By
Melissa Harris Perry
updated 7/6/2013 3:47:06 PM ET 2013-07-06T19:47:06

"The state of Louisiana in the past 6 years has spent $6 million in lawyer fees to keep a 71-year-old man in solitary confinement," Herman Wallace attorney Nick Trenticosta said.

Herman Wallace, one of the remaining two imprisoned members of the Angola 3, has been diagnosed with liver cancer. Wallace’s attorney believes it is time for him to be let out of solitary confinement and more importantly receive a compassionate release.

Attorney Nick Trenticosta detailed his client’s condition on Saturday’s Melissa Harris-Perry. “He’s lost about 55 pounds in four months, and he is being treated completely negligently. I would say he’s being killed through intentional neglect.”

Currently 71 years old, Wallace has been in solitary confinement for more than 41 years for his 1972 conviction in the murder of prison guard Brent Miller. It is a conviction that he and the other members of the Angola 3 have fought because they have maintained their innocence in the brutal stabbing.

Given his critical diagnosis, his lawyers and organizations like Amnesty International are pushing for a compassionate release.

Asked whether he thought there was any chance that Wallace would receive a compassionate release, Trenticosta’s response was telling. “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.”

Video: The prisoner who’s been in solitary confinement for 41 years

  1. Closed captioning of: The prisoner who’s been in solitary confinement for 41 years

    >>> 41 years and counting, that's how long herman wallace , one of the two remaining imprisoned members of the angola three has spent in solitary confinement for the 1972 murder conviction of prison guard , brent miller , despite maintaining his innocence. at 71, wallace has been diagnosed with liver cancer and is gravely ill, yet he is still on lockdown. joining me is nick tranacosta, one of knicks wallace 's attorneys. thank you for joining me. first of all, tell me about mr. wallace 's condition?

    >> he's gravely ill, for sure. he's lost about 55 pounds in four months and he is being treated completely negligently. i would say he's being killed through intelligenceal neglect.

    >> and is he still in solitary confineme confinement?

    >> presently, he's in a hospital.

    >> okay. i got a letter from mr. wallace right after i wrote my letter to attorney general buddy caldwell , asking him to reconsider the situation of solitary confinement for the angola three, a lovely note from mr. wallace . remind our viewers who know a little bit about it, what the kind of controversy around the angola three is.

    >> well, in 1972 , angola penitentiary was nothing but a cauldron of violence and brutality. and herbert wallace , albert wood fox , and abert king arrived there as black panther members. their mission was to stop the brutality. because of that, they were challenging a plantation, they were challenging the status quo at a plantation where brutality worked to the advantage of the overseers.

    >> of the prison guards .

    >> a young white guard was killed. they immediately said, let's go round up the panthers. they must have done it. the trials were nothing but kangaroo courts. prosecutor misconduct, discrimination on juries, grand juries , the list goes on and on.

    >> so here we are now, 41 years later, herman wallace is terminally ill , and asking for compassionate release. he is at all points, always maintained that he is innocent. is there any likelihood that mr. wallace will get compassionate release, as an elderly gentleman, who is going to die?

    >> i don't think so. and part of the reason is, the state of louisiana in the past six years has spent $6 million in lawyer fees to keep a 71-year-old man in solitary confinement . and to fight his habeas corpus case. that's our taxpayers' money. $6 million, buddy caldwell decides should be spent here.

    >> is this indicative to have what our criminal justice system is, or is this an outlier?

    >> well, the criminal justice system frustrates justice, especially post-trial. prosecutors do not want to admit mistakes. judges do not want to admit mistakes. if the main event happened, you were found guilty, case closed. and we know now, through dna exonerations, that there are many innocent people in prison. but for the fact that dna has allowed them to prove their innocence, they would still be locked up.

    >> well, we in nerdland will keep mr. wallace in our thoughts and prayers. and thank you for your continuing work and the continuing work of amnesty international to keep him in the spotlight.

    >> thank you very much.

    >>> coming up, a reality check on reality television . and how it portrays african-american women. we're at the essence festival and you know we're going to talk about that. that's next.

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