October 30, 2013

I was outraged by David Cole’s Oct. 25 op-ed column “Decades in solitary.”

According to Mr. Cole, Herman Wallace was kept in solitary confinement for 41 years at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in a small cell for 23 hours a day, without human contact except for guards. He was released two days before he died. Although Mr. Wallace and co-defendant Albert Woodfox were convicted of fatally stabbing a prison guard, no physical evidence linked the two men to the crime. In fact, the two men believed they were framed because they started a Black Panther Party chapter and protested the prison’s notoriously brutal conditions.

At the very least, this treatment is contrary to the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against “cruel or unusual punishment.” Unfortunately, this is happening elsewhere, too. Please, can someone do justice for Mr. Woodfox immediately? His conviction has been overturned, so why should he remain in solitary confinement while the state appeals? 

Sandra Ricci, McLean