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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  February 22, 2016 3:00pm-4:01pm PST

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02/22/16 02/22/16 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> i guess when we walked out there in front of the center and i seen friends and family, it kind of hit me and that i was free. amy: today, a democracy now! exclusive. after more than 43 years in solitary connement, bert wofox is free man
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the former black panther spent more time in solitary confinement than any man in u.s. history. he was reased in louiana on friday. in h firstroadcastg to ew, albe woodfox joinss fromewrleans ang with another former black panther who was imprisoned with him in angola prison, robert king. we wanted to wait until we see him walk out of prison. that is what he did. we were convinced he would eventually walk out the door, but we wanted to make sure that he would be walking out the door before we begin to celebrate within ourselves too much because we have been let down too many times. amy: robert king and albert woodfox, our -- are two of the angola 3. herman wallace died of cancer a few days after he was released from prison in 2013. we will also speak with billy
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sothern, one of our woodfox's lawyers about his path to freedom. all of that and more coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. our woodfox from who spent more than 43 years in solitary confinement, more than anyone else in the united states, has been released from the angola prison in louisiana. woodfox walked free on friday after he entered a plea of no contest to charges of manslaughter and aggravated burglary of a prison guard more than four decades ago. prior to friday's settlement, his conviction had been overturned three times. woodfox in the late fellow angola 3 member herman wallace were accused in 1972 of stabbing prison guard brent miller. they always maintained their innocence, saying that were targeted because of their attempts to address horrific prison conditions by organizing a chapter of the black panther party in prison.
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herman wallace was freed in 2013 just days before he died from cancer. we will be joined by albert woodfox as well as robert king t in of the surviving angola 3 woodfox's first broadcast interview after headlines. in syria, bomb attacks around the syrian capital damascus and in the city of homs have killed at least 150 people and wounded scores more marking one of the , deadliest days in the nearly five-year-old conflict. isil has claimed responsibility for sunday's attacks, which included a car bombing and two consecutive suicide attacks near a shiite shrine outside damascus and two bomb attacks in the city of homs. the blasts came the same day secretary of state john kerry announced a provisional agreement between the united states and russia on a ceasefire in syria. u.s. airstrikes on a suspected isil training camp in libya have killed two serbian hostages. the hostages were a
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communications officer and a driver on staff at the serbian embassy who were taken hostage in november. they were among about 50 people killed in friday's u.s. airstrikes. serbian prime minister aleksandar vucic said serbia had been close to securing the hostages' release. >> this is the first major hostage crisis the republic of serbia has faced. our state security acted very professionally, very seriously. our people could have been freed, as we've said 70 times before. amy: the pacific island of fiji has been hit by the most powerful storm ever recorded in the southern hemisphere. cyclone winston killed at least 17 peoe and fltened enre villages. thousands were forced to evacuate. aid groups have warned of a looming health crisis after supplies of fresh water were blocked in some areas. former secretary of state hillary clinton has beat vermont
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senator bernie sanders in the nevada caucuses, winning 53% versus sanders' 47%. clinton celebrated her victory. >> we need more than a plan for the big banks. the middle class needs a raise and more jobs. andeed jobs that pay well cannot be outsourced. jobs that provide dignity and a future. amy: exit polls show sanders again dominated among young people, with 82% of under 30 voters. clinton won strong support among african-american voters, a bad sign for sanders heading into this week's democratic primary in south carolina. despite needing hillary clinton in the earlier new hampshire primary, a tally of delegates so far shows sanders has just 70 delegates while clinton has 502. , that's in part thanks to unelected superdelegates, often lobbyists or elected officials
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who represent the party elite and are not beholden to what voters want. sanders vowed to continue his campaign for the nomination. >> we have come a very long way in nine months. it is clear to me, and i think most observers, that the wind is at our backs. we have the momentum. believe when -- i the democrats assemble in philadelphia in july at that convention, we're going to see the results of one of the great political upsets in the history of the united states. amy: in south carolina, republican candidate donald -- sealeded his place his place as frontrunner, winning the primary with 32.5% of the vote. florida senator marco rubio closely be taxes -- texas ted
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cruz, taking second place. spokeafter a story he about a u.s. general who executed muslim prisoners a century ago using bullets dipped in pigs' blood. there's no evidence the story trump told about general john pershing's actions in the philippines is actually true. >> and he took the 50 terrorists and he took 15 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs blood. you heard that, right? he took 50 bullets and he dipped them in pigs blood. and he had his men loaded his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. in the 50th person he said, you go back to your people and you tell them what happened. amy: following a decisive loss in the south carolina primary, former florida republican governor jeb bush ended his bid
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for the 2016 republican presidential nomination. >> i am proud of the campaign that we have run to unify our country, and advocate conservative solutions that would give more americans the opportunity to rise up and reach the god-given potential. but the people of iowa and new hampshire and south carolina have spoken, and i really respect their decision. so tonight, i'm suspending my campaign. amy: in kalamazoo, michigan, officials say six people were killed and two injured when an uber driver went on a four-long -- for our long shooting rampage, opening fire on people seemingly at random. jason brian dalton allegedly shot people at three different locations -- a woman outside an apartment complex, a father and a son looking at cars at an auto dealership and a group of women , parked at a cracker barrel restaurant. in bolivia, president evo morales appears to have narrowly lost a referendum allowing him a
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fourth term in office. morales' current term ends in 2020. the referendum would have amended the constitution to allow him to remain until 2025. in 2006, morales took office as bolivia's first indigenous president. in brussels, greenpeace activists have blocked the entrance of a building to stop negotiators from the united states and european union from meeting behind closed doors to negotiate a massive trade deal. opponents say the transatlantic trade and investment partnership would expand corporate power at the expense of public health and the environment. saskia richartz, deputy director of greenpeace europe, announced the protest. >> greenpeace has blocked negotiators from discussing a trade to that threatens democracy, our environment, and working conditions. this doubted all about trade. it is about transferring power from the people to big business.
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-- protect our food and air from being poisoned. amy: in new york city, nearly 100 people gathered in harlem to mark the 51st anniversary of malcolm x's assassination and to demand justice for residents of flint, michigan, over the lead poisoning of the city's drinking water. peggy shepard with the harlem-based group "we act" spoke about the connections between the water crisis in flint, which is a predominately african american city, and high levels of pollution in other african american communities such as harlem. >> we're here to stand in solidarity with flint because this is a gross example of environmental racism. we started in harlem because of the inordinate amount of pollution in this community that is been making people sick, and we work within the national environmental justice movement to right these wrongs because millions of people in this country, predominantly people of
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color, do not have clean water, clean air, and safe schools. amy: to see our big a report from flint, "thirsty for democracy," go to democracynow.org. during the demonstration, protesters spoke out in front of a banner with one of malcolm x's us iconic phrases "by any means , necessary." sunday marked the 51st anniversary of malcolm x's assassination. in texas, a health official has been forced to retire after co-authoring a peer-reviewed study on the negative effects of anti-choice state policies on reproductive health. rick allgeyer, director of research at the texas health commission, co-authored a study that documented a drop in birth control access after texas banned planned parenthood from a state family planning program. allgeyer stepped down after a republican lawmaker complained about the study. a judge has ordered pop star kesha to remain in a contract that forces her to work with the
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producer she says drugged and raped her when she was 18. kesha was shown sobbing in court after a judge upheld the contract. the manhattan district judge said, "my instinct is to do the commercially reasonable thing." sha contract requires ke record six more albums with sony, despite accusations of abuse against producer luke gottwald. harper lee, the pulitzer prize-winning author of the novel, "to kill a mockingbird," about racial injustice in the south, has died at the age of 89. lee, who avoided the public spotlight, was the center of media attention last year when her publisher announced the release of, "go set a watchman," an early version of "to kill a mockingbird," which her attorney said she stumbled upon decades after it was written. harper lee died in her sleep in her hometown of monroeville, alabama, which the town of
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maycomb in "to kill a mockingbird" was modeled after. she was buried in a private ceremony. and the italian scholar and author umberto eco, best known for his bestselling 1980 novel , "the name of the rose," has died at his home in milan. he was 84 years old. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i am amy goodman. today, a democracy now! exclusive. joining me in hosting today's broadcast is criminal justice correspondent renee feltz. here. 3 it is great to be welcome to all of our viewers and listeners around the country and around the world. after more than 43 years in solitary confinement, albert woodfox is a free man. woodfox spent more time in solitary confinement than anyone in the united states. he was released from prison in louisiana on friday after four decades. the former black panther was kept in a six by nine cell for 23 hours each day. albert woodfox was released
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friday after he entered a plea of no contest to charges of manslaughter and aggravated burglary of a prison guard more than four decades ago. prior to friday's settlement, his conviction had been overturned three times. on friday, woodfox left prison where he been held pending his trial and headed to his mother's grave site. >> i need to go say goodbye to my mother. i wasn't allowed to go to her funeral when i was in angola. and my sister as well. renee: albert woodfox was serving a five-year-sentence for armed robbery at the louisiana state penitentiary in angola when he and fellow prisoner herman wallace were accused in 1972 of stabbing prison guard brent miller. the two men have always maintained their innocence, saying they were targeted because they organized a chapter of the black panther party to address horrific conditions in angola prison, a former cotton
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plantation. woodfox, wallace, and robert king became collectively known as the angola 3. for decades, amnesty international and other groups campaigned to free the three men . woodfox was the last remaining member of the group to be locked up. robert king was freed in 2001 when his conviction that he a killed a fellow inmate was overturned. herman wallace, he was freed in 2013, just days before he died from cancer. at the state of louisiana refused to release woodfox until now. amy: after apple woodfox --albert woodfox's was overturned, he was successfully tried again in 1998. in 2014, federal judge ruled he should be set free on the basis of racial discrimination in his retrial. when then louisiana attorney general buddy caldwell announced plans to try woodfox yet again, u.s. middle district court judge james brady ordered his release based on five factors.
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"mr. woodfox's age and poor health, his limited ability to present a defense at a third trial in light of the unavailability of witnesses, this court's lack of confidence in the state to provide a fair third trial, the prejudice done onto mr. woodfox by spending over years in solitary 43 confinement, and finally the very fact that mr. woodfox has already been tried twice and would otherwise face his third trial for a crime that occurred over years ago." 40 but the u.s. fifth circuit then approved woodfox's continued detention. albert woodfox was released on friday after he entered a plea of no contest to charges of manslaughter and aggravated burglary. well, joining us now in a broadcast exclusive from new orleans is albert woodfox himself giving his first , televised interview since his release on friday. also joining us is robert king,
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the other surviving member of the angola 3. and albert woodfox's attorneys, -- attorney billy sothern, joins , us from new orleans. we welcome you all to democracy now! albert woodfox, how does it feel to be free? >> i haven't quite figured it out yet, but it feels great. amy: well, can you talk about what happened on friday as you left the parish jail in new orleans? this was after 45 years in prison, 43 years in solitary confinement. your the longest standing prisoner in solitary confinement in the united states. klux i guess, you know, for a moment there, everything seemed sit around we had to
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about an hour waiting on the final documents to be faxed to the detention center. and when that finally happened, you know, my brother and my attorneys, they walked out with me. toily and friends began express joy and excitement. we got in my brother's car and we slowly drove. we answered a few questions, and then we proceeded to go say goodbye to my mother. amy: you visited your mother's grave? >> yes, i did. well, we were not able to see because of the time involved. when the my brother got there, the cemetery was closed so we
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went to another cemetery where i could say goodbye to my sister and my brother-in-law who passed away while, you know, i was still in angola. renee: albert, it is so great to have you join us. can you explain the significance of going to visit your mother's grave site and why that was the first place that you wanted to go? awayll, when my mom passed , i had made a request to go to her funeral and same a final goodbye. the request was denied. the same thing happened with my sister when she passed away. i family and friends made arrangements to allow me to go and say goodbye.
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again, the warden denied that. for some years now, there was always this into mess -- emptiness when it came to my mom and my sister because i never had a chance to say a final goodbye. it was is why i was -- important one of my first acts of being free was to relieve that burden off of my soul. amy: albert, you were in solitary confinement for more than four decades at angola, what is known as a plantation prison, known for the country in africa where enslaved men and women were brought from, and serving at that plantation, enslaved that plantation. then it became a prison were thousands of mainly african-american prisoners are held. , where youur cell lived. >> i lived in a concrete cell
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with bars in the front of it. as you enter the cell, there is a metal bunk attached to the wall and also, nation sink and toilet bowl --, nation sink and toilet bowl against the back wall. keep yourow did you sanity? how many hours a day you were kept in this cell. you ever allowed out? >> we got one hour a day. when we were first put in ccr in 1972, myself, herman wallace, and robert king, we knew that if we had any chance of maintaining know, not, you
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allowing the prison system to break us, that we had to keep our focus on society and not become institutionalized where we were only concerned with the things that were going on in the prison. "we," when youay are allowed to go out, did you go out alone or with other people for the hour a day? >> well, when we first were put in ccr, they used to let everybody out who wanted to hourr, the take the together. and some ofpassed the inmates started to protest some of the things that were going on, then in order to
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, they started letting us come out one at a time. in: were you able to read your cell? >> yes. it is one of the tools we used stick an focused and to neck to the outside world. amy: what did you read? >> history books, books on malcolm x, dr. martin luther know,james baldwin, you any kind of literature that i could basically get a hold of. amy: and how often were you allowed to see visitors? time, the visiting system, you were allowed 10 people on your approved visiting list and each person could visit
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twice a month. but, because of the long distance and the economic situation, my family was not able to come as much as they would have liked to. so they tried to come at least once a month. amy: you were sentenced to five years when he first went to prison, but then when we come back from the break, i want to talk about what ultimately you are charged with after you and a guest to a be joined by next, robert king as well as the late herman wallace, formed a chapter of the black panther party in the angola prison. we are talking to albert woodfox . he is the person longest held in solitary confinement in the united states. he was released on friday after 45 years in prison, after 43 years in solitary. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "yellow ribbon" supporting amnesty international's campaign to free albert woodfox who was just freed on friday. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with renee feltz. this is a democracy now! exclusive hour. out in aodfox speaking television, radio broadcast for the first time since his release from a parish jail in new
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orleans on friday, met by his brother, the longest standing solitary confinement prisoner in the united states. 43 years ind solitary. we are also joined by robert king, another member of what became known as the angola 3. albert woodfox, robert king, and herman wallace. 29 years inspent solitary confinement for a murder he did not commit. billy sothern is also with us, one of the trial attorneys representing albert woodfox. robert king, you have traveled the country, the world, trying to have the other members of the angola 3 -- herman wallace who aftern 2013, a few days he was released from angola, died of cancer, and albert
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woodfox freed, telling the stories. can you tell what it means for you to have albert free? >> yes, thank you, amy. of course i can tell you. personally,r me, the joy and jubilation in which, you know, that albert may not have felt, the crowd felt it. we were overjoyed. not that he wasn't. the crowd, perhaps -- the clouds over him probably prevented the jubilation from being present, but it was there. and the crowd showed it. it was a good thing for the crowd and a good thing for me personally. i think it was a victory for rendered,nally being if you want to call it justice.
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justice delayed is justice denied. nevertheless, it happen. i was overjoyed it had "finally" happen. we had been disappointed and let down so many times. andas a joyous occasion albert is here now and he is acclimating himself to his environment, his new environment. go thank you, king. i want to go back to 1972 in the original charge that herman wallace and albert woodfox faced that they murdered a prison guard or -- prison guard brent miller. the key witness was hezekiah brown who said he witnessed the murder of brent miller. it is credibility was later called into question. i want to go to a clip from the documentary, "in the land of the free," a lawyer who represented the angola 3 describes hezekiah
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brown. after this, you will hear the film's narrator, actor samuel jackson. this is nick trenticosta, >> hezekiah first told the investigators at the prison that he was nowhere around, he did not know anything about the murder. later, he is dragged from his bed at midnight, put under the bright lights of interrogation and told, if you help us crack the case, we will get you your freedom. at that point, he said, it was wallace and woodfox. providedcal author evidence of just how pliable hezekiah brown could be. browny called hezekiah and he said he saw woodfox and three other black men.
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>> hezekiah was one you could put words in his mouth. renee: that last voice hilton butler, a former warden at angola, talking about hezekiah brown, a key witness for the state's case against albert woodfox and herman wallace. talkt woodfox can you about the allegations against you and who is and who was hezekiah brown? time, myself and herman wallace were very active in the prison population, trying to organize resistance to some of the corruption that was going on, the brutality, guys being murdered almost every day were brutally beaten -- or brutally beaten. so we think that when officer miller was killed, we all
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automatically became public enemy number one as farce the security staff and the administration of the louisiana state president -- penitentiary. shock, although it was a it was not a surprise. the a-3e first one of to be law that -- locked up in the dungeon for the brent miller killing. in the next day, i was moved to ccr where i remained until i freedom on my birthday, february 19. amy: you were released on your birthday, february 19? >> yes, quite a birthday gift. amy: on friday as you are
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released, louisiana state attorney general jeff landry said in a statement, he thanked the family of brent miller and "their support has been is terminal in today's very difficult decision." advocatester told the newspaper she felt the plea deal "was slammed in our face." brent miller's widow has long thatshe did not believe prisoners albert woodfox and herman wallace killed her husband. she released a statement last june saying "i think it is time the state stop acting like there's any evidence that albert woodfox killed brent. after a lot of years looking at the evidence and soul-searching and praying, i realize i could no longer just relieved what i was told to believe by a state that did not take care of brent when he was working at angola and did not take care of me when he was killed." teenieto go to a clip of rogers, who was just 17 when her husband brent miller was stabbed
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to death in 1972. she was interviewed for the 2010 documentary, "in the land of the free." >> iave been living th for 36 years. there is not a year that goes by that i do't ha to reli this. it just keeps going and going. and these men, i mean, if they did nine do this -- and i believe that they didn't -- they have been living a nightmare for 36 years. amy: that was teenie rogers come also called teenie verret. your response, albert woodfox, when you hear officer miller's wife saying that she did not believe that you were guilty? this, the reason you were put on -- put in solitary confinement and held a from more than four decades. know, i was -- i
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guess for lack of a better word, learnedocked when i that she had taken a position that after looking at the guessce and, you know, i just never felt right to her a part of whoever killed her husband. and i think it was very brave on to publicly state that. renee: amy: louisiana attorney general jeff landry issued a statement about the state's plea agreement with you saying -- "after carefully considering all of the facts and circumstances surrounding this case and its procedural history, as it stands today our team of prosecutors , believes this plea is in the best interest of justice."
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landry was recently elected to replace the former louisiana attorney general buddy caldwell, who had successfully appealed to prevent albert woodfox's release last year after a federal judge ordered him freed. another key figure no longer active here is longtime angola warden burl cain, who said he would keep woodfox in lockdown, regardless of his crimes, since "i still know that he is still trying to practice black pantherism." cain resigned last year after he came under investigation for violating prison policy by entering into real estate deals with family members of angola prisoners. i am wondering if you can talk about the role of burl cain and buddy caldwell in the angola 3 case, and these latest developments, albert? >> well, obviously, burl cain and buddy caldwell made this
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case personal. so personal to the point where they totally disregard constitution am a statutory law, ,ue process, lack of evidee d just decid that, y kw, i wauilty, hman was uilty, d they wld do evything ey cou to keeps in jl untiwe both die almttately, they succded,ut as tric as i was lose hern, he dd a fr man. albert, can you clarify, please, this no contest plea that you entered on friday? talk about -- we have come to this point after more than four decades where you were able to
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come to this agreement with the state after maintaining your innocence this entire time, now you have a no contest plea. that everyone understands what that means, and maybe why you did that. so can you explain that for us? nololl, the plea contendre, to me, it was a plea for my freedom, not a plea of guilt. factor in my age. i have some serious health issues, and i wasn't getting the proper treatment for these issues. i wanted to get back to my family. my lawyers, my attorneys, they worked so hard to make this a reality so when this opportunity came up, as distasteful as it
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was, it gave me the opportunity to reunite with my family. just -- amy: let me ask billy sothern, your lawyer, about the significance of buddy caldwell finally in louisiana he was defeated, and jeff landry, the new attorney general coming into office, billy sothern, you're one of the trial attorneys who represented albert woodfox, one of the angola 3. talk about what that change of attorney general meant and also what prison warden cain reinforced outmanned. caldwell,y general the former attorney general, had such a deeply -- deep misconceptions about albert and this case. he returned -- referred fairly recently to mr. woodfox as one
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of the most dangerous men on the planet. appraisalmeone who's of this case is never made any sense. he also committed to refusing to test a bloody fingerprint that was found at the crime scene that was never matched to anybody that specifically did not match albert, did not match his codefendant, did not match anyone that had been tested against. but they had the fingerprints of all of the inmates at angola on that day in 1972, and said fastly refused to compare that fingerprint against other inmates, which of course, could have identified the real killer. buddy caldwell's words on that were, well, we will be full by this fingerprints. this is someone who had such misconceptions about this case that really any sober minded person replacing him and making an honest assessment of the case was going to come to it without
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all of his vices and prejudice and come to a different conclusion. we really believe that is part a more happened is that reasonable assessment was made about the case, a more reasonable assessment was made about albert. because frankly, no one could have been more unreasonable than buddy caldwell. amy: burl cain, the significance of the warden and the conditions that albert woodfox and herman well,e, before that as robert king, were held in? >> obviously, you know, for 43 years, for 46 years, albert has been incarcerated there at angola and he has struggled and robert has struggled and others have struggled to improve things. a testament to these minute they essentially outlasted some of
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ways mean spirited people who were very dedicated toaying tt their circumstces neve changed so advating onheir own belf,evelopin folwers all around t wld, you ow, albert, bert, otrs have en in a vetlast improble wayven figus le burlain anduddy caldwelwho seed so entnched he. amy:nd what lo contendre means as a lawyer? served woodfox who has 45 years in prison, 43 of those years in solitary confinement. what it means now to plead no contest to manslaughter and aggravated, what was it, burglary? >> yes.
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essentially what it means is that albert gets freed. the legal proposition is albert can that maintain his innocence, he has maintained his innocence as he has consistently for 43 years, but it is an acknowledgment that there is evidence that could support a conviction. of course, albert has been wrongfully convicted two times by an array of witnesses who lied to secure his conviction. we litigated everything incredibly strenuously in this case, and we were very dedicated to make sure the injustice that have previously occurred in albert's case twice with two convictions did not repeat itself. and we litigated issues like excluding the prior witness testimy of heziah brow, otritnessesand theyanted just bng in tse
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tranript of eseitnesses. in ft, theseitnessesad liednd in fa, the gornment d suppreed evince that would ha aowed albt to imach thes witnesses at the earlier trials. be surprised to find out that notwithstanding very aggressive and confident litigation on that point by ,yself and robert mcduff albert's other trial attorney, we lost those issues at the trial court just recently. we appeal those and it was our intention to appeal those all the way to the louisiana supreme court, but we lost the ago on those issues in the first circuit court of appeals. so those testimonies were coming in. i have been practicing a louisiana long enough to know that i need to make a realistic assessment of the courts here and at the injustices that had previously occurred in albert's case, we could not begin to read that those would not occur again. parish, a jury a
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in the heart of louisiana, we litigated, for instance, that the venue needed to be changed because of course our could not get a fair trial in a community where his infamous and where their prison guards and associates of the prison in a most every home. we did a 43 year survey of the incredibly damning media portrayal of albert and we lost that notion. so the trial was going to be back in the same prayers. this bogus testimony was going to come back in. in addition to all of that, we have albert's health problems and we have as long struggle and he had an opportunity for freedom. that was absolutely the choice that we advised him to take theause for us, albert's -- incredible things he had done in greater nowonly be that he is out. you deserve the opportunity to be out and he deserved the trustunity not to have to
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a louisiana jury to make the right choice, and two. amy: we're going to take a break in the come up to this discussion. i want to ask albert woodfox what it was like chained and shackled to see herman wallace for the last time, when you got to say goodbye to him, along with robert king will stop the three of you together for a final time as herman lay dying in the prison, but a judge demanding of the prison warden that herman wallace be freed or else the warden would go to jail. we are talking to albert woodfox , the long-standing solitary confinement prisoner in the united states, billy sothern's attorney, and robert king, also a member of the angola 3 who spent 29 years in solitary confinement. this is democracy now! we will be back in a minute. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "almost free," by sarah quintana, a new orleans artist who was a pen pal with the late herman wallace, member of the angola 3 who was held in solitary confinement for more than 40 years. he died in three days after his 2013, release from prison in louisiana last october. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with renee feltz. we are bringing you a democracy now! special today, exclusive hour with two of the angola 3,
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albert woodfox, the longest standing solitary confinement prisoner in the notice states, was freed on friday. this is his first distended television radio interview. robert king was also -- is also in the new orleans studio, a member of the angola 3, held for 29 years in solitary confinement and billy sothern, one of the trial attorneys representing albert woodfox. albert, i want to go to a clip of herman wallace in his own words describing the impact of solitary confinement on his body. he spoke in phone calls from the prison that was featured in a documentary "herman's house." , >> being in a cage for such an extended period of time, it has its downfalls.
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amy: that was herman wallace describing solitary confinement. in theay dying of cancer hospital, a judge ruled he should be released immediately. the prison warden said he would not be coming back to the prison immediately and the judge said, if he did not release herman wallace, an ambulance had pulled up to the prison, that the warden himself would be in prison. before he left that prison, albert woodfox and robert king got to say goodbye. albert, what was it like? because as you came to see herman, you and robert king learned that herman would be freed, and you are the ones to deliver that news to herman wallace. you were shackled at the time? .> yes you know, because the attorney general office would not allow herman, robert, and myself to
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have a conference with our attorneys, we had asked the they werentervene, so on court instructions to at least once a month to allow us -- all three of us to me together with our attorneys. these visits were taking place at hunts. at the time, herman was battling cancer. robert was free and i was being held in david wade corrections institution. so they had to transport me. but on this particular visit, and they didry ill not expect him to live beyond the weekend, but somehow he did. and thedoc wanted to cancel the visit, so i was desperate to see herman because i knew how sick he was.
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made thatstion was they would let the visits go if i would agree to keep my restraints on. and one of the restraints on is called a black box. it is supposed to be used for travel only. hands in alocks your very uncomfortable and painful position. but, you know, nothing short of death would have stopped me from going to see herman that one last time. so when i got there, robert and were in thettorneys hospital room with him. battling.see he was i kind of felt like he knew he was dying, but he was determined
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to last for that one last visit, you know. andas laying in the bed king and i and the lawyers, you know, we were just talking amongst ourselves, talking to him, trying to find some way to comfort him as well as ourselves . and one of the attorneys was ams,ed away, corinne willi and she had a conversation with george kendall, who was our lead attorney, that herman's conviction had been overturned and he again ordered released -- and he had been ordered released immediately. all of us, you know, we were just shocked, stunned, he related. we just did know what to do. we tried to comfort him and talk to him and try to get him to understand what had happened.
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for me, i had to leave at 3:00 so i did not get a chance to see him actually leave. but it was just a great, great moment will stop it kind of made up for all of the pain and suffering that all three of us went through being locked in solitary confinement. renee: albert, you and king are still pursuing a civil rights lawsuit and your attorney george kendall, mishandling the civil case said friday in a statement, "although we are overjoyed that our woodfox is finally free, it is indefensible he was forced to endure decade after decade in harsh solitary confinement conditions, longer than any prisoner in the history of the united states. albert survived the extreme and cruel punishment of 40 plus years in solitary confinement only because of his extraordinary strength and character.
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these inhumane practices must stop. we hope the louisiana department of corrections will reform and greatly limit its use of solitary confinement as have an increasing number of jurisdictions around the country." of course, this has happened both of the local level as well as federally with president obama and announcing solitary reforms in an executive order and recently announcing in an op-ed he wanted to reduce solitary confinement for juveniles. i want to get your take on this reason your pursuing a civil lawsuit still and your response to some of these reform measures that have been announced. know, herman, robert, and myself, we had been transported to a punishment camp in angola because we had participated in a hunger strike to force the
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us someration to give usane treatment and provide with an avenue in which we could help ourselves, improve ourselves. we had always -- this was not the first suit we had to file about long-term cell confinement. from theere released prison camp, we decided that we needed to try to challenge this again, needed to try to change this barbaric treatment of locking a man in a cell for 23 hours a day for decades. and for us, it was about that, and it continues to be about that. renee: what do you think of the reforms that have been announced for president obama and other jurisdictions that are taking
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steps to reduce solitary confinement? i know you follow the news a little bit. are they far enough and what would you like to see happen? resultknow, i think as a of our suit and thanks to an international coalition to free the angola 3 and amnesty international and other groups around the country and around the world, we inspired other guys in solitary confinement and other states in other prisons to try to do something about these conditions. so we put this solitary confinement issue before the american people, before the people of the world, and it just started building. it got to the point where it wasn't just about the angola 3, but about solitary confinement. amy: we have to leave it there,
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albert, but we will continue our discussion and post it online. albert woodfox, the long-standing solitary confinement prisoner in the u.s., released on friday. thank you to robert king and billy sothern. democracy now!úúúúúúúú
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