Join us on Wednesday, November 13 for an evening of conversation with Albert Woodfox, the author of Solitary, a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award, and George Kendall, director of Squire Sanders’ Public Service Initiative and Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School.
About the Book
FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN NONFICTION
Solitary is the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement--in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell, 23 hours a day, in notorious Angola prison in Louisiana--all for a crime he did not commit. That Albert Woodfox survived was, in itself, a feat of extraordinary endurance against the violence and deprivation he faced daily. That he was able to emerge whole from his odyssey within America's prison and judicial systems is a triumph of the human spirit, and makes his book a clarion call to reform the inhumanity of solitary confinement in the U.S. and around the world.
Arrested often as a teenager in New Orleans, inspired behind bars in his early twenties to join the Black Panther Party because of its social commitment and code of living, Albert was serving a 50-year sentence in Angola for armed robbery when on April 17, 1972, a white guard was killed. Albert and another member of the Panthers were accused of the crime and immediately put in solitary confinement by the warden. Without a shred of actual evidence against them, their trial was a sham of justice that gave them life sentences in solitary. Decades passed before Albert gained a lawyer of consequence; even so, sixteen more years and multiple appeals were needed before he was finally released in February 2016.
Remarkably self-aware that anger or bitterness would have destroyed him in solitary confinement, sustained by the shared solidarity of two fellow Panthers, Albert turned his anger into activism and resistance. The Angola 3, as they became known, resolved never to be broken by the grinding inhumanity and corruption that effectively held them for decades as political prisoners. He survived to give us Solitary, a chronicle of rare power and humanity that proves the better spirits of our nature can thrive against any odds.
About the Participants
Albert Woodfox was born in 1947 in New Orleans. A committed activist in prison, he remains so today, speaking to a wide array of audiences, including the Innocence Project, Harvard, Yale, and other universities, the National Lawyers Guild, as well as at Amnesty International events in London, Paris, Denmark, Sweden, and Belgium. He lives in New Orleans.
George Kendall is the director of Squire Sanders’ Public Service Initiative, (PSI), a pro bono working group that focuses most of its time on pro bono litigation and policy initiatives. He and his team of three other attorneys and a paralegal are currently handling more than a dozen capital, innocence, and prison condition matters. They also regularly assist colleagues with cases before the Supreme Court and appellate courts. He has represented capital clients since 1979, first while in private practice in Washington, D.C., and then for five years as a staff attorney for the ACLU’s 11th Circuit death penalty project. He also worked for 15 years as an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, as well as private practice.
His professional successes include successfully representing indigent death row inmates Delma Banks and Paul House before the United States Supreme Court, Banks v. Dretke, 540 U.S. 668 (2004); House v. Bell, 547 U.S. 518 (2006), and working to free Joseph Dick, a former Navy sailor who was wrongly convicted of rape and murder in Virginia. Dick was freed by commutation in 2009, and the case, known as the Norfolk Four, has been the subject of a book, The Wrong Guys, and a Frontline documentary, The Confessions.
He has previously taught courses on the administration of capital punishment at Yale Law School, Florida State Law School, and St. John’s School of Law.
He is the recipient of numerous professional awards, including the Champion of Justice Award from the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, Life in the Balance Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association, and recent ones from the Equal Justice Initiative and the Constitution Project.
This event is free and open to the public. To RSVP, please click here.
Get Your Copy
Books will be available to purchase at the event, but if you would like to reserve a copy ahead of time, you may do so below.