The Solitary Confinement of Herman Wallace

Earlier this month, Transformation: Where Love Meets Justice, a digital publication of openDemocracy, published an article I wrote about the solitary confinement of Herman Wallace, one of the Angola 3, held in solitary confinement for more than 40 years for allegedly murdering a prison guard at the Angola Prison.

No physical evidence ties Mr. Wallace to the murder. The testimony of the only witness in the case has long been discredited. Mr. Wallace and the other two men accused of the crime claim that they were framed in retaliation for forming a chapter of the Black Panther Party in Angola Prison. The widow of the slain guard has spent most of her adult life working to exonerate the Angola 3.

Mr. Wallace was released from prison earlier this month in a cell not much larger than the sofa in my living room for four decades. Mr. Wallace died just three days later of liver cancer.

The injustice of his conviction speaks volumes about how broken our criminal justice system is, but his solitary confinement says even more about who we are as a society. The freedom of Mr. Wallace and so many others still being held in such circumstances is not all that has been lost through this cruel and unusual form of punishment. The humanity of his captors is also a victim. Read the article here

By Scot Nakagawa

Scot is a community organizer, activist, cultural worker, and political writer. He has spent the last four decades exploring questions of racial injustice and racial formation and effective forms of resistance and strategies for change through community campaigns, cultural organizing, popular education, writing, and direct political advocacy.

Scot’s primary work has been in the fight against vigilante white supremacist groups, white nationalism, Nativism, and authoritarian evangelical political movements. In this work, he has served as a strategist, organizer, and social movement analyst. Scot is a past Alston/Bannerman Fellow and the Association of Asian American Studies 2017 Community Leader. He is busy at work on a number of projects, including writing a playbook for anti-fascists, and a primer on race and power. His writings have been included in Race, Gender, and Class in the United States: An Integrated Study, 9th Edition; Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence; and Eyes Right!: Challenging the Right Wing Backlash.

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