(NEW ORLEANS) — After spending 41 years in solitary confinement, a Louisiana inmate who is suffering from terminal cancer is expected to die as a free man.
Attorneys for 71-year-old Herman Wallace said he left the Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel by ambulance and was taken to a New Orleans hospital for treatment of advanced liver cancer.
Wallace, who was serving time for an armed robbery conviction, was one of three inmates who were convicted in the 1974 slaying of a prison guard.
The men became known as the “Angola 3” and were moved to solitary confinement, where Wallace spent more than four decades until a federal judge overturned his conviction on Tuesday and ordered his immediate release. Their case was the subject of a 2010 documentary narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, In the Land of the Free.
U.S. District Chief Judge Brian Jackson in Baton Rouge ordered a new trial in the case because he said women were unconstitutionally excluded from the grand jury that indicted Wallace in the stabbing death of the guard, which “violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of ‘the equal protection of the laws.’….thereby rendering his conviction and resulting sentence unconstitutional.”
“Herman Wallace has been afforded some measure of justice after a lifetime of injustice,” his attorneys said in a statement.
“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,” his attorneys wrote.
Woodfox and Wallace have maintained their innocence in the guard’s killing and have alleged they were targeted because they organized a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1971, which they used to advocate for better prison conditions.
Woodfox was ordered to be released last year, but the state appealed his case and he is still in custody. The third member of the Angola 3, Robert King, was released in 2001 after spending 29 years in solitary confinement.
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