Incarceration Nation

Herman Wallace Wins Release
and Dies Three Days Later

Recorded Address By Jaan Laaman1

 Herman Wallace from the Angola 3 case had his decades old conviction overturned and was freed by a federal judge on Oct. 4th.  He died of liver cancer 3 days later.

 This is Jaan Laaman, your political prisoner voice, coming to you from the federal prison in Tucson, Arizona.  Allow me to share some details of a sad and ugly case of injustice and the incredible, one could call it heroic, determination, resilience and strength of Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox and Robert King Wilkerson—the Angola 3.

 In the early 1970’s, Herman, Albert and Robert were young prisoners in the notoriously racist Angola state prison in Louisiana.  In keeping with the then spirit and times of positive change and justice, they organized a chapter of the Black panther Party inside Angola prison.  The racist authorities unleashed every manner of abuse against them and finally falsely charged and convicted them of the killing of a guard, even though there was no evidence against them and they knew these men had nothing to do with it.  Then they were thrown into segregation.

 Twenty-nine years later Robert King had his conviction thrown out and he was released.  This October 4th, after a long review of Herman Wallace’s legal record, Federal Judge Brian Jackson overturned his conviction and ordered his immediate release.  Herman had been very ill with liver cancer for a long time.  An ambulance drove him from the prison to a hospital where family and hundreds of supporters were waiting for him.  It was a joyous moment, and 3 days later Herman died from his cancer.

 Herman Wallace spent 41 years in a 6 by 9 foot segregation cell.  That is longer that anyone else in U.S. history.  Albert Woodfox remains in segregation, 41 years and still counting.

 Herman did die free, well kind of free, as one can be in this land of imperialist war and hate.  To finally beat his racist frame up case is a victory, no doubt.  To spend 41 years in segregation and to leave almost dead—to die 3 days later, is a pretty hard win.

 And what about the wonderful and courageous Human Right attorney, Lynne Stewart who is right now dying of breast and other cancers in the Carswell federal prison in Texas?  The Federal Bureau of Prisons Director has denied her request for compassionate medical release.  Maybe they will wait until she has 3 days to live and then let her go.

Until next time, remember, Freedom is a Constant Struggle.  And keep Lynne, Albert and the rest of us, political prisoners in your thoughts.”

1 Jaan Karl Laaman (born 1948) was a member of the United Freedom Front. Laaman was found guilty of five bombings, one attempted bombing, and criminal conspiracy, and sentenced to 53 years in prison.

In 1977, an important New Hampshire State Supreme Court case was won by Laaman. Helgemoe was the warden of the New Hampshire State Prison. Laaman sued to receive reading material, which he was refused. Helgemoe claimed that the material was radical, seditious, and even included bomb-making instructions. The New Hampshire Supreme Court decided in favor of Laaman, and this case eventually was used as a justification for offering college level education in New Hampshire prisons for the first time. The case has been cited for various reasons with respect to prisoners’ rights in other states was well.

Laaman’s projected release date is November 14, 2038.