Wullie Beck meets Robert King in Glasgow on 2 April 2010
37 years ago, deep in rural Louisiana, three young black men were silenced for trying to expose continued segregation, systematic corruption, and horrific abuse in the biggest prison in the US, an 18,000-acre former slave plantation called Angola.
Peaceful, non-violent protest in the form of hunger and work strikes organized by inmates, caught the attention of Louisiana's first black elected legislators and local media in the early 1970s. State legislative leaders, along with the administration of a newly-elected, reform-minded governor, called for investigations into a host of unconstitutional practices and the extraordinarily cruel and unusual treatment commonplace in the prison. In 1972 and 1973 prison officials, determined to put an end to outside scrutiny, charged Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox, and Robert King with murders they did not commit and threw them into 6x9 foot cells in solitary confinement, for nearly 37 years. Robert was freed in 2001, but Herman and Albert remain behind bars.
In July 2008 a Federal Judge overturned Albert Woodfox's conviction after a State Judicial Magistrate found his trial was unfair due to inadequate representation, prosecutorial misconduct, suppression of exculpatory evidence, and racial discrimination in the grand jury selection process. Sadly, despite this powerful recommendation, Louisiana prosecutors maintain that Albert should remain in Angola for the rest of his life.
Similarly, in November 2006, a State Judicial Commissioner took the rare step of issuing a 27-page report recommending the reversal of Herman Wallace's convictioncurt, two-sentence ruling rejecting the Commissioner's recommendation. In May 2008 the appellate court continued to ignore justice by refusing to hear the case in a 2-1 decision without any explanation. The one judge who dissented found the verdict should be overturned because Herman's constitutional rights were violated, but unsurprisingly the notoriously conservative Louisiana Supreme Court disagreed. The case is currently taking new life as a habeas petition in Federal Court in the same judicial process that led to Albert's conviction being overturned. because of new, compelling evidence exposing prosecutorial misconduct. After stalling for nearly a year, the local District Court issued a
Despite a number of reforms achieved in the mid 70s in response to condemnations of the State of Louisiana's criminal justice system from all three branches of state government, many court officials have repeatedly refused to take a serious look at these cases, stubbornly sided with local prosecutors despite evidence of misconduct, and ignored constitutional safeguards requiring prison officials to hold meaningful, mandatory 90-day reviews to justify keeping inmates in solitary confinement for any extended period of time. In coming months a federal civil rights lawsuit goes to trial, detailing the decades of unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment endured by these innocent men.
 "Angola Prisoners Boycott Mess Hall," Baton Rouge Sunday Advocate, August 8, 1971. "Angola Inmate Protest Ended," Baton Rouge State-Times, August 13, 1971.
 Magistrate Judge Docia L. Dalby, in a decision rebuffing the State's attempt to dismiss the civil case, describes the decades of solitary confinement of the Angola 3 as "durations so far beyond the pale that this court has not found anything even remotely comparable in the annals of American jurisprudence."