that he
is unrepentant in organizing inmates to achieve a
basic sense of decency and livable conditions.
Several months before Judge James Brady
overturned Woodfox's conviction, more than 25,000
to Governor Jindal to get involved. The head of
the state legislature's judiciary committee,
the petitions to Governor Jindal and requested he
intervene. Around the same time, Congressman John
Conyers, chair of the House of Representatives
Judiciary Committee, met with both Woodfox and
Herman Wallace (one of the other Angola 3) and
called for intervention. Jindal's response has been utter silence.
In recent weeks, as pressure has mounted for
Woodfox to be released, Caldwell, the Attorney
General, has gone deeper in attempting to
demonize Woodfox. He has taken to
referring to Woodfox as a "serial rapist," a
completely unsubstantiated claim. Once bail was
ordered and it was expected that Woodfox would be
released, Caldwell's office clandestinely
members of the gated community where Woodfox was
supposed to live, telling them that a murderer
would soon be living among them. Woodfox had been
planning to live with his niece. She and her
family have now been subject to harassment, and
the option of Woodfox living with her has been made virtually impossible.
We've seen unequal and unfair justice before in
Louisiana. We can just look back at
case of the Jena 6 a year and a half ago. In that
case, six black boys were charged with
second-degree murder at the hands of a District
Attorney who threatened that he could "take away
[the students'] lives with a stroke of [his]
pen." The threat followed black students
protesting the hanging of a noose above a "white
tree" at their school, with the charges coming
after a racially-charged fight characterized by
some as a school-yard fight, where the victim was white.
In the case of the Jena 6, there was an outcry
from across the country, culminating in a march
of more than 20,000 in the town of Jena. While
leaders across the country decried the injustice
in Jena, surprisingly, Jindal called those
agitators" -- a phrase that echoed racist
Southerners' response to Civil Rights-era organizing efforts.
While Governor Jindal claims to be a reformer and
has his eyes on the White House, his silence in
the Angola 3 case and his language around the
case of the Jena 6 tell
different story. His idea of "reform" seems more
like an empty slogan and catchy rhetoric than
something he's willing to put into practice.
Perhaps it's time to confront Jindal and ask him
what his idea of reform looks like.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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