and the prison systems that house them largely provide inadequate care. Managing ailments such as arthritis, hypertension, and kidney failure, as well as memory impairment, insomnia, claustrophobia, anxiety, and depression could worsen due to neglect (as was the case with Wallace). As the list of ailing prisoners grows longer, it is certain that the cries for their commutation grow louder.
Yet despite his failing health, Wallace’s lawyer doubts he will leave the Farm alive: “I don’t think so, and part of the reason is the state of Louisiana in the past six years has spent $6 million dollars in lawyer fees to keep a 71-year-old man in solitary confinement,” Trenticosta told Harris-Perry. With Louisiana state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell actively obstructing his release, it seems pro-prison Governor Bobby Jindal will prove to be as obstinate. From January 2008 to May 2012, Jindal has only signed 36 of 450 pardon recommendations brought before him. Furthermore, after Black Panther and former political prisoner Assata Shakur was named to the FBI’s most wanted terrorists list just months ago, it seems unlikely that President Obama would usurp state power to issue Herman Wallace a pardon.
While Nelson Mandela will be buried a national hero, Herman Wallace will likely die a statistic if the state of Louisiana ignores his plea. Seventy-eight percent of Louisiana State Penitentiary inmates are African-American, and 88% of the population will die while incarcerated there.
Two political prisoners, two continents and two governments: one will die having triumphed over racial injustice and one will die a victim of it.
Jamila Aisha Brown is a freelance writer, political commentator, and social entrepreneur. Her consultancy, HUE, provides sustainable development solutions to social justice problems impacting the African diaspora. Contact her via Twitter: @MsJamilaAisha and at www.hueglobal.com.