How Albert Woodfox Survived Solitary
The New Yorker
January 11, 2017

“In 1962, when Woodfox was fifteen, he was arrested for a car-parking scheme: he and his friends charged drivers to protect their cars. Two years later, he went to jail for riding in a stolen car. That year, he got his girlfriend pregnant. He paid little attention to his newborn daughter, Brenda. He took pride in being a good crook. “They used to call me Fox,” he said. “You didn’t mess with Fox.”

“When Woodfox was eighteen, he was arrested for robbing a bar and sentenced to fifty years in prison. After the sentencing, he overpowered two sheriff’s deputies in the basement of the courthouse and fled to Manhattan. He had been in the city for only a few days—he had just met Panthers in Harlem, and was angling to date some of the female Party members, who seemed more self-possessed than any women he’d ever met—when a bookie accused him of trying to rob him. ‘I remember thinking, What’s wrong with you—you can’t stay out of jail,” he said. “I thought it was just me, that something was wrong with me.’”

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