Sickness cited in request for 1 of Angola 3
Officials with the human rights organization said Friday that 71-year-old Herman Wallace has advanced liver cancer and should go home to his family.
"He's terminally ill. (His life expectancy is) up to a year, but it could be far less than that," said Jasmine Heiss, a campaigner for Amnesty International.
Wallace, Albert Woodfox and former inmate Robert King became known as the Angola 3 for spending decades in solitary confinement at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. They joined the Black Panthers after arriving at Angola in the late 1960s.
During the 1970s, Woodfox and Wallace - who were serving 50-year sentences for armed robbery - were convicted of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of prison guard Brent Miller.
Miller, 23, died from multiple stab wounds suffered when he was attacked by a group of inmates in a prison dormitory on April 17, 1972, during a period of general unrest among the inmates and infighting among top Angola officials.
Federal courts are reviewing the murder case against Wallace. Woodfox's conviction has been overturned at least twice.
Jindal's office referred questions Friday about Amnesty's request to the state Department of Corrections.
Pam Laborde, spokeswoman for the corrections department, said the agency provides adequate health care to inmates. She said she could not comment on Wallace's medical condition.
Miller's brother declined comment on Amnesty International's appeal to the governor.
Also Friday, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, and three of his colleagues sent a letter to the Department of Justice to ask for a federal investigation into the Louisiana State Penitentiary and other state prisons for potential constitutional rights violations.
Richmond cited the "extensive use of solitary confinement and other troubling detention practices" in seeking the investigation, as well specifically citing the treatment of the so-called "Angola 3" Black Panther members who were kept in isolation for decades.
"This use of prolonged isolation over a period of 40 years at Angola and other Louisiana (Department of Corrections) facilities is indicative of cruel and unusual punishment, and its blatant and persistent use suggests that this practice is pervasive and not confined to the Angola 3," the letter states. "We have reason to believe that there are other inmates who have received less attention from the press who have also been subject to such onerous, punitive periods of isolation."
The letter also cited a federal court ruling earlier this month to gauge temperature levels at Angola for three weeks after allegations of inhumane levels of heat and a lack of adequate air conditioning.
Amnesty said Wallace now is in isolation at Hunt Correctional Center's infirmary in St. Gabriel.
The organization said Woodfox is at David Wade Correctional Center in Homer, where he is strip searched every time he leaves his cell and forced to talk to visitors through a metal screen.
In addition to freeing Wallace, Amnesty wants the Jindal administration to release Woodfox from solitary confinement.
Robert King, the third member of the Angola 3, left prison in 2001.
King said Friday that Wallace recently began chemotherapy.
"I'm sure his spirits will be lifted higher with Amnesty's support. He hasn't been forgotten," he said.
Jordan Blum with The Advocate Washington Bureau contributed to this report.