Dying ‘Angola 3’ Inmate Herman Wallace Released After 41 Years in Solitary

After nearly five decades in prison, Herman Wallace is finally a free man.

By Jamilah King Oct 02, 2013

After spending more than 40 years in solitary confinement in Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison, Herman Wallace is a free man. Wallace, 71, has advanced liver cancer and was granted immediate release on grounds that women were excluded from his grand jury. Wallace was taken to a hospice in New Orleans last night.

Wallace’s legal team released the following statement on Monday:

"Tonight, Herman Wallace has left the walls of Louisiana prisons and will be able to receive the medical care that his advanced liver cancer requires. It took the order of a federal judge to address the clear constitutional violations present in Mr. Wallace’s 1974 trial and grant him relief. The state of Louisiana has had many opportunities to address this injustice and has repeatedly and utterly failed to do so.

"Mr. Wallace has been granted a new trial, but his illness is terminal and advanced. However, the unfathomable punishment of more than four decades which Mr. Wallace spent in solitary confinement conditions will be the subject of litigation which will continue even after Mr. Wallace passes away. It is Mr. Wallace’s hope that this litigation will help ensure that others, including his lifelong friend and fellow ‘Angola 3’ member, Albert Woodfox, do not continue to suffer such cruel and unusual confinement even after Mr. Wallace is gone."

A former Black Panther, Wallace and fellow inmates Robert Hillary King and Albert Woodfox, were put in solitary confinement in 1972 after they were convicted in the fatal stabbing of 23-year-old prison guard Brent Miller. Both Woodfox and Wallace maintain their innocence in Miller’s killing, instead saying that they were targeted because they’d established a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1971. The three came to be known as the Angola 3.

Wallace’s story was the subject of the film "Herman’s House", which chronicled his friendship with an artist who encouraged him to imagine his dream home.