[Pnews] UN rights expert urges US to end 'torture' of prisoner, Albert Woodfox

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Oct 8 10:20:01 EDT 2013

  UN rights expert urges US to end 'torture' of prisoner

October 7, 2013 2:01PM ET

*Calls on US to release last member of 'Angola 3,' says 40 years of 
solitary 'clearly amounts to torture'*

The United Nations' special rapporteur on torture criticized the United 
States' use of solitary confinement in prisons Monday.

Special rapporteur Juan E. Mendez called on the U.S. to end the 
indefinite solitary confinement 
imposed on Albert Woodfox, who has been in solitary for over 40 years 
after being convicted of murdering a Louisiana prison guard.

Woodfox and two others were moved to isolation units at the Louisiana 
State Penitentiary in Angola, where they came to be known as the "Angola 3."

"Keeping Albert Woodfox in solitary confinement for more than four 
decades clearly amounts to torture, and it should be lifted 
immediately," Mendez said.

"The circumstances of the incarceration of the so-called Angola 3 
clearly show that the use of solitary confinement in the U.S. 
penitentiary system goes far beyond what is acceptable under 
international human rights law," he added.

Herman Wallace, another member of the Angola 3, died Friday, less than a 
week after being released 
<http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/10/5/man-freed-from-prisonafter41yearsdiesinla.html> after 
more than 40 years in solitary confinement. Wallace, 71, had been 
diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and stopped receiving treatment.

The third member of the Angola 3, Robert King, who was convicted of 
murdering a fellow inmate in 1973, was released in 2001 after his 
conviction was overrturned.

Mendez has made similar statements over the years to both the U.N. and 
U.S. government regarding the U.S.'s employment of solitary confinement, 
but this year's condemnation comes in the middle of continuing controversy.

In September, California inmates ended a nearly two-month hunger strike 
<http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/9/5/ca-prison-inmatesendhungerstrike.html> over 
the use of isolation cells. Although by the end of the strike the number 
of participants had dwindled to 100 inmates, there were 30,000 prisoners 
on hunger strike in July.

The protests ended after two Democratic state legislators, Senator Loni 
Hancock and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, promised to hold public hearings 
this fall on inmates' allegations that gang leaders are often held for 
decades in isolation units.

/Al Jazeera and wire services/

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