In 1972, while serving a five-year bid in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola for armed robbery, Albert Woodfox was convicted for allegedly working with fellow inmate Herman Wallace to stab and kill a guard. The two men maintained that they did not commit the crime, but were targeted and isolated because they founded a chapter of the Black Panther Party to address conditions inside the prison. Woodfox, Wallace and Robert King (who was accused of murdering another inmate), were placed in perpetual solitary confinement, earning them the name the Angola 3.
King was released in 2001, followed by Wallace in 2013—just days before he died from cancer. While recanted witness testimony and a lack of physical evidence resulted in Woodfox’s conviction being overturned three times, he was not released until Friday (February 19), when he pleaded no contest to manslaughter and aggravated burglary charges. For the past 43 years, Woodfox reportedly spent 23 hours of each day in a 6’ by 9’ cell. Democracy Now! reports that he spent more time in solitary confinement than anyone in the history of the United States.
Newly freed, Woodfox sat down with Democracy Now! for an exclusive interview. In it, he—joined by King—shares about how it feels to be free, the first thing he did after leaving the prison and how books helped him stay connected with the world during his time inside.