Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jericho 4th Annual Day in Solidarity with Palestinian Political Prisoners

Links between the Struggle for Black Liberation in the U.S. and the Struggle for Palestine

Lamis Deek of Al-Awda
Al-Awda Youth
Palestinian Dance Troupe

Keynote Speaker:
Robert Hillary King of the Angola 3

Robert Hillary King spent 32 years at Angola Prison, 29 of them in solitary confinement

Sunday, April 19, 2009 - 3 to 7 p.m.
Solidarity Center
55 W. 17th Street, 5th Floor

$5 Donation (nobody turned away)
Light Refreshments Provided

Special thanks to the IAC for opening their doors to us on a Sunday!

NYC Jericho Movement, NYC ABCF, NYC Free Mumia Coalition

For more information: nycjericho@gmail.com • www.jerichony.org • 718-853-0893

CNN Article on Mumia

Ex-Panther says racism put him on death row

By Bill Mears
CNN Supreme Court Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Mumia Abu-Jamal sits on Pennsylvania's death row, perhaps the most recognized of the 228 condemned inmates at the Greene Correctional Facility, an hour south of Pittsburgh.

Abu-Jamal, inmate AM8335, awaits three milestones. His new book, "Jailhouse Lawyers," will be released next month. He's also awaiting a pair of Supreme Court decisions, which could come in the next two weeks.

The former Black Panther was sentenced to die for gunning down a Philadelphia police officer 28 years ago. The high court will decide whether he deserves a new hearing to determine whether his execution should go forward.

The state is appealing a federal appeals court ruling on the sentencing question that went in Abu-Jamal's favor last year. The case has attracted international attention.

Abu-Jamal's lawyers filed a separate appeal claiming that racism led to his 1982 conviction. That petition is scheduled for consideration by the Supreme Court on April 3. If either case is accepted by the justices for review, oral arguments would be held in the fall.

The former radio reporter and cab driver has been a divisive figure, with many prominent supporters arguing that racism pervaded his trial.

Others counter that Abu-Jamal is using his skin color to escape responsibility for his actions. They say he has divided the community for years with his provocative writing and activism.

He was convicted for the December 9, 1981, murder of officer Daniel Faulkner, 25, in Philadelphia.

Faulkner had pulled over Abu-Jamal's brother in a late-night traffic stop. Witnesses said Abu-Jamal, who was nearby, ran over and shot the police officer in the back and in the head.

Abu-Jamal, once known as Wesley Cook, was also wounded in the confrontation and later admitted to the killing, according to other witnesses' testimony.

Abu-Jamal is black, and the police officer was white.

Incarcerated for nearly three decades, Abu-Jamal has been an active critic of the criminal justice system.

On a Web site created by friends to promote his release, the prisoner-turned-author writes about his fight. "This is the story of law learned, not in the ivory towers of multi-billion dollar endowed universities but in the bowels of the slave-ship, in the hidden, dank dungeons of America."

His chief defense attorney, Robert Bryan, has filed appeals asking for a new criminal trial.

"The central issue in this case is racism in jury selection," he wrote to supporters last month.

"We are in an epic struggle in which his life hangs in the balance. What occurs now in the Supreme Court will determine whether Mumia will have a new jury trial or die at the hands of the executioner," Bryan said. Ten whites and two blacks made up the original jury panel that sentenced him to death.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals kept the murder conviction in place a year ago but ordered a new capital sentencing hearing.

"The jury instructions and the verdict form created a reasonable likelihood that the jury believed it was precluded from finding a mitigating circumstance that had not been unanimously agreed upon," Chief Judge Anthony J. Scirica wrote in the 77-page opinion.

The federal appeals court ultimately concluded that the jury was improperly instructed on how to weigh "mitigating factors" offered by the defense that might have kept Abu-Jamal off death row. Pennsylvania law at the time said jurors did not have to unanimously agree on a mitigating circumstance, such as the fact that Abu-Jamal had no prior criminal record.

Months before that ruling, oral arguments on the issue were contentious. Faulkner's widow and Abu-Jamal's brother attended, and demonstrations on both sides were held outside the courtroom in downtown Philadelphia.

If the Supreme Court refuses now to intervene on the sentencing issue, the city's prosecutor would have to decide within six months whether to conduct a new death penalty sentencing hearing or allow Abu-Jamal to spend the rest of his life in state prison.

Many prominent groups and individuals, including singer Harry Belafonte, the NAACP and the European Parliament, are cited on his Web site as supporters.

Prosecutors have insisted that Abu-Jamal pay the price for his crimes and have aggressively resisted efforts to take him off death row for Faulkner's murder.

"This assassination has been made a circus by those people in the world and this city who believe falsely that Mumia Abu-Jamal is some kind of a folk hero," Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham said last year, when the federal appeals court upheld the conviction. "He is nothing short of an assassin."

The city has honored the fallen police officer with a street designation and a commemorative plaque placed at the spot where he was shot and killed.

The officer's widow, Maureen Faulkner, wrote a book two years ago about her husband and the case: "Murdered by Mumia: A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain and Injustice." She writes that she was trying to "definitively lay out the case against Mumia Abu-Jamal and those who've elevated him to the status of political prisoner."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New Petition for Mumia

Dear co-strugglers for Mumia,

Please find attached the call for action - to sign an online-petition to the justices of the US Supreme Court.

We launched it two weeks ago in Germany and Austria - and it is mushrooming now.


It could be a wonderful tool to gain more awareness and public support in this critical state of Mumia's life.

Please spread it as far as you can! Post it, send it around, use all your powerful means of creating news and attention.

Please feel free to change the pre-text in all ways you see fit - and sign it with your own name or organisation!

German Network Against the Death Penalty and to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

The Latest Twist in the Mumia Case 


March 20-22, 2009

Supreme Test
By Linn Washington, Jr.

During a jailhouse interview in 1978 a Philadelphia radical awaiting trial for a policeman’s death advanced a salient observation about a fundamental flaw in America’s legal system.

The “System just make and break laws as it see fit!” noted this radical who for years had battled Philadelphia authorities arbitrarily bending and breaking laws to brutally assault his organization.

This observation by a member of Philadelphia’s MOVE organization would prove both prophetic and profound for the journalist conducting that jailhouse interview – Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Four years after that 1978 interview, Abu-Jamal stood trial for murdering a Philadelphia policeman. That trial produced a conviction so mired in controversy that today millions around the globe support Abu-Jamal as the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

Abu-Jamal cites that radical’s observation in his new book “ Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners vs. the U.S.A.” (City Lights Books 2009).

This is the sixth book written by Abu-Jamal during his twenty-five-plus years on Pennsylvania’s death row. This book examines inmates who’ve learned law through self-study to challenge criminal convictions and conditions inside prisons.

Abu-Jamal, in Chapter 2 of his new book, provides his assessment of American law terming it an “instrument of the powerful, mortality be damned. For the weak, the powerless, the oppressed, the law is more often a hindrance than a help.”

That radical’s observation about arbitrary operation in the justice system accurately describes the Abu-Jamal case where courts – state and federal – have repeatedly altered and/or abrogated established law to block Abu-Jamal receiving relief granted to other inmates raising the same legal challenges.

The latest example of this alter-law-to-undermine-Abu-Jamal dynamic drives his appeal currently pending before the US Supreme Court. This appeal attacks the 2008 ruling by a federal 3rd Circuit Appeals Court panel that created a new legal standard for persons challenging racist jury selection practices by prosecutors.

That newly created legal standard advanced by two 3rd Circuit judges to reject voluminous evidence documenting racist jury selection practices by the prosecutor during Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial erects courtroom procedures far in excess of procedures required by existing US Supreme Court and 3rd Circuit rulings.

The third member of that three-judge 3rd Circuit panel issued a 41-page dissent that repeatedly upbraided his panel colleagues for radically changing the established jury discrimination standards applied by their Circuit and the US Supreme Court.

“Why we pick this case to depart from [3rd Circuit precedent] I do not know,” Judge Thomas Ambro noted in his 2008 dissent.

Incredibly, that panel’s ruling – later backed by the full 3rd Circuit – faults Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial attorney for not strictly following procedures the US Supreme Court didn’t adopt until 1986…four years after Abu-Jamal’s trial.

An internet based petition campaign requesting the US Supreme Court to overturn the 3rd Circuit ruling and grant Abu-Jamal a court hearing on the jury selection discrimination issue amassed over 1,200 signatures in just a few days.

This petition campaign initiated by a coalition of anti-death penalty groups in Germany has gained signatures from persons in Germany, Austria, Brazil and Turkey despite it not being formally launched internationally. So far, petition signers include noted German actors, actresses, activists, academics, civic leaders and one member of the German parliament.

The prosecutor during Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial used 10 of 15 preemptory challenges to purge potential black jurors – more than twice the exclusion rate expected with race-neutral procedures.

Abu-Jamal’s richly detailed appeal to the US Supreme Court, prepared by lead defense lawyer Robert R. Bryan, includes an examination of the “culture of discrimination” operative among Philadelphia prosecutors.

Bryan’s appeal highlights 11 separate rulings where federal and Pa state courts specifically faulted Philadelphia prosecutors for engaging in intentional discrimination during jury selection. Six of those 11 rulings cited in Bryan’s appeal came from the 3rd Circuit.

Further, Bryan’s appeal, referencing dozens of court rulings nationwide, cites a US Supreme Court ruling where one Justice utilized a scholarly statistical study documenting Philadelphia prosecutors purging potential black jurors at twice the rate of whites during death penalty trials between 1981 and 1997.

Interestingly, just days before that 2008 3rd Circuit ruling, the US Supreme Court granted a Louisiana death row inmate a new hearing after finding race tainted jury selection practices during his trial.

This Supreme Court ruling applied standards less stringent than those the 3rd Circuit created in the Abu-Jamal ruling.

The author of that Supreme Court ruling, Justice Samuel Alito, formerly served on the 3rd Circuit where he participated in rulings granting relief to inmates victimized by prosecutorial jury selection improprieties less onerous than those in the Abu-Jamal case.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s legal brief filed on behalf of Abu-Jamal’s US Supreme Court appeal criticizes the 3rd Circuit panel’s “departure from controlling precedent” – faulting that ruling for improperly increasing the evidentiary burden on defendants raising jury discrimination claims.

The NAACP Defense Fund’s brief warns that the 3rd Circuit’s ruling “threatens to dramatically reduce the pool of cases eligible for judicial review…” because it “directly contradicts” repeated US Supreme Court rulings.

Philadelphia prosecutors are asking the US Supreme Court to reinstate Abu-Jamal’s death sentence and reject his request for relief regarding jury selection discrimination.

That 2008 3rd Circuit ruling upheld a federal District Court judge’s elimination of Abu-Jamal’s death sentence after finding flaws in forms used by the jury that condemned him to death.

The push by Philadelphia prosecutors to execute Abu-Jamal comes at a time when states around the nation are backing away from the death penalty.

This week, New Mexico became the 15th state to repeal the death penalty. NM Governor Bill Richardson, when signing the repeal legislation, noted the exonerations of four death row inmates in that state.

Six of the 130 death row exonerations nationwide come from Pennsylvania.

The judge presiding at Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial, Albert Sabo, has the dubious judicial distinction of handling the largest number of death penalty convictions in America. Courts have overturned two-thirds of those capital convictions in Sabo’s court citing faults by prosecutors, defense attorneys and Sabo himself.

Philadelphia’s District Attorneys Office is currently resisting actions by Philadelphia’s Mayor to sharply reduce spending by all city government departments due to a billion dollar budget deficit.

Philadelphia prosecutors have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars battling Abu-Jamal’s appeals in state and federal court.

Critics of Philadelphia’s DAs Office constantly cite fiscally wasteful procedures like relentlessly resisting legal relief to inmates granted by courts upon findings of faults by police and prosecutors.

Philadelphia District Attorney “Lynne Abraham is costing the City a ‘ton’ fighting police corruption cases,” said Robert “Sugar Bear” Lark, an inmate still sitting on Pa’s death row because Philadelphia prosecutors are battling a 2007 federal court ruling overturning his conviction.

Linn Washington Jr. is an Associate Professor of Journalism at Temple University in Philadelphia and a weekly columnist for The Philadelphia Tribune – America’s oldest black owned newspaper.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

NAACP Legal Defense Fund Files Brief in Supreme Court in Mumia Abu-Jamal Case

March 5th, 2009

(New York, NY)- Today the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) filed a friend of the court brief in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal's claim of racial discrimination in the selection of the jury for his 1981 death penalty trial. LDF's brief supports Mr. Abu-Jamal's request for United States Supreme Court review of his appeal urging enforcement of the laws that require courts to promptly investigate evidence of discrimination against African American prospective jurors.

Specifically, LDF objects to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit's use of a restrictive interpretation of Batson v. Kentucky, a Supreme Court decision prohibiting prosecutors from excluding prospective jurors on the basis of race, to conclude that Mr. Abu-Jamal failed to present sufficient evidence to support his claim of racial discrimination in jury selection. LDF's brief explains that the Third Circuit's conclusion that the only way to prove that racial discrimination infected the jury selection process is to document the race of all members from the panel of prospective jurors and the race of all stricken jurors ignores other significant indicators of discrimination in jury selection and contradicts the Supreme Court's command that courts examine a wide array of evidence to properly ferret out discrimination in jury selection.

As applied to Mr. Abu-Jamal's case, the Third Circuit decision means that the trial prosecutor's pattern of strikes against African-American prospective jurors, a culture of discrimination in the prosecutor's office (including a videotaped training advocating the exclusion of prospective jurors of color), a comprehensive statistical study documenting a pattern of exclusion of prospective jurors of color by the prosecutor's office and other such evidence is insufficient to suggest discrimination. LDF's brief explains that turning a blind eye to such credible evidence of discrimination not only conflicts with the law but also undermines public confidence in integrity of the courts.

"We believe that the Third Circuit's interpretation of the law will have the effect of shielding discrimination and undermining the rights of criminal and capital defendants to a fair trial. It is our hope that the Supreme Court will accept and review Mr. Abu-Jamal's case to make sure that courts respond promptly and appropriately when confronted with real questions about the existence of racial discrimination in jury selection ," said John Payton, LDF President and Director-Counsel.

# # #


The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) is America's legal counsel on issues of race. Through advocacy and litigation, LDF focuses on issues of education, voter protection, economic justice and criminal justice. We encourage students to embark on careers in the public interest through scholarships and internship programs. LDF pursues racial justice to move our nation toward a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Introduction to Mumia Abu-Jamal's Jailhouse Lawyers

March 02, 2009 By Angela Davis

Jailhouse Lawyers:
Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. The USA by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Foreword by Angela Y. Davis

288 pages | $16.95

ISBN: 9780872864696

Published by City Lights Books | www.citylights.com

One of the most important public intellectuals of our time, Mumia Abu-Jamal has spent more than twenty-five years behind bars, the majority of that time on death row. He is supported by millions all over the planet, not only because of the egregious repression he has suffered at the hands of the state of Pennsylvania, but because he has used his abundant talents as a thinker and writer to expand our knowledge of the hidden world of jails, prisons, and death houses in which he has spent the last decades of his life. As a transformative thinker, he has always taken care to emphasize the connections between incarcerated lives and lives that unfold in the putative arenas of freedom.

As Mumia has repeatedly pointed out, those of us who live in the "free world" are not unaffected by the system of state violence that relies on imprisonment and capital punishment as pivotal strategies for ordering society. While those behind bars suffer the most direct effects of this system, its raced, gendered, and sexualized modes of violence bolster the institutions and ideologies that inform our lives on the outside. In all of his previous books, Mumia has urged us to reflect on this dialectic of freedom and unfreedom. He has asked us to think deeply about the racial and class disproportions in the application of capital punishment, rarely taking advantage of the opportunity to call upon people to save his own life, but rather using his writing to speak for the more than 3,000 people who inhabit the state and federal death rows. Over the years, I have been especially impressed by the way his ideas have helped to link critiques of the death penalty with broader challenges to the expanding prison-industrial-complex. He has been particularly helpful to those of us activists and scholars alike who seek to associate death penalty abolitionism with prison abolitionism.

In this book, Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A., Mumia Abu-Jamal introduces us to the valuable but exceedingly underappreciated contributions of prisoners who have learned how to use the law in defense of human rights. Jailhouse lawyers have challenged inhumane prison conditions, and even when they themselves have been unaware of this connection, they have implicitly followed the standards of such human rights instruments as the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (1955), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984). Mumia argues that the passage of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) is a violation of the Convention Against Torture, for in ruling out psychological or mental injury as a basis through which to recover damages, such sexual coercion as that represented in the Abu Ghraib photographs, if perpetrated inside a U.S. prison, would not have constituted evidence for a lawsuit. If jailhouse lawyers are concerned with broader human rights issues, they also defend their fellow prisoners who face the wrath of the federal and state governments and the administrative apparatus of the prison. Mumia Abu-Jamal's reach in this remarkable book is broadly historical and analytical on the one hand and intimate and specific on the other.

We are fortunate to be offered this history of jailhouse lawyers and this analysis of their legacies by one who can count himself among their ranks. Mumia's words in the opening section of the book about the general conditions that create trajectories leading prisoners to jailhouse law are compelling. He writes of a "deep, abiding disenchantment with lawyers that forces some people to become their own, and also to assist others. In every penitentiary, in every state of the U.S., there are men and women who have learned, through study and experience, and trial and error, the principles of the law." See note.

Many of the jailhouse lawyers evoked in the pages of this book including the author himself were well educated before they entered prison. Studying the law was more a question of focusing their intellectual skills on a different object than of familiarizing themselves and becoming comfortable with the discipline of learning. But there are also those jailhouse lawyers who literally had to teach themselves to read and write before they set about learning the law. Mumia points to what was for me a startling revelation: jailhouse lawyers comprise the group most likely to be punished by the prison administration more so than political prisoners, black people, gang members, and gay prisoners. Whereas jailhouse lawyers are now punished by what Mumia calls "cover charges," historically they could be charged with internal violations for no other reason than that they used the law to challenge prison guards, prison regimes, and prison conditions.

The passage of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) understood by many to have saved the court from frivolous lawsuits by prisoners was a pointed attack on the jailhouse lawyers Mumia sets out to defend in these pages. He successfully argues that many significant reforms in the prison system resulted directly from the intervention of jailhouse lawyers. Some readers may remember the scandals surrounding conditions in the Texas prison system. But they will not have known that the first decisive challenges to those conditions came from jailhouse lawyers. Mumia refers, for example, to David Ruiz, whose 1971 handwritten civil rights complaint against Texas prison conditions was initially thrown away by the prison administrator charged with having it notarized. As we learn, Ruiz rewrote the complaint and bypassed the prison administration by giving it to a lawyer, who handed it over to a federal judge. This case, Ruiz v. Estelle, was eventually merged with seven other cases originating with prisoners. They challenged double- and triple-celling and work regimes that incorporated the violence of plantation slavery.

Moreover, Texas, along with other southern prison systems, relied on what were known as "building tenders," i.e., armed prisoners acting as assistants to guards, for the governance of the institution. The largely white guards and building tenders poised against the majority Mexican- and African-American prisoners led to "abuse, corruption and officially sanctioned injustice." For those who assume that charitable legal organizations in the "free world" were always responsible for the prison lawsuits that led to significant change, Mumia reminds us that what is now known as "prison law" was pioneered by prisoners themselves. These lawyers behind bars practiced at the risk of punishment and even death. Ruiz himself was placed in the hole after filing this lawsuit against the warden. But, as Mumia points out, the state of Texas was eventually compelled to disestablish the building tender system and to curtail its overcrowding and the overt violence of its regimes. Such contemporary suits as the recent one brought in part by the Prison Law Office against the State of California, which focuses on overcrowded conditions and the lack of health care in California prisons, have been precisely enabled by the work of jailhouse lawyers those who risked violence and even death in order to make their voices heard.

In light of the major transformations that have historically resulted from the work of jailhouse lawyers, it is not surprising that Mumia argues strenuously against the Prison Litigation Reform Act, whose proponents largely relied on the notion that litigation by prisoners needed to be curtailed because of their proclivity to submit frivolous lawsuits. One of the cases most often evoked as justification for the passage of the PLRA was mischaracterized as claiming cruel and unusual punishment because the prisoners received creamy instead of chunky peanut butter. This was not the entire story, which Mumia offers us as a powerful refutation of the underlying logic of the PLRA. Popular representations of prisoners as intrinsically litigious were linked, he points out, to representations of poor people as more eager to receive welfare payments than they were to work. Thus he connects the 1996 passage of the PRLA under the Clinton administration to the disestablishment of the welfare system, locating both of these developments within the context of rising neoliberalism.

Mumia Abu-Jamal's Jailhouse Lawyers is a persuasive refutation of the ideological underpinnings of the Prison Litigation Reform Act. The way he situates the PLRA historically as an inheritance of the Black Codes, which were themselves descended from the slave codes allows us to recognize the extent to which historical memories of slavery and racism are inscribed in the very structures of the prison system and have helped to produce the prison-industrial-complex. If slavery denied African and African-descended people the right to full legal personality and the practices of racialized second-tier citizenship institutionalized the inheritance of slavery, so in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, prisoners find that the curtailment of their capacity to seek redress through the legal system preserves and reaffirms that inheritance.

Mumia's profiles include both men and women, both people of color and white people, with disparate motivations and often very different ways of identifying or not identifying themselves as jailhouse lawyers. Prisoners have challenged the law on its own terms in ways that recapitulate the grassroots organizing by ordinary people in the South that led eventually to the overturning of laws authorizing racial inferiority.

As Mumia points out, if there is increasing respect for the religious rights and practices of people behind bars, then it is largely due to the work of jailhouse lawyers. In the state of Pennsylvania, where Mumia himself is imprisoned, one extremely active jailhouse lawyer profiled in the book is Richard Mayberry, who initiated many important lawsuits, including the case known as I.C.U. (Imprisoned Citizens' Union) v. Shapp, which broadly addressed health, overcrowding, and other conditions of confinement in Pennsylvania prisons.

The I.C.U. case ended in a settlement, which required an agreement by all parties. Mayberry served as class representative and signed on behalf of thousands of state prisoners, and a court-agreed settlement went into force, creating new rules that covered the entire state system. The I.C.U. provisions became the foundation for every subsequent regulation that governed the entire state, and they lasted for decades, until the passage of the Prison Litigation Reform Act. (82)

Mumia not only offers accounts of cases and profiles of prison litigators who have had a lasting impact on the prison system in the United States, he also reveals the extent to which jailhouse lawyers provide legal assistance to their peers, both with respect to their cases and with respect to institution violations. In relation to the latter, outside lawyers are often actually prohibited from representing prisoners, whereas jailhouse lawyers are permitted to assist prisoners in their defense of institutional charges.

Whether the lawsuits generated by jailhouse lawyers are expansive in their reach, potentially affecting the lives of large numbers of prisoners, or whether they are specifically focused on the case of a single individual, they have indeed made an enormous difference. Mumia Abu-Jamal has once more enlightened us, he has once more offered us new ways of thinking about law, democracy, and power. He allows us to reflect upon the fact that transformational possibilities often emerge where we least expect them.

Free Mumia!

ANGELA YVONNE DAVIS is Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness at the University of California and author of eight books. In recent years a persistent theme of her work has been the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of those communities that are most affected by poverty and racial discrimination. She draws upon her own experiences in the early 1970s as a person who spent eighteen months in jail and on trial, after being placed on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted List." She has also conducted extensive research on numerous issues related to race, gender and imprisonment. She is a member of the executive board of the Women of Color Resource Center, a San Francisco Bay Area organization that emphasizes popular education of and about women who live in conditions of poverty. Having helped to popularize the notion of a "prison industrial complex," she now urges her audiences to think seriously about the future possibility of a world without prisons and to help forge a twenty-first century abolitionist movement. Her most recent books are Abolition Democracy and Are Prisons Obsolete?, both published in the Open Media Series. Her forthcoming books, The Meaning of Freedom and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself: A New Critical Edition will also be in the Open Media Series, published by City Lights Books.