Albert Woodfox- 43 years of Solitary confinement for nothing?

Taken by Mark Hartman for the New Yorker

The New Yorker profile discusses Albert Woodfox and how he was able to survive solitary. He was in and out of jail for multiple petty crimes. Through being arrested he met people in the Black Panther Party. He was mesmorized saying “It was the first-time I’d ever seen black folk her were not afraid”.

At 18 he was sentenced 50 years for robbing a bar, where he was later placed on the Panther Tier. Eighteen other members were awaiting trial. When entering court, after being beaten, he said “I want all of you to see what these racist, fascist pigs have done to me.”

He was then taken to Angola, the largest maximum security in the USA.

At Angola a guard, Brent Miller, was stabbed 32 times. With the warden describing Woodfox as a “hard-core Black Panther racist” it was assumed the murder was a political act. He was taken to solitary.

Woodfox was held in solitary confinement for 43 years, longer than any prisoner in American history.

Eventually the truth came out that the bloody fingerprints didn’t match any of the men, and so at the age of 69, Woodfox was realised.

Although Woodfox committed crimes, the writing techniques that Rachel Aviv used made me feel sympathy for him. Using quotes of how social workers described Woodfox as “respectful”, “positive” and “co-operative” and using stories from when Woodfox was younger.

The impression this profile gave me on Woodfox is that he was a strong-willed man. He fought for what he believed in and was stuck up for his people. He never caused real harm, being framed for a murder he didn’t commit and still remaining strong and well-behaved all those years he was locked in solitary.