Monday, January 30, 2012

'People Power' Pries Abu-Jamal from Punitive Administrative Custody

by: Linn Washington Jr.

He's out!

Credit `people power' for getting internationally known inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal sprung from his apparently punitive, seven-week placement in `The Hole.'

For the first time since receiving a controversial death sentence in 1982 for killing a Philadelphia policeman, the widely acclaimed author-activist finds himself in general population, a prison housing status far less restrictive than the solitary confinement of death row.

Inmates in general population have full privileges to visitation, telephone and commissary, along with access to all prison programs and services, all things denied or severely limited to convicts on death row waiting to be killed by the state.

In early December 2011, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections officials, after the federal courts had removed his death penalty and the Philadelphia District Attorney opted not to attempt to re-try the penalty phase in hopes of winning a new death sentence, placed Abu-Jamal in Administrative Custody (a/k/a `The Hole').

Administrative Custody is confinement in a Spartan isolation cell where conditions are more draconian than even death row.

The release of Abu-Jamal from Administrative Custody into general population on Friday, January 27, 2012 followed with a multi-layered protest campaign by his supporters worldwide that included flooding Pennsylvania prison authorities with telephone calls, collecting petitions containing over 5,000 signatures and a complaint filed with United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Public pressure to release Mumia Abu-Jamal from the "Hole" trumped the pressure from those trying to keep torturing him.

Supporters condemned the Administrative Custody placement, calling it retaliation for Abu-Jamal's having successfully defeated the state's efforts to execute him. Abu-Jamal, a model prisoner, did not meet any of the 11 specific circumstances listed in Pennsylvania DoC regulations dictating administrative custody placement.

Prison staff evaluations of Abu-Jamal since his December death row removal, sources said, listed him as "polite [and] respectful." Those positive evaluations did not evidence any of the incorrigibility or other serious misbehaviors that usually trigger AC placement.

"When people are united around an issue they have power. This is the power of the people all races in many places," said Pam Africa, director of the Philadelphia-based International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Abu-Jamal, in a statement released through his wife Wadiya Jamal, thanked his supporters for their hard work. "I am no longer on death row, no longer in the hole, I'm in population," Abu-Jamal's statement noted. "This is only Part One and I thank you for the work you've done. But the struggle is for freedom!"

Media reports quoted Pennsylvania DoC spokespersons confirming Abu-Jamal's placement in general population at Mahanoy Prison, a medium security facility about 100 miles from Philadelphia in central Pennsylvania where he was transferred last December from another prison in western Pennsylvania that houses the state's death row.

DoC spokespersons had previously declined comment on Abu-Jamal's Administrative Custody placement, citing regulations covering inmate privacy.

Prison officials advanced ever-changing rationales for keeping Abu-Jamal in AC at Mahanoy, including the curious claim of that they were waiting for legal clarification that the courts had formally replaced Abu-Jamal's death sentence with life in prison.

That Kafkaesque claim contradicted the DoC's own documents specifically acknowledging that federal courts had vacated the death sentence (thus requiring a default life sentence) and Philadelphia's DA having dropped appeals to reinstate the death sentence.

Typical of the way that Abu-Jamal's long-running case has shone a bright light on grievous abuses within the criminal justice system, his AC placement exposed what independent prison monitors have long contended is a dirty secret of Pennsylvania's prison system: authorities using Administrative Custody isolation to maliciously penalize inmates who are not violating prison rules.

Bret Grote, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Human Rights Coalition, said during a media interview that prison authorities misuse Administrative Custody as repression against inmates for their political activism, their complaining about poor conditions in prison, their roles as jailhouse lawyers and often for racist reasons.

Grote said Pennsylvania's DoC holds approximately 2,500 of its fifty-thousand-plus prisoners in solitary confinement on any given day. That's five percent of the total.

"Andre Jacobs and Carrington Keys, two members of a group of prisoners known as the Dallas 6 [Dallas is a Pennsylvania prison] have been held in solitary for approximately 11 and nine years respectively as a result of their speaking out against torture and other human rights violations inside the state's control units," Grote said during an interview with Prison Radio.

Philadelphian Russell "Maroon" Shoats, a former Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army member, has spent 30 of his 40 years in prison inside an isolation cell despite not having any prison infractions, said his daughter Theresa Shoats during a press conference in Philadelphia held one day before Abu-Jamal's release.

"Prison officials keep my Dad in solitary instead of releasing him into general population because they say he is a leader. My Dad turns 70 this year and he has medical problems, some from being in solitary for so long. Keeping him in solitary is unfair," Shoats said about her father, who was convicted of killing a Philadelphia policeman.

"My Dad says he encourages young inmates to read to stay sane. Why does that make him too dangerous for general population? He told me that 15 young men hung themselves in SCI Greene during a one-year period."

King Downing, director of the American Friends Service Center's Healing Justice Program, said prison authorities nationwide misuse solitary confinement to "silence political prisoners." Downing hosted the press conference where Shoats spoke alongside other speakers representing Abu-Jamal.

Last October, Juan Mendez, the UN's Special Rapporteur on Torture, called on all countries worldwide to ban the use of solitary confinement of inmates as punishment and/or an extortion technique, except in very exceptional circumstances.

Mendez cited scientific studies establishing the mental and medical damage arising from prolonged isolation. His report stated that an estimated 20,000-to-25,000 persons regularly occupy solitary confinement cells across America.

Recently a federal jury awarded a New Mexico man $22-million for violations of his constitutional rights arising from his having spent two years in solitary confinement in a county jail in Albuquerque following a drunk driving arrest. Although during that entire time he was never even charged or brought to trial, authorities in Dona Ana County New Mexico vow to appeal that verdict, one of the largest damage judgements in history for illegal incarceration.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Message from Mumia and Wadiya

Mumia's Message to Supporters in call
from General Population, SCI Mahanoy
to his wife, Wadiya Jamal:

My dear friends, brothers and sisters -- I want to thank you for your real hard work and support. I am no longer on death row, no longer in the hole, I'm in population. This is only part one and I thank you all for the work you've done. But the struggle is for freedom!

Mumia and Wadiya
Ona Move. Long Live John Africa!

Friday, January 27, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Mumia Transferred to General Prison Population


As of 1/27/12, Mumia Abu-Jamal has officially been transferred to General Prison Population after being held in Administrative Custody ("The Hole" or Solitary Confinement) at SCI Mahanoy, Frackville, PA for seven weeks.  This is the first time Mumia has been in General Population since his arrest in 1981.

This comes within hours of the of delivery of over 5,500 signed petitions to Department of Corrections headquarters in Camp Hill, PA and a compliant filed with United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez.

PLEASE NOTE that while this is a victory in transferring Mumia out of the torturous Restricted Housing Unit (RHU), we call upon the closure of ALL RHU's!  Furthermore, we call upon the IMMEDIATE RELEASE of Mumia Abu-Jamal and are not disillusioned by this transfer.  FREE MUMIA NOW!

More at:

Write to Mumia to send him some love!

Mumia Abu-Jamal
SCI Mahanoy
301 Morea Road
Frackville, PA 17932

Correction: Rare Admission of Mistake in Mumia Case

From :

by Linn Washington Jr.

I made a mistake.

An article I wrote recently for TCBH about the Pennsylvania prison system’s latest punitive assault on now ex-death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal (unnecessarily continuing his solitary confinement) contained a factual misstatement.

Most journalists consider any inaccuracy an error, regardless of how small.

The Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists calls for admitting “mistakes” and correcting them promptly.

This journalist’s inaccuracy-as-error standard contrasts with court systems, where appellate courts too often dismiss mistakes made during trials by prosecutors and judges without correction by using the court-invented legalistic term: harmless error.

The Abu-Jamal case is fraught with such misconduct and mistakes that appellate courts have not only not corrected, but have allowed to fester and get worse. But you won't see the courts or the prosecutors ever admitting those things.

In my article, I inaccurately listed Pennsylvania state prison officials as being the prime movers in keeping Abu-Jamal on death row instead of transferring him into general prison population after a federal judge had voided his death sentence in a December 2001 ruling converting that sentence to a life in prison.

In that article I stated prison authorities kept Abu-Jamal on death row in 2001 “as a courtesy to Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s Office…”

Yes, keeping Abu-Jamal on death row arose from a courtesy…a courtesy that kept him on death row ten years after that 2001 ruling.

And yes, Philly’s DA (and others) did want Abu-Jamal to rot on death row.

But, no, Pennsylvania prison authorities did not extend that "courtesy."

That "courtesy" came from William Yohn, the federal District Court judge who voided Abu-Jamal’s death sentence after finding errors in the 1982 jury deliberations resulting in Abu-Jamal receiving the death penalty.

Yohn granted a request from Philadelphia’s then District Attorney Lynne Abraham, who wanted to keep the outspoken author/activist in solitary death row confinement during her appeal of Yohn’s ruling.

Author J. Patrick O’Connor, in his probative book “The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal, wrote that Abraham, “in a particularly spiteful maneuver,” requested that Yohn stay his order lifting Abu-Jamal’s death sentence and, “incredibly,” Yohn agreed.

With that "courtesy" Yohn allowed Abu-Jamal to suffer death row deprivations despite his judicial determination that Abu-Jamal had unjustly spent nearly twenty-years in solitary confinement due to that legally flawed sentence.

Abraham, in the wake of Yohn’s ruling, had blasted him.

An angry Abraham, in December 2001, said she was “completely dismayed” that Yohn had granted “any relief whatsoever.”

Abraham’s reaction ignored the fact that federal district and appellate courts in Philadelphia had cited penalty phase errors (the same failing Yohn found in Abu-Jamal’s case) in two of the four death sentences those courts voided between May and November 2001.

Maureen Faulkner, the widow of slain Officer Daniel Faulkner, had also blasted Yohn, calling him a “sick and twisted person,” despite Yohn dismissing 28 of the 29 appeal claims raised by Abu-Jamal, including all claims regarding his conviction, which if accepted could have led to a new trial for Abu-Jamal, possibly leading to his release.

While my article inaccurately assigned that "courtesy" off keeping Abu-Jamal on death row to prison authorities instead of Yohn, the article did accurately account for the wasted costs of that "courtesy."

Keeping Abu-Jamal on death row for an additional decade cost Pennsylvania taxpayers at least $100,000 because the state's prison system spends at last an extra ten thousand dollars per year over the cost of incarcerating ordinary prisoners to handle each death row inmate.

In early December 2011, prison authorities finally shifted Abu-Jamal from death row into more harshly restrictive Administrative Custody (a/k/a The Hole) hours after Philadelphia’s DA announced he would not seek reinstatement of a death sentence.

Yohn’s 2001 ruling required the DA to either hold a mini-trial in an effort to obtain a new death sentence from a new jury, or to accept a sentence of life imprisonment. The federal Third Circuit Appeals Court twice upheld Yohn’s ruling and the U.S. Supreme Court finally ended appeals of Yohn’s ruling last fall.

One of the many problems with the Abu-Jamal case is the refusal of police, prosecutors, prison authorities and judges to acknowledge mistakes or worse, misconduct -- both things that are not harmless.

Yohn, for example, made “several” mistakes in that 2001 ruling “on questions of constitutional rights central to commonly held concepts of justice,” as my TCBH colleague Dave Lindorff put it in his seminal book Killing Time: An Investigation Into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Lindorff presented a disturbing, thorough analysis of Yohn’s flawed dismissal of Abu-Jamal’s jury selection discrimination appeal claims in his 2003 book.

The Third Circuit rejected Abu-Jamal’s jury discrimination appeal in 2008 despite the Third Circuit's having granted relief to other death row inmates he had raised identical jury discrimination claims.

In another mistake by Yohn that escaped scrutiny and correction by federal appellate judges, the respected jurist brushed-off Abu-Jamal’s claims that his attorney during the 1982 trial was legally ineffective because that lawyer was inexperienced in death penalty law, undercapitalized and lacked adequate support staff during that 1982 trial.

Yohn seized upon erroneous state court findings that attorney Anthony Jackson “had tried approximately twenty” first-degree murder cases. Pennsylvania state courts had twisted the exact testimony Jackson gave during a 1995 Post-Conviction Relief Actl hearing about his capital case experience.

During three days of testimony in July 1995, Jackson had repeatedly told Abu-Jamal’s appellate attorney Leonard Weinglass that he had tried "one or two" capital murder cases, serving as lead counsel only once.

According to transcripts from 1995, Jackson first told Abu-Jamal’s appeal attorney that he had tried one or two first-degree murder cases. On cross-examination by the prosecutor, Jackson did say he tried twenty murder cases but stressed that only “one or two” of those cases were death penalty cases…testimony the prosecutor did not challenge with contrary evidence. On re-direct from Abu-Jamal’s attorney, Jackson again said he had only handled one or two capital cases.

Jackson, also during that 1995 testimony, said he had received inadequate funding from the courts for his defense efforts, that he had no paralegals and investigators to assist him, that a Philadelphia judge rejected his request for another lawyer to assist him and at the time of Abu-Jamal’s trial he only had a part-time secretary because he had returned to private practice only months earlier.

Yohn and lower Pennsylvania state court judges rejected Jackson’s admission that he was “ineffective” during Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial, arguing that Jackson’s defense effort was legally sufficient.

Yohn asserted that “even were I to assume that Jackson was inexperienced, undercapitalized and lacked adequate support, [Abu-Jamal did not] demonstrate that there is a reasonable probability that but for these [conditions] the result of the proceeding would have been different.”

While Pennsylvania prison officials kept Abu-Jamal in solitary confinement for ten unnecessary years on Judge Yohn’s orders, his current continued solitary confinement is solely the responsibility of those prison officials.

As I reported in my article, the draconian Administrative Custody confinement rammed on Abu-Jamal by prison authorities evidences violations of the prison system’s own written regulations, because that placement does not meet any of the 11 specific circumstances listed in Pennsylvania Department of Corrections regulations used to justify administrative custody placement.

The “current rationales offered by prison officials for [Abu-Jamal’s] placement in solitary confinement do not withstand scrutiny, which lends further support to the inference that he is continuing to be targeted,” said Bret Grote, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Human Rights Coalition, during a recent interview.

Typical of Abu-Jamal’s selflessness, he directs his supporters to fight not just against his unjust confinement but also to assist the scores of other people the state's Department of Corrections unjustly holds in solitary confinement on a daily basis, according to data from HRC, a prison-monitoring organization.

Grote said prison authorities improperly use Administrative Custody to penalize inmates for their political activism, for complaining about conditions, for their roles as jailhouse lawyers and often simply for racist reasons.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Occupy The U.S. Justice Deptartment on Mumia's Birthday - April 24th, 2012

From Ramona Africa:

ONA MOVE, Everybody!  It's time to step up our actions on behalf of our brother freedom fighter, Mumia Abu Jamal.  We need to make it crystal clear that we the people won't stand for this vindictive sadistic torturing of Mumia by those that are furious at not being able to legally murder him.  You are being strongly urged to demonstrate your outrage at the torture being done to Mumia specifically and to all freedom fighters generally, by participating in an occupy for Mumia and against mass incarceration action. 

We (The Occupy For Mumia Committee) are calling on people internationally to occupy The U.S. Justice Dept. on April 24th, 2012.  

April 24th is Mumia's birthday, his 58th birthday.  There is no better day or place to stand up for Mumia and and against the sadism of this system.  There is plenty of time to prepare for it, plenty of time to organize buses, raise money for airfares and train fares, etc.  People from France and Germany are already preparing to be here, so let's do this, for ourselves  as much as for Mumia. 

I need individuals and organizations, worldwide, to respond to this call, this email, and tell me if you are serious about being in Washington DC. on  April 24th for this action.   I'm looking for strong positive responses from you, ASAP


Sunday, Feb. 5th, Philly: Book Party for Mumia's new book with Marc Lamont Hill

Sunday, February 5th
5:00-7:30 pm
Dowling’s Palace - 1310 N. Broad St.


Marc Lamont Hill
Ramona Africa
Tony Montero
Michael Coard
Mumia’s daughter, Goldi
A Legal Update
A Movement Report-back

Free jazz begins after this event. If you enter after 7pm the jazz show is $5

Come celebrate this profound work from the brilliant minds of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Marc Lamont Hill. The DA’s office has been lying about Mumia’s character for decades. Come meet the real Mumia in his own words. Join the movement to free this innocent man and oppose the “New Jim Crow” - the Prison Industrial Complex!

To see Marc Lamont Hill's powerful speech at the December 9th Mumia event, go here:

To read a review of "The Classroom and the Cell," go here:

Sponsored by International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the MOVE Organization, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC), Educators for Mumia, the International Action Center 267-760-7344

Philly Press Conference to Demand an End to Mumia's Torturous Isolation!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

There will be a press conference this Thursday, January 26, at  the  AFSC, at 1501 Cherry Street (Philly) at 10 AM (note new time).   Our focus will be to call for Mumia's immediate transfer into general population.

There will be a second press conference at Camp Hill, headquarters of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and where Secretary John Wetzel has his office, at 2 PM.  We will be delivering letters from lawyers' organizations and from Mumia supporters to John 0Wetzel at the press conference. 


*Please alert your media contacts*

Since Mumia's death sentence was dropped on December 7th he's been held in isolation under conditions far worse than those on death row. On Friday, 1/27 a delegation of supporters and prison rights activists will travel to Camp Hill prison to take our demands directly to the Department of Corrections. We will deliver our letters and petitions to demand an end to these conditions for Mumia and all prisoners being tortured in isolation.

Go here to sign the petition:

Mumia was held in solitary confinement on death row for over ten years despite a standing court order declaring his death sentence illegal. He is now being punished because the District Attorney and Fraternal Order of Police are defeated in legally lynching him. Now the state is trying to silence Mumia by other means. He is currently being held in degrading, torturous Adminstrative Custody (AC) at SCI Mahanoy, a medium security prison. The Department of Corrections has bogus excuses for why Mumia is not in general population with contact visits, phone calls, and his legal, reading, and writing materials. Instead Mumia is in "the hole,” shackeled whenever he's outside his cell (even to the shower), glaring lights 24/7, no regular phone calls, restrictive visits, inadequate commissary, no access to his materials and denied his typewriter. The Department of Corrections is subjecting Mumia to daily conditions that are more onerous than death row!

These are the conditions in the Restricted Housing Units called Administrative Custody, Disciplinary Custody, and Special Management Unit. They are designed to torture and we demand that they be shut down!

This issue is critical to the fight to free Mumia from prison. Mumia is innocent. He was framed up by the police, District Attorney, and a racist judge for being a political opponent of the government. Mumia will not be silenced. Stop the torture!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mumia Abu-Jamal and the Crime of Solitary Confinement

From Prison Radio Project:

There is no dream too big and no action too small, let's keep at it till the walls crumble. 
– Bret Grote, Human Rights Coalition

An interview with Bret Grote by Hans Bennett of Prison Radio
In this interview we speak with Bret Grote from Human Rights Coalition (HRC), who's website describes itself as "a group of predominately prisoners' families, ex-prisoners and some supporters," whose "ultimate goal is to abolish prisons." HRC seeks "to empower prisoners' families to be leaders in prison organizing, while at the same time reduce the shame of having a loved one in prison or being formerly incarcerated," and "to make visible to the public the injustice and abuse that are common practice throughout our judicial and prison systems across the country, and eventually end those abuses." Learn more at

Prison Radio:         Supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal argue that his current time in the hole is a form of retaliation for his being a longtime political activist. In his recent article entitled, "Sadism in the Cell: Thanks to a Vindictive Prison System, Abu-Jamal is Still in `The Hole,'" Linn Washington Jr. contextualizes recent events by documenting a long history of repression, ultimately arguing that "while Abu-Jamal detractors indignantly dismiss all claims of his being a political prisoner, his post-arrest ordeals provide a compelling case of a person specifically targeted by authorities for who he is politically more than for the crime he is supposedly serving time for." Why do you think it is that Mumia is currently being held in "Administrative Custody?"

Bret Grote:    In regard to Mumia, the inference should always be that the government is targeting him because of his politics due to the more than forty years that federal agents, Philadelphia police and prosecutors, governors of Pennsylvania, and prison officials have been conspiring to silence him. The current rationales offered by prison officials for his placement in solitary confinement do not withstand scrutiny, which lends further support to the inference that he is continuing to be targeted.

First, they asserted that they were waiting for the filing of paperwork by the District Attorney's office of Philadelphia so that his sentence would be formally changed from death to life without the possibility of parole. According to information available on the DOC's website, however, all death-sentenced prisoners are held on death row at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Greene or SCI Graterford. Abu-Jamal was removed from death row virtually as soon as Philadelphia DA Seth Williams announced he would not seek to re-impose the death penalty. If the prison were in fact waiting for a formal re-sentencing prior to placement in general population, Mumia would still be on death row.

Second, they have recently decided that his hair exceeds the regulatory length and that he needs this cut. It took them five weeks to notify him of this. Obviously, the length of Mumia's hair was not unknown to prison officials. In fact, he was held on disciplinary status while on death row earlier during his confinement for eight years, although he was removed from that status-without cutting his hair-in the early-90s at some point.

The shifting rationales indicate that they are digging their heels in and seem prepared to try to continue subjecting Mumia to solitary confinement torture, which has been his fate for thirty years.

It is important to note that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has recently declared that, in his opinion, prolonged solitary confinement of more than fifteen days violates article 1 (prohibiting torture) or 16 (prohibiting other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment) of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment. He further stated that the Convention is violated when solitary confinement is imposed as punishment. These standards applied to U.S. prisons renders the overwhelming majority of solitary confinement practices criminal.

PR:     Can you please tell us more about how PA Prisons use solitary confinement and what are called "Restrictive Housing Units." How is it used? Against whom? Are there other examples of solitary confinement punishment being used to retaliate against political activists?

BG:     While the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) operates in a seemingly arbitrary nature, there are some factors that place prisoners at high-risk for being kept in long-term solitary confinement: 1) political activism and jailhouse lawyering; 2) race; and 3) mental illness.

To start with, those who file grievances about staff misconduct and abuse, or file lawsuits about civil and human rights violations, are routinely subjected to repressive treatment. Pennsylvania is far from alone in this practice. Professor of Corrections and Correctional Law at Minnesota State University, James Robertson, has stated that "Retaliation is deeply engrained in the correctional office subculture; it may well be in the normative response when an inmate files a grievance, a statutory precondition for filing a civil rights action." He also refers to a survey of Ohio prisoners that found "that 70.1% of inmates who brought grievances indicated that they had suffered retaliation thereafter; moreover, 87% of all respondents and nearly 92% of the inmates using the grievance process agreed with the statement, `I believe staff will retaliate or get back at me if I use the grievance process.' [FN18] Among staff supervisors, only 21% believed that retaliation never happened, with one warden characterizing it as `commonplace' when inmates resort to the grievance process." As Robertson says, guards who retaliate "cannot be regarded as rogue actors. They act within the norm." ("One of the Dirty Secrets of American Corrections": Retaliation, Surplus Power, and Whistleblowing Inmates, 42 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 611 (2009)).

Russell Maroon Shoats, a former Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army member who has been incarcerated in PA prisons for almost 40 years is a prominent example of a political prisoner targeted for repression via placement in long-term solitary. Maroon has been held in the hole for more than twenty years and has not had a misconduct citation during that time. Although it is true that he escaped in the late 70s and early 80s, prison officials have told supporters and family that he is being kept in solitary because he is an organizer and a leader.

Andre Jacobs and Carrington Keys, two members of a group of prisoners known as the Dallas 6, have been held in solitary for approximately 11 and 9 years respectively as a result of their speaking out against torture and other human rights violations inside PA's control units.

Damont Hagan is another who has been continually targeted for his outspokenness, including a recent incident where he was assaulted and placed in a cell with nooses at SCI Huntingdon. He was recently held in the solitary units at SCI Cresson, a prison that the Justice Department has announced an investigation into, in part due to the guard-encouraged suicide of John McClellan in May 2011.

Caine Pelzer, Ravanna Spencer, Rhonshawn Jackson, Michael Edwards, Jerome Coffey, Andre Gay, Kerry Shakaboona Marshall, and countless others have been thrown into solitary for the sole purpose of breaking their spirit. Look them up on the PA DOC inmate locator and send them a letter.

Regarding race, the disparities within the solitary confinement population may be the most extreme in the entire criminal legal system, which is saying a lot. We do not know the exact figures because the demographics are not public, but reports of solitary units overwhelmingly comprised of people of color in PA prisons are common.

Over the last thirty-plus years there has been a national trend of warehousing those with mental health needs inside prisons. These people often end up in prison because of their difficulties in adapting to life outside the walls, often because of experiences of childhood trauma and substance abuse, and their challenges in navigating social life is even more difficult inside the walls. The stresses of prison can lead to them getting in trouble with prison authorities due to an inability to follow the rules, which leads them to solitary, which leads to a worsening of their underlying psychological state. This cycle of dysfunction is a normative feature of prison systems across the U.S.

This nexus of retaliation, racism, and abuse of the mentally ill is widespread in PA prisons, and there is no shortage of examples to be found by reviewing the weekly PA Prison Reports on our website.

PR:     Besides solitary confinement, what other aspects of PA prisons does HRC identify as human rights violations?

BG:     Some of the obvious examples include physical abuse, medical neglect, racial discrimination, and sexual violence, all of which are chronic issues in prisons within Pennsylvania and beyond. In regard to the latter, a guard at SCI Pittsburgh was recently indicted on about 100 counts related to his rape and torture of prisoners at that facility. This is also being investigated by the Justice Department. This story has been suppressed in the national media, a phenomenon commented on by Mumia (1,2), in what can only be understood as yet another example of the corporate media's complicity in enabling torture in U.S. prisons.

Of course, race-based policies of mass incarceration violate the human right of equality under the law and the right to be free from racial discrimination. Michelle Alexander refers to this aspect of the U.S. prison nation as "the new Jim Crow." Under international law it is known as apartheid, and it is prohibited under the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. The United States has never signed or ratified the convention for reasons that should be obvious enough.

Pennsylvania is the world leader in another egregious human rights abuse: sending children to prison for the rest of their lives. There are more than 400 people in PA prisons who were sentenced for crimes allegedly committed when they were younger than 18. In this state, life means life, an utterly despicable practice that makes a cruel mockery of any pretense that the society we inhabit is humane, enlightened, or fair.

Also of great importance in any discussion of the criminal legal system is the series of laws that enable "legal" discrimination against formerly incarcerated people, prohibiting them from obtaining access to food, housing, employment, stripping people of their right to vote in many states (though not PA) and setting them up for a life of poverty that guarantees high recidivism rates. This should be understood as a matter of deliberate policy, as it has been going on so long that it cannot plausibly be an unintended consequence of an otherwise sound system.

The system works to violate human rights in such a comprehensive manner, from the socio-economic conditions that give rise to property and drug crimes and related acts of violence to the damaging and anti-human conditions inside the walls, and then to be  released into a life of second-class status, enforced poverty, and political disenfranchisement, that it is hard to see how it is `legal' in anything but pretense.

PR:     How is Human Rights Coalition working with PA prisoners and their families to improve conditions for PA prisoners?

In Pittsburgh and Philly we have weekly letter-writing to prisoners nights. Visit our website (Pittsburgh or Philly) to learn more and email us at or We are constantly receiving phone calls and emails from people looking to advocate for their loved ones. In 2011 we initiated a Political Action Committee in order to be better organized through the building of a membership base and engaging in consistent acts of advocacy, education events, and building other campaigns. The PAC is in real need of some committed organizers to help us build momentum.

One of the campaigns we've been increasingly involved with here in Pittsburgh is Decarcerate PA, which was started in Philadelphia. While the broader vision is to push for decarceration – shrinking the prison population, closing prisons, redirecting social resources to programs that care for people and communities – the immediate objective is to push back against planned prison expansion. The state of Pennsylvania is sinking some $685 million into building two new prisons and expanding a host of others. If more people are continually sent into these hellholes, then our efforts to improve conditions in any given situation will be futile.

PR:     What is HRC doing specifically to challenge the use of solitary confinement?

BG:     Aside from public education and advocacy, we are working to develop a legislative campaign with allied organizations such as the American Friends Service Committee, the NationalReligious Campaign Against Torture, and the ACLU. While it is still in the planning stages, this campaign can be useful as a means for furthering political organizing objectives.

Ultimately, any efforts to push back against torture and get people out of prison is contingent upon the wholesale removal from power of both corporate-backed imperial parties, the redistribution and redefinition of political power, and the elimination of an economic system with its roots in the market, replaced by one that has its roots in the earth. Anything less spells certain doom for our specific efforts to abolish solitary confinement, mass incarceration, and prisons, as well as our very survival on this planet.

PR:     HRC is also now starting a campaign to have Russell Shoats transferred out of solitary confinement at SCI-Greene. How can our readers support this?

BG:     Russell Shoats, discussed above, is a co-founder of HRC who has spent 20 years in the hole as a consequence of his principles and resistance to the inhumanity and criminality of this system. He is a 68-year-old revolutionary who has taught and inspired countless other prisoners and activists inside and outside the walls.

Along with HRC, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyers Guild have submitted letters to the PA DOC requesting that Maroon be released into general population.

Supporters can visit a recently-created website and click the "Follow" link at the bottom right to receive email updates when new postings are available. There is a sample letter on the site, and soon more material will be added. A new interview was just posted where Maroon discusses his thoughts on the importance of democracy and self-determination to movement building, the power of the feminist movement and matriarchal politics, Occupy Wall Street, and the imperative of centering food security (and square-foot gardening) in our movements.

PR:     Anything else to add?

BG:     It is absolutely critical to the fate of movements for social justice in this country that the situation of prisoners and the function of prisons in the social order take a central role in our analysis and practice. Everybody can correspond with a prisoner, help out a local group, get on email lists, and research the reality of the prison nation. It is not the land of the free, never was, never was intended to be, and the sooner we disabuse those around us of that notion the better chance there is to win some badly-needed victories. There is no dream too big and no action too small, let's keep at it till the walls crumble.


John Wetzel, Secretary Department of Corrections 
2520 Lisburn Road
P.O. Box 598, Camp Hill, PA 17001-0598
(717) 975-4928

Urgent Message Regarding Mumia

As most of you already know, Mumia was transferred to SCI-Mahanoy in upstate PA. more than a month ago, directly after Phila. prosecutor Seth Williams announced that he wasn't pursuing the death penalty in Mumia's case.  This meant that Mumia's sentence went from death to life in prison without parole.  Since arriving at SCI-Mahanoy, Mumia has been in the hole, on AC (administrative custody) status, solitary confinement, even though there is no valid reason for him to be in the hole.  The conditions are tortuous and much worse than the conditions on death row.  These conditions have been condemned by the United Nations as tortuous.  Since arriving at Mahanoy, Superintendent John Kerestes and his staff have gone from one thing to the next to vent their fury and racism on Mumia.  First they claimed to be waiting on paperwork that Mumia's sentence is a life sentence and not death, but Mahanoy has no death chamber so Mumia would never be sent there if he still had a death sentence. When people saw right through that, Kerestes said that Mumia has to cut his hair before going into general population, now he's saying that Mumia has to let them take his blood (something Mumia really doesn't want to do) before he can be in general population.  Mumia has been in prison for 30 years so why this sudden demand for his blood now.  It is crystal clear that Kerestes and his staff are doing everything they can to keep Mumia in the hole under these tortuous conditions, and it's all rooted in racism and their fury at all the world-wide attention that stays focused on Mumia, after all these years.  They're furious that their plan to legally kill Mumia ain't working.  They're torturing Mumia for the same reason the Romans tortured Jesus Christ, because he won't go along with the lies of the system and racism.  Prison policy has nothing to do with what they're doing to Mumia and everybody should be clear on this.  We must be vigilant over Mumia, including organizations that can visit him on an official basis.  We must continue to flood Supt. Kerestes with calls and emails.  Mumia is up in serious racist KKK territory and we must have his back.  We've brought Mumia too far to get lax now.  Remember, the power of the people is a force to be reckoned with when the power of the people stays consistent and united.

International Concerned Family And Friends Of Mumia Abu Jamal and

The Move Organization


Write, Phone, and Email the Secretary of Corrections. Demand that Mumia be transferred to General Population! And demand the shutdown of RHU (Restricted Housing Unit) Torture Blocks!

John Wetzl, Secretary Department of Corrections
2520 Lisburn Road, P.O. Box 598 Camp Hill, PA 17001-0598
(717) 975-4928

Write, Phone, and Email the Superintendent:

John Kerestes, Superintendent
SCI Mahanoy
301 Morea Road
Frackville, PA 17932
(570) 773-2158 - Fax: (570) 783-2008

Write, Phone, and Email the Philadelphia DA. Demand that they petition the court to free Mumia, based on suppression of evidence. They have buried evidence and the truth for 30 years. The police corruption and the frame up of Mumia must be exposed.

Seth Williams, DA Philadelphia
Three South Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3499
(215) 686-8000

Finally, send Mumia a note or a card:

Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
SCI Mahanoy
301 Morea Road
Frackville, PA 17932

There also is a petition up at:

Department of Corrections claims Mumia is in solitary because of his dreadlocks

From Prison Radio Project:

Mumia and supporters renew request to close torture units in PA prisons

In a statement issued late Thursday, January 12, an attorney for Mumia Abu-Jamal reported that he has been given a new reason for his continued solitary confinement - his long dreadlocks.

Prison authorities at SCI Mahanoy claim Abu-Jamal will be held in the Restricted Housing Unit on disciplinary custody until he cuts his hair. This is an old tactic that was used against Mumia when he was a death row prisoner. He spent 8 years on disciplinary status in death row until he was removed from that status--without getting a haircut--in the early 1990s.

It has taken prison officials five weeks to invent this new pretext for continuing the  30-year-long solitary confinement torture of Abu-Jamal. Mumia and his supporters are calling for his immediate release to general population and the shut down of all of the solitary units in PA.

Sign a petition to transfer Mumia out of the hole.

Read and forward this press release from the National Lawyers Guild: "After death row transfer, NLG VP Mumia Abu-Jamal languishes in solitary"

Contact Department of Corrections officials and let them know you are not fooled and will not tolerate efforts to silence and torture Mumia:

1) Write, Phone, and email the Secretary of Corrections: Demand that Mumia be transferred to General Population! And demand the shutdown of RHU (Restricted Housing Unit) Torture Blocks!

John Wetzl, Secretary Department of Corrections
2520 Lisburn Road, P.O. Box 598, Camp Hill, PA 17001-0598
(717) 975-4928  Email:

2) Write, Phone, and email the Superintendent:
John Kerestes, Superintendent
SCI Mahanoy
301 Morea Road
Frackville, PA 17932
(570) 773-2158  Fax: (570) 783-2008

3) Write, Phone, and email the Philadelphia DA. Demand that they petition the court to free Mumia, based on suppression of evidence. They have buried evidence and the truth for 30 years. The police corruption and the frame up of 
Mumia must be exposed.

Seth Williams, DA Philadelphia
Three South Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3499
(215) 686-8000  Email:
and finally, send Mumia a note or a card:

Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
SCI Mahanoy
301 Morea Road
Frackville, PA 17932

Visit Prison Radio to listen to Mumia's radio commentaries

Visit HRC's website to learn about the reality of solitary confinement torture in PA.

The Classroom and the Cell: Conversations on Black Life in America: A Review


By Terrenda White

More than 10 years ago, I first heard someone speak of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His name wasn’t spoken really, as much as it was chanted, by a chorus of others who displayed large banners reading, “FREE MUMIA!”

It was 2001 and I was in Durban, South Africa attending the World Conference Against Racism. At the time, I thought it odd that one man had galvanized so many, and on such an international scale—I was literally on the other side of the planet learning about the unjust conviction, incarceration, and looming death of a Philadelphia journalist and former Black Panther, Mumia Abu-Jamal.

But while many supporters continue to speak out, or chant passionately, on behalf of Abu-Jamal’s freedom and the cause he represents, there is nothing more powerful than the words he speaks himself.

In The Classroom and The Cell: Conversations on Black Life in America, Abu-Jamal dialogues with Columbia University Professor Marc Lamont Hill, a scholar-activist and eloquent speaker himself, on matters of politics, culture, love, and black liberation.

Together, the two men seem to vibe on almost every aspect of contemporary life in America—pushing the reader beyond renderings of Abu-Jamal as a slogan or symbol for a single cause, and inviting us to engage with him on matters which extend beyond the prison cell.

There are important chapters on incarceration and the specter of execution which Abu-Jamal has faced until recently.  (In December, after 30 years on Death Row, Abu-Jamal’s death sentence was commuted to life without parole.) But, the majority of this book –eight chapters in all—touches on identity, race in the age of Obama, hip-hop and black cultural politics, education, black love, and masculinity.

Despite Abu-Jamal’s more than 30-years of incarceration, he shares with Hill remarkably current, empathetic, and courageous thoughts on life. He also shares hope.  In many instances, the older Abu-Jamal affirms the younger Hill, encouraging the professor to work through the unique challenges of being a public intellectual. An interesting exchange occurs, when Abu-Jamal, responding to Hill’s existential question of ‘Who are you?’ responds, ‘I am a free Black man living in captivity.’ With powerful irony, Hill replies:

When I think about myself, all sorts of words come to mind. Depending on the situation, I would say things like “father,” “activist,” “writer,” or “professor.” But “free” is one thing I wouldn’t say for myself. In fact, I would describe you as being far freer than me. I can’t avoid seeing the irony that you’re in prison but somehow still free, while I’m out here feeling profoundly un-free.

Though coming-of-age a generation apart, the two men share a deep knowledge of black revolutionary politics which continues to shape their activism and scholarship today. Both natives of Philadelphia, they are two men whom W.E.B Dubois might call Philadelphia Negroes of the 21st century. Abu-Jamal was influenced by the Black Panthers and the writings of Huey P. Newton, and Hill by the cultural nationalism of black religious groups and later by hip-hop culture. Those experiences enrich their debate over black cultural politics and the changing notion of revolution.

Abu-Jamal reminds us that revolution in the late 60s was more than a metaphor for innovative cultural forms and represented an impending sense of real political change. While Hill agrees that youth culture today,
such as hip-hop, deserves serious critique and that much of its content is commercial, he says its form is revolutionary nonetheless. Hill argues, moreover, that it’s misguided to expect today’s black art forms to bear so much responsibility for change, particularly since real political struggle and black organized revolutionary change (characteristic of Abu-Jamal’s generation) are woefully absent.

One particularly insightful conversation between Abu-Jamal and Hill is their discussion of incarceration and prison reform. They attribute the explosion in incarceration over the past thirty years, for example, not only to problematic public policies such as the war on drugs, but also to postindustrial macroeconomic shifts that have reduced the employment prospects of black men in urban areas. 

Though Abu-Jamal and Hill are deeply reflective on racism and its dehumanizing impact on black men and women, they equally share a strong critique of black bourgeoisie society. Indeed, the men ponder the social-spatial and cultural distance of poor blacks (the “lumpen-proleteriat”) from the rest of middle class black community. The eradication of the prison industrial complex, they acknowledge, will require the mobilization of an otherwise complacent professional group of middle class blacks (a point they recognize is highlighted by Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow).

As the book moves to its end, both men reveal personal aspects of their individual struggles and limitations, letting down the walls of their public personas, as they discuss issues of love, sex, and masculinity. Hill argues – somewhat to Abu-Jamal’s surprise — that the construct of “masculinity” may be unsalvageable, because it is rooted too deeply in patriarchy and violence.

Throughout the book, the discussion between the two men is constructive, not combative. They seem to genuinely learn from one another and build on each other’s ideas.  Through their candid and rigorous conversations, the reader learns a lot. Plus, each chapter ends with a recommended reading list of critical books that have informed their perspectives.

While Jamal will avoid execution, he is experiencing what Desmond Tutu calls “yet another form of death sentence,” life without parole. The movement to free Abu-Jamal wages on, therefore, until his wrongful conviction is overturned completely.

Paradoxically, despite the daunting struggle which lies ahead for Abu-Jamal, the book ends with Hill leaning on him for guidance and hope. Having faced the threat of death for what amounts to my total years living on earth, Abu-Jamal reminds Hill, and thus the reader, of the incredible resilience of our ancestors and their sustaining powers of love and joy.

From his cell,  Abu-Jamal reminds us that, “Whether it’s making jokes while sitting on death row, singing sorrow songs while working on a slave plantation, or everyday Black people living under hellish conditions, we’ve always managed to retrieve joy from a pile of misery.” I have no doubt that Abu-Jamal will be legally and physically liberated from his hellish misery one day—hopefully in the near future.  Ironically, he is as mentally free in consciousness as any of us are now, perhaps more so.

From Berlin:Mumia and Johanna Fernandez at Rosa Luxemburg Conference

Letter to Suzanne Ross of Free Mumia Coalition NYC:

Dear Suzanne,

I'm sure you remember the trouble with last year's Rosa Luxemburg Conference. Thanks to your effort and a bit of persistance on our side we managed to have a great event on Mumia this year.

Mumia wrote a speech from A.C., which his daughter and Francis Goldin spoke for him. Johanna Fernandez came over and gave a brilliant speech. On the next day we went with her to the Luxemburg-Liebknecht demonstration and afterwards to the Berlin leg of global action day by the Occupy Movement where she spoke, too. People were delighted.

Mumia Abu-Jamal - Beitrag für die Rosa-Luxemburg-Konferenz,
Berlin am 14.1.2012 (engl)

Johanna Fernandez on Mumia Abu-Jamal (Berlin, January 2012) - Part 1 (engl)

Johanna Fernandez on Mumia Abu-Jamal (Berlin, January 2012) - Part 2 (engl)

Johanna Fernandez in discussion with Berlin audiance on Mumia Abu-Jamal - Jan 2012 (engl and german)

Thank you for "coming to our rescue" last year. That was the foundation for this year's event, which really inspired many people and came just in time to push forward. I'm sure Mumia and the SCI Mahanoy will get a lot of post in the next days. We are mobilizing for a demonstration on April 21 over here - and something other in April, which I will write about later.

Greetings from all of us,


London 2/4 All Day Mumia Abu-Jamal Event

Mumia Abu Jamal All Day event

Sat 4th February 11am to 1pm then 2-5pm

BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road SE1
Tube: Waterloo

Admission £5.00 best to book early

A day of films and discussion about Mumia Abu-Jamal, civil rights campaigner currently serving a life sentence in the US

Join part or the whole day  - the main film will take place in the afternoon.


Welcome / brief intro duction giving background for JUSTICE DENIED documentary,  hitherto unseen film featuring last video appearance of Mumia (on Death Row) .


Panel discussion featuring Avery Gordon ( Professor of Sociologist UCLA ) , Chair Colin Prescod (Institue of Race Relations ) to respond to questions raised by the film and its wider context in US and UK

Afternoon 2pm :


I was born in London on December 9th 1981. Over 3000 miles away Mumia Abu-Jamal, a Black Panther and radical journalist, was arrested for the murder of a police officer in Philadelphia. He claimed he was innocent but was sentenced to death and has been awaiting execution ever since. Over the years, he has attracted massive international support from organisations like Amnesty International and world leaders like Nelson Mandela amongst others. I'm now 24 years old and in that time Mumia has become the most famous and controversial death row inmate in America".

Despite his situation, and against all odds, Mumia has managed to penetrate the consciousness of people like Will. Through his writings and his web and radio broadcasts from Death Row, he has become known to many as "the Voice of the Voiceless".

"In Prison My Whole Life" takes us to some surprising places and brings us into contact with some of America's most original minds. Never-seen-before footage and brand new evidence create a prevailing case for reasonable doubt while exploring the socio-political climate of America  past and present. Angela Davis, Mos Def, Noam Chomsky, Alice Walker, Snoop Dogg, Steve Earle, Amy Goodman and many others take us through a decades-old struggle for equality, fairness and respect that so many Americans strive for to this day

Followed by panel discussion with   Avery Gordon,  Colin Prescod , Director Marc Evans, Producer Livia Firth  

Focus of the discussion will be
To consider the events subsequent to Mumia coming off Death Row,
The wider history of the Civil Rights movement and its  relation to prison system,
UK prison system

Tickets for the morning session are £3.00 and £5.00 for the afternoon session
BOX OFFICE 0207 928 3232 

Thanks to a Vindictive Prison System, Mumia's Still in the Hole

from counterpunch:

January 18, 2012
Sadism in the Cell

by Linn Washington, Jr.

Those intent on tormenting now ex-death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal have done it again, this time perhaps even exceeding their past efforts to painfully harass this man widely perceived as a political prisoner.

The latest punitive slap involves Pennsylvania prison authorities throwing Abu-Jamal into “Administrative Custody,” more commonly known as ‘The Hole.’

The draconian constraints of AC placement surpass the harsh restrictions of the death row isolation Abu-Jamal has endured for over a quarter century.

A jury sentenced Abu-Jamal to death following a controversial July 1982 conviction for killing a Philadelphia policeman.

No surprise that this latest punitive assault against Abu-Jamal has his worldwide support movement in an uproar. Supporters see AC placement as retaliation by those incensed that Abu-Jamal is no longer facing execution.

Energizing supporters is the opposite of what Philadelphia’s District Attorney Seth Williams said he desired when he announced last month that his office would not seek reinstitution of Abu-Jamal’s death sentence. At the time, DA Williams said he hoped avoiding a rehearing on the death sentence would consign Abu-Jamal to obscurity.

Pennsylvania’s governor and the president of Philadelphia’s police union also used the word obscurity when voicing their hopes that the life sentence for Abu-Jamal would decimate his cause célèbre status among death penalty abolitions worldwide.

Prison authorities removed Abu-Jamal from death row mere hours after the Philadelphia DA’s December announcement, transferring him to an Administrative Custody cell block inside the same super-max Greene prison located more than 300-miles from Philadelphia in southwest Pennsylvania.

Prison officials rejected the standard procedure of placing Abu-Jamal in general population, the status for all inmates not sentenced to death.

Significantly, inmates in general population have full privileges to visitation (contact, not conjugal contact), telephone and commissary, along with access to all prison programs and services.

Administrative Custody restrictions, on the other hand, are punitive in nature, including a limited number of visits, no telephone calls (except legal or emergency) and limitations on access to legal materials needed for appeals.

Sue Bensinger, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, declined comment on Abu-Jamal’s case citing the Department’s “security and privacy” regulations.

Bensinger did confirm that authorities now hold Abu-Jamal in Mahanoy, a medium security prison about 100 miles from Philadelphia in central Pennsylvania. Mahanoy, by Department regulation, cannot hold death row prisoners.

DoC personnel moved Abu-Jamal to Mahanoy from Greene prison during an unannounced pre-dawn transfer on December 14, 2011.

Abu-Jamal’s December removal from death row was in belated compliance with federal court rulings voiding Abu-Jamal’s death sentence. That sentence launched Abu-Jamal’s decade’s long grind on Pennsylvania’s death row – an ordeal that a string of federal court rulings since 2001 have declared to have been reached illegally and unconstitutionally.

When a federal District Court judge voided Abu-Jamal’s death sentence in December 2001, converting it to a life sentence, Pennsylvania prison authorities refused to remove him from death row. Authorities justified their refusal to transfer Abu-Jamal into general population from death row in 2001 as extending a “courtesy” to Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s Office, to that city’s police union (the Fraternal Order of Police) and to the widow of the slain officer.

The FOP, the widow and the DA’s Office, including Williams and his predecessor Lynne Abraham, actively lobbied year after year for Abu-Jamal’s continuance on death row during their unsuccessful appeals of that 2001 ruling ending his capital sentence.

Those malicious demands for Abu-Jamal’s continued death row confinement sought to inflict increased suffering through keeping Abu-Jamal mired in the deprivations of death row isolation.

That “courtesy” also cost taxpayers at least $100,000, because it costs Pennsylvania’s prison system an extra ten thousand dollars per year to handle each death row inmate, according to prison system spokespersons.

That “courtesy” cost adds to the enormous expenditures Philadelphia prosecutors have made fighting in courts to block Abu-Jamal’s efforts to win a retrial where a jury could hear what that 1982 jury did not: evidence of innocence withheld by police and prosecutors.

As an example of the addional restrictions administrative custody imposes on Abu-Jamal, the acclaimed prison author/journalist now has no access to books, a radio and a typewriter – all items he utilized on death row for his writings.

A federal appeals court in 1998 stated Abu-Jamal had a First Amendment right to write while imprisoned. That ruling derailed efforts by detractors to bar Abu-Jamal’s writing.

Legal experts familiar with Abu-Jamal’s plight say some of those current Administrative Custody restrictions – particularly those blocking his ability to write – arguably violate that 1998 appeals court ruling.

Under current AC status, authorities force Abu-Jamal to wear shackles during the limited visits he’s permitted. Under administrative custody restrictions,  his visits are actually less frequent and of shorter duration than were his highly restrictive death row visitations.

Prison authorities had stopped shackling Abu-Jamal during death row visits a few years ago, following complaints from Noble Peace Prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. Tutu, during a visit to the famous inmate, refused to see him until the shackles, which Tutu declared were a gratuitous torture, were removed.

In an interesting twist, Maureen Faulkner, the slain officer’s widow, expressed her desire in December for having Abu-Jamal placed in general population where, she said, he would live among the “criminals that infest” Pennsylvania’s prisons. Faulkner has been at the forefront of past punitive efforts against Abu-Jamal, including the legal rights-robbing onslaught that led to the 1998 federal appeals court ruling.

That 1995 onslaught was retaliation for the publication of Abu-Jamal’s book Live From Death Row, and it substantially sabotaged his pivotal hearing that year appealing his conviction. The book features essays on prison life Abu-Jamal had prepared for an NPR program that detractors successfully intimidated NPR into cancelling before it could air.

This perverse Administrative Custody confinement, the latest link in the chain of injustices lashing Abu-Jamal since his 1981 arrest, is just the latest violation by the Department of Corrections of the Pennsylvania prison system’s own written regulations for placing inmates into that harsh disciplinary status.

Abu-Jamal does not meet any of the 11 specific circumstances listed in Pennsylvania Department of Corrections regulations for justifying administrative custody placement.

A model prisoner, Abu-Jamal does not constitute “a threat” to life, property, himself, staff, other inmates, the public or orderly prison operations as the policy declaration for AC placement states.

Indeed, prison staff evaluations of Abu-Jamal since his December death row removal list him as “polite [and] respectful.” Those positive evaluations hardly offer evidence of incorrigibility or other serious misbehavior which usually triggers AC placement.

Among the ever-changing rationales prison authorities advance for keeping Abu-Jamal in AC is their curious and Kafkaesque claim that they are awaiting legal clarification that the courts have formally replaced Abu-Jamal’s death sentence with life in prison.

That claim contradicts the Department of Corrections’ own documents specifically acknowledging that federal courts have vacated the death sentence (requiring a life sentence) and that the Philadelphia’s DA has dropped appeals to reinstate the death sentence and is accepting the life imprisonment.

Since DoC documents clearly reference a vacated death sentence, how can prison officials also claim they need clarification for what is objectively obvious, unless they are using that need-for-clarification explanation to cover-up continued punitive harassment?

The mammoth legal battles raging around Abu-Jamal’s conviction obscure the smaller little-known skirmishes Abu-Jamal constantly has to fight over mundane matters like the types of food he can eat, what newspapers he can read and the permissible length of his dreadlock hair style.

In 2003 Abu-Jamal and other inmates at Greene prison asked authorities for healthier diets, prompting hundreds of activists from Germany and other countries to send letters to prison authorities supporting that dietary request which arrived containing garlic cloves in the envelopes. Activists used garlic because it is widely recognized for its medicinal properties and it makes a pungent statement.

Abu-Jamal’s current AC status once again limits his ability to obtain food from the prison commissary which he needs for his vegetarian diet.

In the late 1980s Abu-Jamal mounted an unsuccessful lawsuit against prison authorities for barring his death row receipt of a newspaper published by a socialist organization.

Prison authorities barred that newspaper by speciously deeming it a “danger” to prison security, despite their allowing non-isolation-cell inmates to receive white racist hate literature and pornography.

Those racist and pornographic publications approved for general population inmates clearly threatened security by spurring interracial tensions and homosexual rapes – unlike a leftist newspaper sent to one inmate in death row isolation.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, prison authorities disciplined Abu-Jamal for refusing to cut his dreadlocks (citing religious reasons). Authorities ultimately relented, allowing him to leave his locks uncut.

Authorities now cite Abu-Jamal’s hair length as a reason for keeping him in punitive isolation, though suspiciously, they only first offered that excuse five long weeks after his December AC placement.

While Abu-Jamal’s detractors indignantly dismiss all claims of his being a political prisoner, his post-arrest ordeals provide a compelling case of a person specifically targeted by authorities for being who he is politically more than for the crime he is supposedly serving time for.

Linn Washington, Jr. is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press. He lives in Philadelphia.

Monday, January 16, 2012

“Free Mumia” – MLK

From nothing to be gained here:

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

“They don’t just want my death, they want my silence.” – Mumia Abu Jamal

In 1982 while driving a cab to supplement his income in order to support his family, Mumia Abu Jamal came across an altercation that his brother was having with police officer Daniel Faulkner. Mumia got out of his cab and tried to help his brother and in the process someone shot both police officer Daniel Faulkner and Mumia. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, the power elites in Philadelphia moved to frame Mumia for the murder of Daniel Faulkner. They first saw Mumia as a threat when he was 15 and the Minister Of Information for the Black Panther Party. Since then Mumia went on to become an award-winning journalist who often exposed the injustice of the power elites much to their chagrin. To say that Mumia’s case and trial was a travesty of justice is a gross understatement. To give just one example, the judge in Mumia’s case was heard saying ‘let’s fry this nigger’ while the case was still being tried.

Let’s be clear about something. Mumia did not do time on death row (his death sentence was recently commuted to life), and is not doing time in prison for the murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner. Mumia has done time on death row, is doing time in prison for his politics. Mumia Abu Jamal is a political prisoner.

Read the full post at

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"The Sting of Betrayal" by Mumia Abu-Jamal

from Sis Marpessa:

Mumia's locks are an issue now because the prison is trying to justify keeping him in the hole w/o him having any infractions, so they have come up with a rule for him to violate cuz they know he will never cut his locks ... a tried and true method of sick harassment suffered by many Bros./Sis. w/locks in these prisons, and this is not the first time they've done this to Mumia during his captivity.  But even before his years of torment in the belly of the prison system, his locks were an issue among those of his own people!

The following was written by Mumia in 1981 to Philly WDAS General Manager Cody Anderson, after he was fired from that radio station allegedly because he no longer fit the "image" of the station.

- Submitted by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Several years ago, in late 1978, while working to prepare a newscast on my weekend shift at WDAS news, I turned around to see two men: then-General Manager Bob Klein and you, then-assistant G.M., Cody Anderson, standing in the doorway of the newsroom. I recall clearly that both of you had warm words of praise for me, like ``I just want to say I really like the way you do news!'', and one added, ``You really sound good!''... the words were warm, and welcoming. I smiled, thanked the both of you, and prepared the next hour's newscast.

Several days ago, you, Cody, now General Manager, remarked during a phone conversation with me, ``I respect you, and your work, Mumia, but I believe you have a problem working within the established framework...'' Sound familiar, Cody? Soon thereafter you were quoted by a 'DAS news-staffer as saying, ``He's good, but he doesn't fit the image of the station . . . it's not the image we here at 'DAS want to project.'' Is that a true, honest quotation? IMAGE? ARE WE TALKING ABOUT A RADIO STATION, OR A T.V. STATION? AND WHO'S IMAGE CAN I PROJECT, BUT MY VERY OWN?

In the past 3 years, my hair has grown long, in a form some people call `dreadlocks'. Also in that time, I have worked in `white' radio, producing pieces good enough to garner a 1980 Major Armstrong Award (1st place NEWS) along with other staffers at WUHY's 91 Report. 91 Report whipped KYW for the prize, a coveted one in the broadcast industry. In that time, members of the local Association of Black Journalists elected me President of the group. Although I worked at a so-called `white' radio station, I produced shows dealing with the depth of the African experience in America, repeated prison interviews with members of the MOVE Organization (a group largely ignored by the so-called Black media in Philadelphia since their August 8th, 1978 imprisonment), concise, sensitive coverage of their murder trial, many pieces on the housing problems of both Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey, City Council, the Republic of New Afrika, the Yoruba community in the city, the visit of Rastafarian Bob Marley, Nigerian ex-President Nnamdi Azikiwe, and countless others . . . Hugh Masakela, the Pointers, etc. WHAT IS THIS IMAGE NONSENSE?

Because a man's hair grows long, does that hamper his ability to write, report, broadcast, THINK? Why are so-called `dreadlocks' so objectionable, at a so-called `BLACK' Radio station, when it was a non-issue at a white one? Was it objectionable when, for almost 10 years, Georgie Woods wore a conk, a process? Was it objectionable when jocks at 'DAS began to sport the new fad, California Curls, another process? What about a jock who gets a hair transplant, goes under a surgical knife, to `regrow' hair? Any objection to the projection of those images? I didn't think so. When a Black man stops combing his OWN hair, which grows out of his OWN head, in the form of his fathers, and PROJECTS HIS OWN IMAGE, one as African as the African seed that produced him ANOTHER `BLACK' MAN OBJECTS! (YOU KNOW, THAT'S SOME CRAZY SHIT WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT, AIN'T IT?)


I have been offered several jobs in TV, both here in Philadelphia and across the nation, both paying nearly $35-thousand a year. Was that enough money for me to shave my head, and slip into a 3-piece suit? Not even! And my family continues it's struggle to survive to make ends meet, like most of our people. THERE IS WORK TO BE DONE, CODY, AND AS THIS IS MY HOME, THERE IS WORK TO BE DONE RIGHT HERE AT HOME. IT IS JUST SUCH NONSENSE AS IMAGE THAT KEEPS US SEPARATED AND WEAK ... WHILE WE FIGHT EACH OTHER, WHILE SILLY-ASS POLITICIANS FIGHT EACH OTHER, WHILE MUSLIMS FIGHT BAPTISTS, BUDDHISTS OPPOSE MUSLIMS, DEMOCRATS FIGHT REPUBLICANS, NIGGERS FIGHT NIGGERS, BABIES ARE BEING MURDERED AND BURIED IN SHALLOW GRAVES BY THE SCORE! IS MY IMAGE, MY ESSENCE, CODY? IS THAT SHIT REALLY IMPORTANT AS WE, AFRICANS EVERYWHERE STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL? Is it important to the people who listen to WDAS, at 29th & Dauphin, Germantown & Chelten, or 11th & Kater Sts., whether I comb my hair, or not, or whether I wear a neck-chocker, or not? Aren't they concerned about the world around them NEWS NEWINFORMATION ABOUT OUR LIVES? And who can do it better, Cody? When I worked at 'DAS, I also worked at WUHY which means I worked 7 days a week, 2 days on the weekend for WDAS, and 5 days a week for WUHY. For a measly $100 dollars a week I hustled, worked, time over over-time, newscasts, and anything else ... FOR WHAT? So News Director, Charles Harmon could come up to me, and tell me he needed ``someone more flexible''? HAVE you found it yet? Out of the countless many who have come, and gone thru that newsroom, has someone more FLEXIBLE been found? Has someone more committed, more able, been FOUND? IT WAS WRONG THEN, FORHARMON TO FIRE ME, A BULLSHIT, EMPTY REASON HE KNEW, YOU KNEW, AND I STILL KNOW, IT'S STILL WRONG! But, this time, the wrong will not be borne in silence.



Mumia Abu-JamalPresident/Association of Black Journalists



The frame-up of Mumia for the murder of Daniel Faulkner was NOT the first time that this system had attempted to frame him:

From the moment Mumia joined the Black Panther Party at the age of 14, he became one of the chief targets of Hoover's notorious "Counter-Intelligence Program" (COINTELPRO). Over 700 pages of FBI files were obtained after almost three years of fighting for them, which illustrate wide-ranging collusion between the FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department--particularly its Civil Disobedience Unit (CDU) and Intelligence Division "red squads"-- extending to at least four other security agencies, including the Naval Investigative Service Office, Military Intelligence, Office of Special Investigation and the Secret Service. The files prove that years before Mumia was framed in the death of a Philadelphia cop, the feds repeatedly tried to set him up on serious felony charges--including murder-- without any basis. This was S.O.P. (standard operating procedure) in the government's COINTELPRO war on black militants. The lies range from the absurd--the photo appended to the files is not of Mumia--to the outlandishly sinister.

When the governor of Bermuda was assassinated in 1973, the feds tried to link the killing to Jamal, who had never been anywhere near Bermuda. They also falsely sought to paint him as an "urban guerrilla" associated with the Black Liberation Army, marking him to be assassinated by the cops the way BLA leader Zayd Shakur was.

The files repeatedly noted that Mumia was an effective and articulate spokesman and writer for the Black Panther newspaper, who "made the BPP look good because his approach was very positive." Indeed, not one among the steady stream of reports to FBI headquarters on Jamal's Panther activities, which were compiled at the rate of virtually one a week, indicated that he was ever engaged in anything other than public speaking and writing.

Yet despite the FBI's acknowledgement that Jamal "has not displayed a propensity for violence" and was not once found with a gun throughout this period of intense surveillance, the files regularly labeled him "Armed and Dangerous"--a license for the cops and G-men to shoot first and ask questions later.

"They believe what you write, what you say. And it's got to stop. And one day, and I hope it's in my career, that you're going to have to be held responsible and accountable for what you do." -- Frank Rizzo, then Mayor of Philadelphia, a statement which is included as part of Mumia's COINTELPRO files.

National Lawyers Guild and the Human Rights Research Fund Call For Mumia To Be Moved Out of Solitary

January 11, 2012

Mr. John Wetzel, Secretary, Department of Corrections
2520 Lisburn Road
P.O. Box 598
Camp Hill, PA 17001-0598
Fax: 717-703-2621

Dear Mr. Wetzel,

The National Lawyers Guild and the Human Rights Research Fund call on you to move Mumia Abu-Jamal from Administrative Custody (AC) in the Restrictive Housing Unit at SCI Mahanoy into general population. While we understand that capital inmates in Pennsylvania who have had sentence reductions may be transferred to and held in AC for a brief transition period, Mr. Abu-Jamal has now been in AC for four weeks.

Since Mr. Abu-Jamal's transfer on December 7, 2011, he has been held in conditions far more restrictive than at SCI Greene. He is now shackled and handcuffed whenever outside his cell, his number of weekly visits has been reduced to one (for one hour), his phone call privileges have been reduced, the number of stamps and envelopes he can use is greatly limited, and his commissary privileges have been revoked. He is also barred from having a television, typewriter or radio in his cell, and access to personal possessions such as books is also severely limited. There is no ethical or rational basis justifying Mr. Abu-Jamal's confinement in AC under conditions significantly harsher than those on death row. Once the District Attorney announced that its office would not seek a new sentencing trial, Mr. Abu-Jamal should have been transferred into general population. Such a transfer is not dependent on a judge's formal resentencing to life imprisonment. Given that, and given his exemplary disciplinary record, we can only conclude that Mr. Abu-Jamal's prolonged detainment in solitary confinement is in retaliation for his highly publicized and internationally-supported efforts to secure a new trial and intended to placate those who have been demanding his execution.

As you may know, for over a century, the United States Supreme Court has recognized the psychological harm caused by solitary confinement (In re Medley, 134 U.S. 160 (1890)). The Commission on Safety and Abuse in America in 2006 found that the increasing use of such segregation is counter-productive and frequently results in violence inside facilities while also contributing to post-release recidivism. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, recently called for a ban on solitary confinement longer than 15 days, reiterating that it can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The treatment currently afforded to Mr. Abu-Jamal violates the United States' obligations under the Convention Against Torture.

We urge you to immediately transfer and assign Mr. Abu-Jamal to general population with full visitation, phone and commissary privileges and access to all programs and services.


National Lawyers Guild
Human Rights Research Fund

Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director
Kathleen Cleaver, Co-Director

John Kerestes, Superintendent, SCI Mahanoy
Fax: 570-783-2008

Seth Williams, DA, Philadelphia
Fax: 215-686-8024

Sign the petition to transfer Mumia out of the hole into general population


Mumia is shackled and handcuffed whenever outside his cell, his number of weekly visits has been reduced to one (for one hour), his phone call privileges have been reduced, the number of stamps and envelopes he can use is greatly limited, and his commissary privileges have been revoked. He is also barred from having a television, typewriter or radio in his cell, and access to personal possessions such as books is also severely limited.

International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal, and International Action Center fully support the NLG and HRS call for transferring Mumia to general population immediately. We additionally call for the shutting down of all the torturous Restricted Housing Units (RHU's) across the US prisons!

Sign the petition at

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Mumia Still in Solitary Confinement - A Legal Update

From International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal:
Mumia is still in Administrative Custody (AC)—the hole—at SCI Mahanoy. The confinement conditions in all the Restricted Housing Units (RHU) are degrading and tortuous.

Mumia is on a cellblock that houses AC as well as disciplinary custody inmates. He is in solitary confinement, with lights glaring 24/7, without adequate food, or the opportunity to buy food to supplement his diet. He is shackled and handcuffed whenever outside his solitary cell—including when he goes to shower. And he is isolated without regular phone calls, or access to his property, including legal materials, books and typewriter. His visiting hours are limited. In short, Mumia is being subjected to conditions in AC that are more onerous than those on death row.

There is no legal basis for Mumia to be confined in AC. At the point he was no longer under a death sentence, he should have been transferred into general population. This is not dependent on a court date for Mumia to be formally resentenced to life imprisonment.

On January 3 and January 6, 2012 I submitted demand letters on Mumia’s behalf to John Wetzel, Secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC), and to John Kerestes, Superintendent SCI Mahanoy, to immediately transfer and assign Mumia to general population with full visitation, phone and commissary privileges and access to all programs and services. The stated legal grounds are the following: The degrading, dehumanizing, tortuous conditions of Mumia Abu- Jamal’s confinement in administrative custody at SCI Mahanoy are an abuse of authority, counter to DOC regulations, punitive, discriminatory, in violation of his protected liberty interests and his civil rights, including First Amendment rights.

The DOC regulations allow only two permanent categories of imprisonment, death row and general population. AC is by law only a temporary placement. It must be based on defined grounds, justified and implemented subject to procedural due process. None of the grounds listed in the DOC regulations for placement in AC apply to Mumia. In fact, on December 8, 2011 the DOC transferred Mumia from death row at SCI Greene and onto a cellblock that does not house capital inmates. On December 14, the DOC ordered Mumia moved to a medium security facility, SCI Mahanoy, which by regulation cannot hold death row prisoners.

The response by the DOC via telephone by Chief Counsel Suzanne Hueston was that Mumia is in AC pending resentencing and further evaluations. These are bogus explanations. The December 2001 federal court ruling that Mumia’s death sentence is illegal has been upheld on appeal. The District Attorney has stated there will be no trial to obtain a new death sentence. Therefore Mumia should be in general population.

Nor is there a reason or basis for “further evaluation.” Mumia has been confined in Pennsylvania prisons for some thirty years. The DOC unquestionably knows his history, conduct and behavior. There is nothing in Mumia’s personal record to justify holding him in Administrative Custody.

The DOC’s treatment of Mumia is punishment for depriving the FOP and Philadelphia District Attorney of his execution. This is the latest attempt by this frame-up system to silence Mumia, an innocent man, and to subject him to tortuous, punitive conditions in the hole.

Rachel Wolkenstein, Attorney
January 7, 2012

1) Write Call Phone and email the Secretary of Corrections

Tell them that Mumia must be immediately transferred to General Population. 

John Wetzl, Secretary Department of Corrections
2520 Lisburn Road,
P.O. Box 598
Camp Hill, PA 17001-0598
717) 975-4928 Email:

2) Write, Call, Phone and Email the Secretary of Corrections

John Kerestes, Superintendent
SCI Mahanoy
301 Morea Road
Frackville, PA 17932
(570) 773-2158
fax 570-783-2008
3) Write Call Phone and email the Philadelphia DA

Seth Williams, DA Philadelphia
Three South Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3499
(215) 686-8000
and finally if you can send Mumia a note or a card.

Write to Mumia

Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
SCI Mahanoy
301 Morea Road
Frackville, PA 17932

Saturday, January 07, 2012

New Poem For Mumia by Alice Walker

Courtesy of prisonradio

Occupying Mumia’s Cell

I Sing of Mumia
brilliant and strong
and of the captivity
few black men escape
if they are as free
as he has become.

What a teacher he is for all of us.

Nearly thirty years in solitary
and still,

He will die himself.
A black man;
whom many consider to be
a Muslim, though this is not
how he narrows down
the  criss-crossing paths of
his soul’s journey.
Perhaps it is simpler
to call him
a lover of truth
who refuses
to be silenced.
Is anything more persecuted
in this land?

No boots will be allowed
of course
so he will not
die with them on;
but there will always be
of the mind and spirit
and of the heart and soul.

His will be black and shining
(or maybe the color of rainbows)
and they will sprout wings.

they have decided
not to kill you
hoping no blood will
stain their hands
at the tribunal
of the people;
but to let you continue
to die slowly
creating and singing
your own songs
as you pace
alone,  sometimes terrorized,
for decades of long nights
in your small cage
of a cell.

We lament our impotence: that we have failed
to get you out of there.

Your regal mane may have thinned
as our locks too, those flags of  our self sovereignty, may even have
waiting out this unjust sentence,
until we, like you, have become old.
if you will: accept our gratitude
that you stand, even bootless,
on your feet.  We see
that few of those around us,
well shod and walking, even owning, the streets
are freed.

Somehow you have been.

Enough to remind us
of freedom’s devout
internal and
ineradicable seed.

What a magnificent Lion
you have been all these
disastrous years
and still are,

Copyright©2011 by Alice Walker

Monday, January 02, 2012

Sistah Q's Riveting Interview w/William Singletary, Courageous Witness for Mumia


Asante sana to Sistah Q for bringing forward this amazing Digital Underground February, 2008 interview with Bro. William Singletary, recently transitioned courageous witness for Mumia Abu-Jamal. This interview is chockfull of information as Bro. Bill leaves no stone unturned in giving up the truth on the shocking terrorism he experienced and the FOP plot to frame Mumia.

Qaraandin - also called Sistah Q - is the author of the book “Maintaining Our Temples" and publisher editor of “Maintaining Our Temples Healthzine.” Her research on the legal and economic issues behind the way the US dis-ease management system is run helps her clarify how and why food, medicine and personal care products are used as Domestic Weapons of Mass Destruction against Black folk. Sistah Q and Del Jones co-founded D & Q Communications, Inc. Since his death, she has worked to fulfill their vision of making it the top publisher of Pan-Afrikan books, magazines, and other communications materials.

The poetry/music within the interview are from none other than our esteemed ancestor, Bro. Del Jones.

William Dale Singletary, Witness of Mumia's Innocence, Dies

December 31, 2011

Introductory note:  I learned from William Singletary's wife, Jeannette, that he died this morning. Bill was a courageous man who lived fighting to make the truth known —that Mumia is innocent in the shooting death of police officer Daniel Faulkner.  For that Bill suffered severe personal and financial consequences. I've known Bill since June 1990 when he came forward with his eyewitness testimony for Mumia and as a witness at the PCRA hearing in 1995, when I was co-counsel for Mumia.

Please circulate this as widely as possible.

In the struggle for Mumia's freedom, 

Rachel Wolkenstein

William Dale Singletary, Witness of Mumia's Innocence

(February 3, 1950 – December 31, 2011)

William Dale Singletary died on December 31, 2011 at the age of sixty-one.  Being an eyewitness to the murder of Daniel Faulkner, and his unwavering insistence that Mumia was not the shooter, forever changed his life.

His wife Jeannette had a final message from Bill to Mumia and all his supporters: "I didn't know Mumia personally, but love him like a brother.  I know what he's gone through and he is innocent. I would give up everything for Mumia to be free." 

William Singletary was one of the first victims of the police vendetta against Mumia. At the Round House immediately following the December 9, 1981 shooting, homicide detectives interrogated Bill for hours and threatened him with bodily harm and the end of his business unless he either said he saw Mumia shot Daniel Faulkner or that he didn't witness the shooting at all.  He wasn't allowed to leave the Round House until he wrote what the police wanted. Bill, a Vietnam veteran, was the owner of a car repair and towing company. In the months before Mumia's trial police officers appeared at Bill's business with drawn guns, hassled his drivers and trashed his workplace. This harassment forced him to close his business and Bill was driven from Philadelphia out of fear for his life and the safety of his family.

In 1995 William Singletary testified at Mumia's PCRA hearing to his true eyewitness account. The Philadelphia's Daily News front-page story after Bill's August 11, 1995 testimony was headlined, "For Mumia … Best Comes Last. Final defense witness claims another man murdered Officer Faulkner. Witness: Mumia Innocent."

On the stand under oath, Bill described that Mumia did not shoot police officer Faulkner and arrived after Faulkner was shot. He said a tall passenger in Bill Cook's VW wearing a green army jacket shot Faulkner. Cynthia White, the prosecution's star witness, was not on the scene, but came up to Bill afterwards. He testified that numbers of police, including "white shirts" appeared within moments of the shooting. Bill also graphically described how the police viciously beat and kicked Mumia, who was shot and critically wounded, before throwing him into the police wagon.

Bill testified that detectives tore up his witness statements at the Round House.  "A Detective Green told me to write what he wanted me to write or they would take me in the elevator and beat me up." The prosecution aided the suppression of the truth that Mumia was not the shooter, and fabricated a statement from a police office that Bill was not on the scene during the shooting.

William Singletary's testimony was a key component of the evidence produced at the three PCRA hearings in 1995, 1996 and 1997 that the prosecution's case for Mumia's conviction had no basis in reality. The purported eyewitness statements, ballistics evidence and supposed confession resulted from police and prosecutorial coercion, suppression, favors and outright fabrication. "Hanging judge" Albert Sabo dismissed William Singletary's testimony as incredible.

It is a testament to the integrity and courage of William Singletary that he came forward to testify in Mumia's defense. He gave much of his life to the fight for the truth in Mumia's case—that Mumia is innocent in the shooting death of police officer Daniel Faulkner and that Mumia's arrest, conviction and death sentence resulted from a police and prosecutorial frame-up.

William Singletary was living in North Carolina when he died. He is survived by his wife Jeannette and daughter Sheadale.