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

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By Scot Nakagawa

Scot Nakagawa is a political strategist and writer who has spent more than four decades exploring questions of structural racism, white supremacy, and social justice. Scot’s primary work has been in the fight against authoritarianism, white nationalism, and Christian nationalism. Currently, Scot is co-lead of the 22nd Century Initiative, a project to build the field of resistance to authoritarianism in the U.S.

Scot is a past Alston/Bannerman Fellow, an Open Society Foundations Fellow, and a recipient of the Association of Asian American Studies Community Leader Award. His writings have been included in Race, Gender, and Class in the United States: An Integrated Study, 9th Edition,  and Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence.

Scot's political essays, briefings, and other educational media can be found at his newsletter, We Fight the Right at He is a sought after public speaker and educator who provides consultation on campaign and communications strategy, and fundraising.

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