R.I.P. Herman Wallace

herman-wallaceIn addition to his wrongful conviction and life sentence resulting from political targeting based on his involvement with the Black Panther Party, Mr. Wallace was additionally punished by prison officials, who kept him in solitary confinement conditions for over forty years, despite decades of exemplary behavior. The extreme duration of solitary confinement in the case of three men, including Mr. Wallace, has drawn international condemnation of the treatment of the ‘Angola 3’.

As one judge wrote, the extreme length of Mr. Wallace’s solitary confinement was “so far beyond the pale that this Court has not found anything even remotely comparable in the annals of American jurisprudence.” Wilkerson v. Stalder, 00-Civ-304 (M.D.La)

Cruelly, prison officials also neglected to provide basic health care, including monitoring Mr. Wallace for liver cancer, which he was known to be at risk of developing.  Liver cancer is treatable if caught in a timely way.

In summer 2013, after Mr. Wallace lost 40 – 50 pounds, he was given a medical assessment and found to have advanced and terminal liver cancer.  Even after this diagnosis, it took over a month for Mr. Wallace to get chemotherapy treatment. That’s why an oncologist and a specialist in internal medicine and geriatric patients have submitted sworn affidavits recommending that Mr. Wallace should be immediately released for medical reasons, so that he can receive adequate medical and palliative care.

However, even after his habeas petition was granted on October 1, 2013 and a new trial ordered to remedy the constitutional rights violations in the original trial, the Louisiana prison system failed to release him.  Only after the Judge made repeated orders and refused to leave his chambers was Herman released on October 2nd.  He passed away on October 4th.

Litigation challenging Mr. Wallace’s unconstitutional confinement in solitary confinement for four decades continued in his name. 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.