Bonus Interview: Albert Woodfox’s decades in solitary confinement

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Brandan ‘Bmike’ Odums’ mural of Albert Woodfox in New Orleans, Louisiana. (via Amnesty International)

Brandan ‘Bmike’ Odums’ mural of Albert Woodfox in New Orleans, Louisiana. (via Amnesty International)

Albert Woodfox spent more than four decades in solitary confinement at Angola Prison in Louisiana. He was serving a sentence for armed robbery when, in 1972, a white guard was killed. Despite a lack of evidence, Woodfox and two other men, all Black Panthers at the time, were accused of the crime and sentenced to life in solitary confinement.

They became known as the “Angola 3” and maintained their innocence. For 23 hours every day, Woodfox sat in a 6-by-9 foot cell, only leaving for one hour to shower or exercise by himself. In 2016, he was finally released, and wrote a memoir, Solitary, in 2019. He joined us that year to talk about his life, how he endured the isolation, and his work to end solitary confinement in prisons. Amy Fettig from the ACLU also joined us to talk about solitary confinement’s effects on the mental and physical health of inmates.

Woodfox, who spent what is thought to be the longest time in solitary confinement in U.S. history, died this month at the age of 75.

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