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CI: A Message from Herman Wallace (and Us)

September 18, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisoner Rights

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

A Message from Herman Wallace (and Us)
reprinted with permission from Angola 3 News with commentary by nancy a heitzeg

Over the years, CI  has had the privilege of publishing a variety of pieces from Angola 3 News, including many updates on the status of the Angola 3 – Herman Wallace, Robert King, and Albert Woodfox – and their decades of solitary confinement at LSP Angola.. Today, with great sadness, we  bring you this message from Herman Wallace and add our own requests.

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CI: “A Life Lived Deliberately”

December 26, 2012 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Education, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisoner Rights, White Privilege

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

“A Life Lived Deliberately”
by Mumia Abu-Jamal,
Graduation Speech at Evergreen State College, June 11, 1999

Reprinted in The New Abolitionists: (Neo)Slave Narratives and Contemporary Prison Writings, Joy James, editor, and The Radical Philosophy Review

Editors Note: As I reflected back on 2012, The Year of the Vote, a year book-ended by the murder of Trayvon Martin and the massacre at Sandy Hook, I was struck by both the victories and the on-going struggles.

But mostly, I was grateful. For this space, for those who frequent it, for a multitude of organizations who persist in  seeking transformative solutions to the monstrosities of criminal injustice, those who resist the lure of the quick-fix “confidence men” and remain committed, in the face of tremendous odds, to liberation, to Abolition.

Thank you especially to Seeta Persaud, Kay Whitlock, Angola 3 News, Project NIA and Prison Culture, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity, Victoria Law, Critical Resistance , The Real Cost of Prisons Project, Solitary Watch and Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana. Many more…

You all could be anywhere, doing anything but you have made a Deliberate Choice.

So too, have you readers. The subject matter of this series is difficult, rarely uplifting, but I am so grateful you choose to read, to engage, here and elsewhere, to pass the information and action calls on.

In that spirit, I offer tonight the speech Mumia Abu Jamal delivered to the graduating class of Evergreen College in June of 1999, the first graduation speech delivered by a death row inmate. (Mumia has since had his death sentence lifted and is serving life without parole. He has not been freed or silenced.) Students made the choice to invite him and they fought long and hard to have that finally honored. They lived the speech before he gave it – as it should be.

Whatever you think of Mumia’s case, or MOVE or militancy or the rest, the spirit of these words is right. So many stumble through life, deciding not to decide. Just surviving through either poverty or privilege – on the Mean Streets or Wall Streets, in the suites or in the ivory towers of academia. Some think it is easier to turn away — to avoid the pain or the obligation that always comes with knowledge and especially comes with privilege – but Not You.

You Live Life Deliberately and I Love You for It.

Thank You ~ Honored to be with you in the Struggle.

Here’s to 2013.

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CI: The Torture of Mumia Abu-Jamal Continues off Death Row

January 25, 2012 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Corrupt Judiciary, Criminal Defense, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisoner Rights, White Privilege

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm CST.

The Torture of Mumia Abu-Jamal Continues off Death Row –Supporters Demand Transfer to General Population

 

An interview with Bret Grote of Human Rights Coalition

By Hans Bennett of Prison Radio

 

On December 7, following the US Supreme Court’s refusal to consider the Philadelphia District Attorney’s final avenue of appeal, current DA Seth Williams announced that he would no longer be seeking a death sentence for the world-renowned death row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal–on death row following his conviction at a 1982 trial deemed unfair by Amnesty International, the European Parliament, the Japanese Diet, Nelson Mandela, and many others. Abu-Jamal’s sentence of execution was first “overturned” by a federal court in December, 2001, and during the next ten years, he was never transferred from death row at the level five supermax prison, SCI Greene, in rural western Pennsylvania.

 

Shortly after the DA’s announcement in early December, Mumia Abu-Jamal, now 57 years old, was transferred to SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, PA, 100 miles from Philadelphia. Once there, it was expected that he would be released from solitary confinement and transferred into general population where he would finally have contact visits and generally less onerous conditions. However, he was immediately placed in “Administrative Custody,” in SCI Mahanoy’s “Restrictive Housing Unit” where his conditions of isolation and repression are now in many ways more extreme than they were on death row.

 

Presently at SCI Mahanoy, Mumia Abu-Jamal is shackled around his ankles and wrists whenever he is outside his cell, even to the shower and during already restricted visits–where he is already behind Plexiglas; Before going to the yard he is subject to strip searches before and after the visit; He is only allowed bits of paper to write notes on, with a rubber flex pen, and four books (no shelves); No access to news reports; Letters delayed; Glaring lights on 24 hours a day; Only one brief phone call to his wife and one to an attorney; No access to adequate food or commissary, and more.

 

(Artwork: Ascncios Mac)

In the first week of January, at Abu-Jamal’s request, supporters began a campaign directed at the PA Secretary of Corrections, SCI Mahanoy, and DA Seth Williams, demanding that Abu-Jamal be immediately transferred to the general population. The National Lawyers Guild (for whom Abu-Jamal serves as the Vice President) has released a statement and created an online petition demanding his transfer to general population.

 

Furthermore, Abu-Jamal has asked for supporters to not just call for his release from the hole, but to challenge the very practice of solitary confinement and what are called in Pennsylvania “Restricted Housing Units.” Supporting Abu-Jamal’s call to action, the Pennsylvania-based prison-activist organization called Human Rights Coalition explains that "Mumia may be in solitary, but he is not alone. The PA Department of Corrections holds approximately 2,500 people in solitary confinement on any given day, many of them for years at a time."

 

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New Sentencing for Mumia Abu-Jamal?

October 16, 2011 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Corrupt Judiciary, Criminal Defense, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisoner Rights, White Privilege

From The Root:

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from the Philadelphia district attorney’s office in the racially charged case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, bringing an end to nearly 30 years of litigation over the fairness of the sentencing hearing that resulted in his death sentence for the 1981 shooting of a police officer, the Washington Post reports.

While his case has been famous among anti-death penalty activists and social-justice advocates for decades, this new development is no doubt even more poignant for many in light of the recent execution of Troy Davis.

Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, has spent almost 30 years on death row after being convincted in 1982 for killing Daniel Faulkner.

A federal appeals court this year upheld his conviction but agreed that the jury received potentially misleading death penalty instructions, and ordered a new sentencing hearing. Because the Supreme Court has left in place that ruling, Abu-Jamal will now be automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole unless the district attorney seeks another death sentence from a new jury.

Full piece here.