[Congressional Record Volume 159, Number 136 (Friday, October 4, 2013)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1439]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                         HON. JOHN CONYERS, JR.

                              of michigan

                    in the house of representatives

                        Friday, October 4, 2013

  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, we rise to commemorate and celebrate the 
life and contributions of Herman Wallace, one of the bravest champions 
for justice and human rights whom we have ever met. Nicknamed, ``The 
Muhammad Ali of Justice'', Mr. Wallace was a member of Louisiana's 
``Angola 3'' who spent 41 years in solitary confinement. Mr. Richmond 
and I had the opportunity to visit Mr. Wallace at the Louisiana State 
Penitentiary in Angola, justifiably called ``the Alcatraz of the 
South'' several years ago. I was impressed by his courage, 
determination, and dignity. We received word that Mr. Wallace passed 
away earlier this morning, only three days after he was freed pursuant 
to a federal judge's ruling that he had not received a fair trial in 
  Mr. Wallace began his struggle for justice back in the 1970s, when 
he, along with Robert King and Albert Woodfox, organized a prison 
chapter of the Black Panther Party at the Angola prison. He worked to 
desegregate the prison, to end systematic rape and violence, and for 
better living conditions for the inmates.
  Mr. Wallace, Albert Woodfox, and Robert King spent decades in 
solitary confinement--confined in cells no bigger than a parking space 
for 23 hours a day--for murders they say they did not commit. No 
physical evidence links them to these crimes. Potentially exculpatory 
DNA evidence has been lost, and the testimony of the main eyewitness 
has been discredited.
  Mr. Wallace showed relentless courage and perseverance in fighting 
the injustice and inhumane treatment that he and his fellow Angola 3 
inmates were subjected to. Even from the confines of solitary 
confinement, he filed lawsuit after lawsuit in an effort to bring 
attention to the difficult conditions under which he and the others 
were being held.
  The courts finally heard him this week, and some measure of justice 
was granted with his release. Mr. Wallace's conviction has now been 
overturned. Mr. King's conviction has been overturned. State and 
federal judges have overturned Mr. Woodfox's conviction three times, 
yet Mr. Woodfox remains in prison--in solitary confinement--because of 
the State's appeals.
  On behalf of all who believe in fundamental fairness and justice, we 
commend Mr. Wallace's courage and determination to keep fighting 
through 41 long years of solitary confinement. He is an inspiration to 
all of us.
  Mr. Wallace had recently been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. 
With his release from prison, it was hoped that he would be able to 
receive the medical care that his advanced liver cancer required. Prior 
to his passing, Mr. Wallace's legal team said, however, that his 
greatest hope was that his case would help ensure that others, 
especially his fellow Angola 3 member Albert Woodfox, would not 
continue to suffer the cruel and unusual confinement that he had 
suffered. Because of Mr. Wallace's work, those of us in Congress who 
have called for his freedom will dedicate our future efforts to 
ensuring that no one anywhere in the United States is subjected to the 
unjust and inhumane treatment that he has endured.
  Mr. Speaker, it was with great sadness that we learned of Mr. 
Wallace's passing earlier this morning, nine days shy of his 72nd 
birthday. Mr. Wallace's personal fight against injustice and the 
inhuman plight that is long term solitary confinement has ended for 
him. The larger fight against that injustice must go on, however, and 
his legacy will endure through a civil lawsuit that he filed jointly 
with his fellow Angola 3 members, Albert Woodfox and Robert King. That 
lawsuit seeks to define and abolish long term solitary confinement as 
cruel and unusual punishment.
  Mr. Speaker, we ask my colleagues to join me in honoring Mr. Wallace 
for his many-decades-long fight for the humane treatment of prisoners. 
We, and all of us, owe Mr. Wallace a debt of gratitude.