When Death Comes as a Kindness

By BitcoDavid

New York Times
New York Times

Herman Wallace is best known as one of the Angola 3. Sites like Prisonmovement’s Weblog and Moorbey’z Blog have spent years trying to get him released from solitary confinement in Louisiana. Early on Friday, October 4th, Herman Wallace passed away, after a long battle with cancer. He was 71 years old.

Wallace was a writer, an artist and the figurehead of a cause. He spent 41 years in Angola’s solitary confinement.

Since January of 1974, Wallace has not seen the sun, experienced the joy of conversation or felt the heat of a woman. He lived what is for many of us, a lifetime, in a 6′ by 9′ concrete cell.

Mr. Wallace had originally been convicted on an armed robbery charge, and was housed in general population. During a prison riot, a corrections officer – Brent Miller – was stabbed and killed. Wallace and Albert Woodfox were convicted of the stabbing, and sentenced to life in solitary. There, they were confined with another inmate, Robert King. These three men became the subject of an Amnesty International report in 2011. Documentarist Vadim Jean directed the film In the Land of the Free, about the plight of the Angola 3. To the very end, Wallace swore his innocence, and both his family and his lawyer believed that the 3 were wrongfully convicted.

Most recent photo of Felix with Pat Bliss.  Image credit Pat Bliss
Most recent photo of Felix with Pat Bliss.
Image credit Pat Bliss

Wallace was released 3 days before his death, in what can only be described as a real life Dostoevsky novel. No justice, no closure – merely a glimmer of hope before the bitter end.

Wallace was born on Oct. 13, 1941. He leaves behind, five sisters.

Time marches on, and there is an urgency in peoples’ lives. If we don’t help people like Wallace now, when they need our help, it may be too late when we finally get around to doing the right thing by them. I bring this up because of Felix Garcia. The man I see in this picture has aged markedly. Felix has spent over 30 years, wrongfully incarcerated. If we don’t help him now, it may soon be too late.

After 41 years in the deepest recesses of Angola’s hellish solitary confinement, and the long-term agony of the most horrible of diseases, Mr. Wallace must have been glad to go. Surely for him, death came as a kindness.

My gratitude to the New York Times for help with this article.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

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