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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: U.S. | Police State and Prisons
Law Professor Angela A. Allen Bell interviewed about the Angola 3
Professor Angela A. Allen-Bell is the author of "Perception Profiling & Prolonged Solitary Confinement Viewed Through the Lens of the Angola 3 Case: When Prison Officials Become Judges, Judges Become Visually Challenged and Justice Become Legally Blind,” by Angela A. Allen-Bell, Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly (Summer 2012). She is interviewed here by the Carl Nelson Show in Lafayette, Louisiana.
(ABOVE PHOTO: Prof. Bell speaks in support of the Angola 3 on April 17, 2012, outside Louisiana Attorney General James Caldwell at the State Capitol building in Baton Rouge, LA.)
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Featured below is an excerpt from an earlier interview with Professor Bell by Angola 3 News. You can read the full interview here:
Angola 3 News: How did you first learn about the case of the Angola 3?
Angela A. Allen-Bell: Over ten years ago, I happened upon a newspaper article about the case. It caused me pause. I continued with my normal routine until the memory of that headline entered my mind in 2009. Work on an article about injustices in post-Katrina Louisiana made me recall that headline I had read years earlier. Once I finished that publication, I could not overcome the need to know the end of the Angola 3’s story so I began to research the case. To my complete surprise, the end had yet to arrive.
A3N: Why did you choose to focus on the Angola 3 case as “lens” to view the use of solitary confinement in US prisons today? What does their case tell us?
AB: It’s unfortunate, but there is no shortage of cases to choose from. I could have selected many other cases, but that was never a consideration. My article was born of a desire to understand the Angola 3 case, based on those lingering questions that remained after I saw the headline about the case years ago. Given this, I never entertained the thought of using any other case as a case study.
Now that the article is complete and the research is done, I am certain I made the right choice in using the Angola 3 case for a case study. I say this because there is nothing in their prison records that could hinder a reasonable mind from seeing the flaws in the current solitary confinement “process” (used for lack of a better word, but with no intention of legitimizing what is happening in American’s penal institutions today).
For example, there are some inmates in prolonged isolation who have recent disciplinary infractions or who have a history of repeated institutional violence or who have medical opinions supporting the housing assignment. In such a case, the average person would not give thought to a conversation about abolishing or modifying the solitary confinement system. In such a case, the average person would dismiss conversations about harm being done to the inmate as being deserved.
In contrast, the facts surrounding the Angola 3’s stay in solitary confinement compel action and challenge silence because there are no recent disciplinary infractions and no medical or psychiatric findings to justify or support the housing assignment. Prison officials have even said that Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox are not physically dangerous to others and are not an escape risk. Because of this, the Angola 3 case makes for the perfect case study because there are no factual distractions. When you look at their case, you can see the issue without anything obstructing your view.
Playwright Parnell Herbert is also featured on this radio show.