The Louisiana Department of Corrections has transferred Herman Wallace, who has spent more than three decades in solitary confinement in the state’s notorious Angola prison, to another prison in the state, Mother Jones has learned. Wallace is a member of the so-called Angola 3, a group of prisoners who spent decades in solitary after being convicted of prison murders based on questionable evidence. The prolonged confinement of Wallace and fellow Angola 3 member Albert Woodfox is the subject of a civil habeaus corpus suit charging Angola with cruel and inhuman punishment. Wallace’s transfer follows stories by NPR and Mother Jones raising questions about the evidence and witness testimony used to convict Wallace and Woodfox of the 1972 murder of Angola prison guard Brent Miller.
According to one of Wallace’s lawyers, Nick Trenticosta, prison officials moved Wallace unexpectedly–and without informing his attorneys– on Wednesday night to the Hunt Correctional Facility in St. Gabrielo, Louisiana. Hunt is used as both a permanent prison and as a way station where prisoners are evaluated before being sent on to other facilities. Wallace’s defense team has been scrambling to contact their client, though they have been told by corrections officials that they won’t be able to speak with him until next week. (Corrections officials at Angola did not return a call for comment).
Federal Magistrate Judge Docia L. Dalby, in a decision rebuffing the state of Louisiana’s attempt to dismiss the civil case, describes the decades of solitary confinement endured by Wallace and Woodfox as “durations so far beyond the pale that this court has not found anything even remotely comparable in the annals of American jurisprudence.” In a 2008 deposition in the suit, Angola Warden Burl Cain claimed the men had been held in solitary for so long due in part to their association with the Black Panther party.