[Pnews] Last remaining Angola 3 inmate behind bars seeks to block strip, cavity searches

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Nov 12 22:07:02 EST 2013


  Last remaining Angola 3 inmate behind bars seeks to block strip,
  cavity searches

By Lauren McGaughy, NOLA.com | The Times Picayune 

on November 12, 2013 at 3:06 PM, updated November 12, 2013 at 3:07 PM

Angola <http://topics.nola.com/tag/angola/index.html> 3 member Albert 
Woodfox, the only remaining member of the trio behind bars, will appear 
in court Wednesday (Nov. 13) to argue against what he says are daily 
strip and cavity searches he undergoes at the hands of prison guards.

Woodfox and his legal team say the searches are in violation of a 1978 
consent decree issued by then-U.S. District Court Judge Daniel W. 
LeBlanc that ruled these searches violated the rights of inmates and 
must be curtailed and, in many cases, ceased.

In March of this year, LeBlanc passed away. Almost immediately, 
Woodfox's suit said, officers at David Wade Correctional Center in 
Homer, where he is currently jailed, revived the practice.

The restraining order was filed earlier this fall, but U.S. District 
Court Judge James J. Brady delayed the hearing 
Woodfox's lawyers failed to file a preliminary injunction. After counsel 
filed the injunction, the hearing was set for Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. in 
the Middle District Court in Baton Rouge.

This isn't the first time inmates have asked the courts to order 
Louisiana's corrections officials to cease this kind of treatment, but 
the restraining order request is a reminder of the decades-long legal 
battle between the Angola Three and Louisiana's prison system.

Woodfox was serving time in the state penitentiary, also known as 
Angola, when he and fellow Angola 3 member Herman Wallace were indicted 
in the 1972 stabbing murder of prison guard Brent Miller.

Woodfox and Wallace maintained their innocence in the murder, saying 
they were implicated because the two were instrumental in forming the 
prison's first Black Panthers Chapter to fight the culture of rape and 
violence prevalent there at the time.

A third inmate named Robert King (formerly Wilkerson) was also 
implicated in murder of a fellow inmate after he became active in the 
Panther chapter. All three found themselves in closed-cell restriction, 
the practice of holding prisoners for 23 to 24 hours a day in a 
single-occupancy 6' x 9' cells.

In the late 1970s, the three sued prison officials at Angola for the 
repeated use of strip and cavity searches. The consent decree was issued 
in 1978 and remains in place.

King remained in solitary for 29 years until his originally sentence was 
overturned and he was released in 2001. Wallace was in solitary for just 
shy of 42 years before he was released on Oct. 1, 2013. He died three 
days later 
from advanced liver cancer.

Woodfox is the only remaining member of the group behind bars.

"The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections has held 
Plaintiff Albert Woodfox...in solitary confinement for the past 41 years 
in violation of his constitutional rights," the request for a temporary 
restraining order reads.

"In further violation of those rights, Defendants now strip search 
Plaintiff Woodfox and inspect his anus every time he enters or leaves 
his cell. These strip searches occur as often as six times a day."

On Nov. 4, Angola inmate Kenny "Zulu" Whitmore filed a joinder 
<http://media.nola.com/baton_rouge_crime/other/Joinder.pdf> to be added 
to Woodfox's case. In the hand-written filing, he requests a transfer 
from closed cell-restriction to the general prison population and 
$150,000 in compensation.

Whitmore was charged with second-degree murder in 1977 after the 
ex-mayor of Zachary, a community just north of Baton Rouge, was found 
dead on his family farm.

Whitmore has maintained his innocent of the murder and filed suit 
against the state in 2006, saying retroactively imposing a 1979 state 
law that extended life sentences for second-degree murder was 

The judge ruled against him and his subsequent appeal was also thrown out.

Whitmore's joinder makes no mention of the strip and cavity searches 
that hold a prominent place in Woodfox's case, but says he has been kept 
in closed-cell restriction for 27 years. It also states that during 
Whitmore's time at Angola, he has denied access to educational and job 
skills programs.

Counsel acting on behalf of Woodfox would not comment on the joinder, 
and said they were not aware of Whitmore's intent before it was filed 
last week.

*. . . . . . .*

/Lauren McGaughy <http://connect.nola.com/user/lmcgaughy/posts.html> is 
a state politics reporter based in Baton Rouge 
<http://www.nola.com/baton-rouge/>. She can be reached at 
lmcgaughy at nola.com or on Twitter at @lmcgaughy 

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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