Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jim Crow is Alive & Well

Thanks to Ted for sending this along.

Dear Friend,

For 35 years, Jim Crow justice in Louisiana has kept Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox locked in solitary confinement for a crime everyone knows they didn't commit.

Despite overwhelming evidence of their innocence, the "Angola 3", spend 23 hours each day in a 6x9 cell on the site of a former plantation. Prison officials - and the state officials who could intervene - won't end the terrible sentence. They've locked them up and thrown away the key because they challenged a system that deals an uneven hand based on the color of one's skin and tortures those who assert their humanity.

We can help turn things around by making it a political liability for the authorities at Angola to continue the racist status quo, and by forcing federal and state authorities to intervene. I've signed on with to demand an investigation into this clear case of unequal justice. Will you join us?

When spoke up about the Jena 6, it was about more than helping six Black youth in a small town called Jena. It was about standing up against a system of unequal justice that deals an uneven hand based on the color of one's skin. That broken system is at work again and is joining The Innocence Project and Amnesty International to challenge it in the case of the Angola 3.

Angola sits on 18,000 acres of former plantation land in Louisiana and is estimated to be one of the largest prisons in the United States. Angola's history is telling: once considered one of the most violent, racially segregated prison in America, almost a prisoner a day was stabbed, shot or raped. Prisoners were often put in inhumane extreme punishment camps for small infractions. The Angola 3 - Herman, Albert and Robert - organized hunger and work strikes within the prison in the 70's to protest continued segregation, corruption and horrific abuse facing the largely Black prisoner population.

Shortly after they spoke out, the Angola 3 were convicted of murdering a prison guard by an all-white jury. It is now clear that these men were framed to silence their peaceful revolt against inhumane treatment. Since then, they have spent every day for 35 years in 6x9 foot cells for a crime they didn't commit.

Herman and Albert are not saints. They are the first to admit they've committed crimes. But, everyone agrees that their debts to society for various robbery convictions were paid long ago.

NBC News/Dateline just aired a piece this week about the plight of the Angola 3. And it's time to finally get some justice for Herman and Albert. For far too long, court officials have stalled and refused to review their cases. Evidence of prosecutorial misconduct and constitutional violations have not swayed them.

It's now time for the Governor of Louisiana and the United States Congress, which provides the funding for federal prisons like Angola, to step in and say enough is enough. Please join us in calling for Governor Bobby Jindal and your Congressperson to initiate an immediate and full investigation into the case of the Angola 3.

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