Albert Woodfox, the longest-serving prisoner to be held in solitary confinement in the United States, was released Friday after 43 years. Woodfox, who was in a Louisiana prison since April 1972 for the murder of a prison guard, was reportedly the last incarcerated member of the group known as the "Angola Three."
Woodfox maintained his innocence in the death of Brent Miller, and was finally released after pleading no contest to lesser charges in exchange for freedom. The plea bargain was reportedly negotiated with state prosecutors.
"Although I was looking forward to proving my innocence at a new trial, concerns about my health and my age have caused me to resolve this case now and obtain my release with this no contest plea to lesser charges," Woodfox said in a statement Friday, according to BBC. "I hope the events of today will bring closure to many."
Woodfox, who was in Louisiana's notorious Angola prison for armed robbery and assault at the time of Miller’s death, was convicted in 1973 along with Herman Wallace for the prison guard’s death. A third inmate, Robert King, was also linked to Miller's death, but was never charged.
The three men were reportedly known as the “Angola Three” in reference to a nearby former slave plantation called Angola. Wallace, who spent almost 30 years in solitary confinement, was released in 2013 just two days before his death, while King was released in 2001 after his conviction related to a separate case was overturned.
“I can now direct all my efforts to ending the barbarous use of solitary confinement and will continue my work on that issue here in the free world,” Woodfox said in a statement released to his lawyers, according to the Guardian.