Pa.’s Mumia Abu Jamal-inspired ‘revictimization’ law is ‘manifestly unconstitutional,’ U.S. judge rules

From: Pennlive, April 28th, 2015

Calling it “manifestly unconstitutional,” a federal judge on Tuesday overturned a new state law that proponents said was designed to prevent criminals from “revictimizing” those harmed by their wrongdoing.

In ruling against the Revictimization Relief Act, U.S. Middle District Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner found that the law, enacted last year, is too broad, too vague and blatantly violates the free speech protections of the U.S. Constitution.

Backers of the law already are mustering for an appeal of Conner’s ruling, however.

The act was in large part a reaction to last year’s decision by Goddard College in Vermont to invite Mumia Abu Jamal, who was convicted of the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer, to speak at its commencement.

As adopted by the Legislature, the law was aimed at barring those convicted of, and in some cases accused of, crimes from speaking or acting in ways that would re-traumatize their victims. The measure granted crime victims or prosecutors acting on their behalf the right to seek injunctive relief in court to “stop any conduct by an offender or former inmate that perpetuates a crime’s effects on the victim.”

Plaintiffs ranging from Jamal to the Pennsylvania Prison Society, Prison Legal News, various media organizations and current and former prisoners challenged the law’s legality during a hearing before Conner in Harrisburg last month.

Read the rest here.

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