Al Jazeera News Posted Mon., Feb.22, 2015
An US man kept in solitary confinement for 43 years has been released after his murder conviction was overturned on appeal.
Albert Woodfox was convicted twice for killing a prison guard in 1972 but a judge ordered his release last summer.
The former Black Panther was kept behind bars by a federal appeals court as the state of Louisiana, where he was imprisoned, lodged a challenge against his release.
His release on Friday came after the state dropped the threat of a third murder charge in exchange for Woodfox pleading no contest to lesser charges.
‘Cruel and inhumane’
“Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release,” Woodfox said in a statement after he was freed.
Woodfox’s supporters have insisted his imprisonment and detention in solitary confinement were politically motivated.
His legal team has called on authorities to end the use of solitary confinement as a punishment, describing the practice as “cruel and inhumane”.
The activist was one of three men known as the “Angola Three”, alongside Robert King and Herman Wallace, who supporters say were kept in isolation because they fought for better prison conditions.
King was released in 2001 after his conviction was overturned and Wallace died in 2013 just two days after his release.
Otis Johnson Vid below — My Life After 44 Years In Prison
Stepping out into Times Square in New York City, Otis Johnson is struck by the overwhelming number of people. Everyone seems to be walking quickly with blank faces and wires in their ears.
He’s confused. Being completely removed from society since 1975, Johnson thinks he’s entered a dystopia where everyone has become a secret agent wearing wires. The Steve Jobs era has completely passed him by.
In August 2014, Johnson was released from prison after serving a 44-year sentence for the attempted murder of a police officer. He went to jail when he was 25 years old. By the time he came out, he was 69.
Johnson’s release date was originally scheduled for earlier, but he ended up serving an additional eight months at the age of 69 for a juvenile shoplifting charge he received when he was 17. (Al Jazeera vid)