Why Mumia Abu-Jamal Must Be Set Free
1 year ago
UPDATE: DEATH PENALTY SENTENCE DROPPED FOR MUMIA ABU JAMAL
UPDATE: This morning, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams announced that prosecutors are dropping the death penalty sentence against Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was incarcerated 30 years ago this week after being arrested for allegedly killing a police officer. Supporters for Abu-Jamal are now pressing for him to be completely released from prison. Here is a statement from advocates who've been working on Abu-Jamal's case, including Dr. Johanna Fernandez: "The news that the DA’s Office of Philadelphia is no longer seeking the death penalty for Mumia is no news to supporters of the nearly 30 year Pennsylvania Death Row prisoner. However, because Mumia has for thirty years been subjected to torture on death row and because he is innocent, justice for Mumia will not be served by life imprisonment, but by his release from prison."
Below is an op-ed from Dr. Fernandez that was published today (12/07/11) on why Abu-Jamal should be freed from prison completely:
The 30th anniversary of the incarceration of Múmia Abu-Jamal, America’s most celebrated death row inmate, arrives on December 9, 2011. The occasion coincides with a recent U.S Supreme Court motion that upheld the decisions of four federal judges who all declared Abu-Jamal’s death sentence unconstitutional.
This Thursday, on December 9, at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, human rights activists including Cornel West, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Michelle Alexander, and many other great activists will offer their views on the case. Hundreds of other citizens will join them to influence the public debate about the death penalty and to decry the refusal of constitutional rights to Abu-Jamal, and to demand his freedom.
In the Abu-Jamal case, the jury was misled to believe it had to unanimously agree to consider mitigating factors against a death sentence. The fact is that any one juror could have blocked a sentence of death. The presiding judge responsible for the instruction was the infamous and openly racist Albert Sabo, who was overheard by court stenographer Terri Mauer Carter saying that he “was going to help them fry the nigger.”
In light of these constitutional violations, the federal courts now mandate that Abu-Jamal be granted a new sentencing trial or have his sentence changed to life without parole. Recent discussions in Philadelphia’s mainstream media, all of which have emphasized the enormous costs of a new trial to the financially strapped city, suggest that the district attorney is likely to choose a life sentence.
A recent Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed argued against pursuing a new sentencing trial because “even Faulkner's widow wonders whether it's time to end the costly, 30-year effort to carry out the sentence given to her husband's killer.” The paper also argued that life in prison without parole for Abu-Jamal, would be in “the best interest of justice.”
The speakers at our December 9 Constitutional Hall forum, will dispute the assumption that a life sentence is appropriate by examining the long record of abuses and police corruption in the Abu-Jamal case that point to his innocence. We will insist that justice for Múmia will only be served by freedom.