Albert Woodfox is far from the “dangerous” man that state prosecutors claim he is, and should be released from an imprisonment that’s included more than 40 years in solitary confinement, Woodfox’s lawyers argued in a brief filed late Wednesday.
The brief on behalf of the last jailed member of the “Angola 3” was filed as the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals considers an appeal by prosecutors to block Woodfox’s release from prison. The state Attorney General’s office on Tuesday requested an emergency hold on that release after U.S. District Court Judge James Brady ruled that Woodfox should be set free and blocked a retrial of the case accusing him of killing a prison guard.
“[D]ecades of the State’s own institutional file records document that (Woodfox) is non-violent, and rule-abiding,” wrote attorneys Woodfox’s George Kendall and Carine Willams to counter allegations by the state that Woodfox is “both dangerous and a flight risk.”
The State filed its motion under seal, making it unavailable to the public.
But the response from Kendall and Williams hint at the State’s latest arguments in keeping Woodfox in prison for the 1972 murder of corrections officer Brent Miller at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Woodfox’s two convictions for the killing were overturned, but he was re-indicted Feb. 12.
Woodfox was convicted of that killing along with Herman Wallace, who died in 2013 days after his release. Along with a third inmate, they were known as the “Angola 3” because of their long stints on a solitary tier at the state prison.
“The State endeavors to make something threatening out of the fact that Petitioner has received more than $30,000 from others since 2000,” Woodfox’s lawyers wrote, noting the sum equals approximately $175 a month. They claim the money hasn’t been misused.
Though an advocacy group has raised $1.4 million, some of which paid for Woodfox’s legal fees spanning two decades, his attorneys argue the amount “pales in comparison” to the money the state has spent in staff and private counsel, spending over $1 million on Woodfox’s civil case about solitary confinement alone.
The emergency hold on Woodfox’s release is until Friday at 1 p.m.