In the Land of the Free: A Film by Vadim Jean
Director Vadim Jean joins us to discuss his recent documentary film In the Land of the Free. As many listeners may know, the Angola 3 are Robert King, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace. All three were incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in the late 1960s. While in prison, and in contact with Black Panthers, the men helped build a prison chapter of the Black Panthers. They organized inmates to end systematic rape and violence and worked as jailhouse lawyers. The men have spent a combined century in solitary confinement in the Angola prison. Vadim’s powerful documentary explores the issues of accountability and examines the biases against the sentencing of African Americans compared to whites and Latinos. The film is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, and it’s noted toward the end of the film that there is a pending civil suit, Wilkerson, Wallace and Woodfox vs. the State of Louisiana, ruled by the US Supreme Court and to go to trial based on arguments that their 30+ years in solitary confinement is “inhumane and unconstitutional.” This case could stop long-term solitary confinement in US prisons.
- I was friends with Anita Roddick; she knew Robert King, and when she passed away in 2007, Robert King was one of the speakers at her memorial. They wouldn’t let me film in the prison.
- The Angola 3 came together in the New Orleans parish prison in the 1970s.
- The criminals were put in with the Black Panthers and the Black Panthers educated the criminals.
- In the 1970s Angola was the bloodiest prison in America.
- Robert King was told why he was kept in solitary confinement after 25 years in CCR (solitary confinement)
- It was because he was being investigated for the murder of Brent Miller, which happened when he wasn’t even in the prison. They’re incredible human beings. They’re strong men. They’re self educated, in prison.
- I think they have their side, the fact that they know they’re innocent, and that makes you strong, that’s made them incredibly strong. They refused to be beaten.
- Robert is free. His conviction was overturned in 2001. People have reacted strongly to the film.
- I’ve tended to make drama-comedies. I made a completely mad film called Jiminy Glick in La La Wood with Martin Short.
- I made this film for Anita Roddick. Roddick Foundation website.
Guest – Vadim Jean began his career directing commercials for products such as Blockbuster Video, Woolworth’s, The Observer and Mercury 121 mobile phones. He then moved on to music videos for Elton John and Oasis before co-directing his first feature film, Leon the Pig Farmer (1992). For his work he won an Evening Standard British Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer and a Chaplin Award for Best First Feature at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Law and Disorder Barack Obama Series – CCR Staff Attorney Shane Kadidal
We’re joined by Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) staff attorney Shane Kadidal to give us an overview on several critical topics we’ve been following over the years here on Law and Disorder. We look at what is happening in Guantanamo right now, the Obama policy of preventive detentions and the state of habeas corpus in the United States. In January of 2009 Barack Obama issued orders to close Guantanamo Bay prison. There was talk of transferring prisoners to a Supermax prison in the United States. Military tribunals move forward for Guantanamo prisoners.
- What we won is the right to get into court and challenge the legality of your detention. CCR won that in 2008.
- Obama gets into office and says he’s going to close Guantanamo Bay Prison in a year.
- Obama to set up expert agency to decide what to do with people in Guantanamo prison.
- About 50 cases have gone forward and we (CCR) won 72 percent of the cases.
- About 180 left in Guantanamo. Obama has improved physical conditions for detainees in Guantanamo, but they’re still stuck there. Nothing much has changed, we see stasis, there isn’t much political movement.
- About a month into the administration, the Obama Department of Justice says our position is the same as the Bush administrations on Bagram AFB prison.
- We’re taking the same legal position about executive power as the previous administration – state’s secrets about rendition
- Six hundred people in Bagram right now. Bagram is an active war zone, can’t have courts interferring
- About 30 of the remaining 180 in Guantanamo will be charged. Most of the people brought there were innocent. The victim of profiling policies.
- General Stone says 400 of the 600 hundred in Bagram Prison have done nothing and should be released immediately. Task Force report on Guantanamo prisoners: 10 percent leaders of Al-Qaeda, 20 percent had a logistics role, others are low level soldiers. This is false.
- There are innocent people in Guantanamo, who have been there for 8 years.
- We still have a military commissions, an indefinite detention system. Lieberman proposing to strip citizenship from terrorism suspects so they can be interrogated without Miranda warnings.
- Moving Guantanamo prison to Thomson Prison in Illinois?
- Obama as committed to removing checks on executive power
Guest – Shane Kadidal, senior managing attorney of the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York City. He is a graduate of the Yale Law School and a former law clerk to Judge Kermit Lipez of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.