Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Solitary the 'Zenith in Human Cruelty,' Writes Ex-Angola Inmate After Woodfox's Release: Mother Jones
February 23, 2016 at 6:08 PM

Former Louisiana State Penitentiary prisoner Wilber Rideau coauthored an article published Monday (Feb. 22) in Mother Jones in which he commends Albert Woodfox for dodging psychological damage after spending decades in solitary confinement at Angola.

Woodfox, 69, was released from state custody Friday (Feb. 19) after spending more than four of decades of that time in solitary confinement. His release came after pleading no contest to manslaughter and aggravated burglary. He and another inmate, Herman Wallace, were placed in solitary confinement, referred to by the Louisiana Department of Corrections as closed-cell restriction, after they were accused of killing 23-year-old prison guard Brent Miller in 1972. Wallace died in October 2013, two days following his release from prison, after his conviction was overturned. Attorneys for Woodfox, who along with Wallace has always maintained his innocence, have said no physical evidence exists linking them crime. His attorneys note a bloody fingerprint found from the decades-old crime scene does not match either Woodfox or Wallace.

Albert Woodfox said he looked to the world outside his prison cell to cope with his confinement.

Rideau -- a former editor of The Angolite, Angola's inmate newspaper -- wrote in in Mother Jones about his own experience of spending 12 years in solitary confinement: "Having spent 12 years like that, I'll tell you: Life in the vacuum of a cell is spirit-killing, mind-altering, and the zenith in human cruelty. That Woodfox and others like him have survived their experience mentally and emotionally intact is nothing short of miraculous because an isolation cell is designed to break you."

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