Call now to demand freedom & medical care for Mumia


From the Enewsletter of Prison Radio:

Dear friend, 

April 29, 2015

On Monday morning Mumia Abu-Jamal was ordered back to the infirmary at SCI Mahanoy in Pennsylvania. All that day his attorney Bret Grote was at the prison.  No visitors were allowed, he and Pam Africa could not see Mumia.  There has been no contact with Mumia since Sunday, by his family, doctors, lawyers or supporters and there is grave concern that his condition, untreated and mistreated by prison infirmary doctors, could result in his death.

All Out to the Capital

The Dept. of Corrections has turned down Mumia’s petition to be given a accurate diagnosis of his condition(s) and his need to be seen by appropriate medical specialists.  His doctor has been prevented from talking to treatment staff and visiting Mumia.   

On Wednesday, April 29th we will be holding a press conference at Gov. Tom Wolf’s office in Harrisburg, PA at the Capitol Rotunda at 11am. 

At this point we do not know what is happening with Mumia. Keep your eyes on Mumia! Demand family visitation, and legal access.  We must speak out for our brother Mumia, just as he has always spoken out for us. 

Call now to demand freedom & medical care for Mumia:


Often when we call in, prison and state officials have taken their lines off the hook. Know that every single action matters, even when they don’t pick up. If they don’t answer, please leave a voicemail:

John Wetzel, PA Secretary of Corrections: (717) 728-4109
Governor Tom Wolf: (717) 787-2500
SCI Mahanoy: (570) 773-2158, then dial zero
for a more complete list of addresses and faxes etc visit www.prison Radio.org

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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.

Pennsylvania legislators are trying to stop prisoners from speaking about their ideas and experience

This comes from Decarcerate PA‘s website. It sounds like an illegal move to silence people’s voices. What about the victims of police violence? Will they not be ‘victimised’ by their attackers’ presence everywhere, incl. the police and former police who have written this proposed law? Vermont College is not even in PA, so is Mumia Abu-Jamal, also not allowed to speak in other states, countries? This law is just an act of vengeance.  

Pennsylvania Legislators threaten to silence people in prison. TAKE ACTION today
On Oct 14th: call your legislators!

[Here is another article about this anti-human rights attack of politicians in Pennsylvania]

Pennsylvania legislators are trying to stop prisoners from speaking about their ideas and experiences. Last week, PA Representative Mike Vereb introduced a bill (HB2533) called the “Revictimization Relief Act,” which would allow victims, District Attorneys, and the Attorney General to sue people who have been convicted of “personal injury” crimes for speaking out publicly if it causes the victim of the crime “mental anguish.”

The bill was written in response to political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal’s commencement speech at Goddard College, and is a clear attempt to silence Mumia and other prisoners and formerly incarcerated people. We believe that this legislation is not actually an attempt to help victims, but a cynical move by legislators to stop people in prison from speaking out against an unjust system.

While to us this seems like a clear violation of the first amendment, unfortunately the PA General Assembly doesn’t appear to agree, and they have fast-tracked the bill for approval and amended another bill (SB508) to include the same language. The legislation could be voted on as early as Wednesday.

If this bill passes, it will be a huge blow to the movement against mass incarceration. People inside prisons play a leading role in these struggles, and their perspectives, analysis, and strategies are essential to our work. Incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people who write books, contribute to newspapers, or even write for our Voices from the Inside section would run the risk of legal consequences just for sharing their ideas.

That’s why we are asking you to take action TUESDAY OCTOBER 14 by calling Pennsylvania lawmakers to tell them that prisoners should not be denied the right to speak.

Please call your legislators and demand that they vote NO on HB2533 and SB508. You can look up contact information at http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/.

We are also asking folks to call the following Senate leaders and ask them to stop the bill from moving forward:

Senate Majority Whip Pat Browne  (717) 787-1349
Senate Minority Whip Anthony Williams  (717) 787-5970
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi  (717) 787-4712
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (717) 787-7683

– See more at: http://decarceratepa.info/freespeech#sthash.OJAHxMbA.dpuf

Pennsylvania legislators are trying to stop prisoners from speaking about their ideas and experience

This comes from Decarcerate PA‘s website. It sounds like an illegal move to silence people’s voices. What about the victims of police violence? Will they not be ‘victimised’ by their attackers’ presence everywhere, incl. the police and former police who have written this proposed law? Vermont College is not even in PA, so is Mumia Abu-Jamal, also not allowed to speak in other states, countries? This law is just an act of vengeance.  

[Here is another article about this anti-human rights attack of politicians in Pennsylvania]

Pennsylvania Legislators threaten to silence people in prison. TAKE ACTION today
On Oct 14th: call your legislators!

Pennsylvania legislators are trying to stop prisoners from speaking about their ideas and experiences. Last week, PA Representative Mike Vereb introduced a bill (HB2533) called the “Revictimization Relief Act,” which would allow victims, District Attorneys, and the Attorney General to sue people who have been convicted of “personal injury” crimes for speaking out publicly if it causes the victim of the crime “mental anguish.”

The bill was written in response to political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal’s commencement speech at Goddard College, and is a clear attempt to silence Mumia and other prisoners and formerly incarcerated people. We believe that this legislation is not actually an attempt to help victims, but a cynical move by legislators to stop people in prison from speaking out against an unjust system.

While to us this seems like a clear violation of the first amendment, unfortunately the PA General Assembly doesn’t appear to agree, and they have fast-tracked the bill for approval and amended another bill (SB508) to include the same language. The legislation could be voted on as early as Wednesday.

If this bill passes, it will be a huge blow to the movement against mass incarceration. People inside prisons play a leading role in these struggles, and their perspectives, analysis, and strategies are essential to our work. Incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people who write books, contribute to newspapers, or even write for our Voices from the Inside section would run the risk of legal consequences just for sharing their ideas.

That’s why we are asking you to take action TUESDAY OCTOBER 14 by calling Pennsylvania lawmakers to tell them that prisoners should not be denied the right to speak.

Please call your legislators and demand that they vote NO on HB2533 and SB508. You can look up contact information at http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/.

We are also asking folks to call the following Senate leaders and ask them to stop the bill from moving forward:

Senate Majority Whip Pat Browne  (717) 787-1349
Senate Minority Whip Anthony Williams  (717) 787-5970
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi  (717) 787-4712
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (717) 787-7683

– See more at: http://decarceratepa.info/freespeech#sthash.OJAHxMbA.dpuf

Long Distance Revolutionary: New Documentary Movie about Mumia Abu-Jamal starts showing in theatres from Feb. 1st

This Documentary about the life of Mumia Abu-Jamal including the voices of renowned actors and activists in interviews, is being screened from february 1st in theatres in New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Alberta (Canada) and other places.  The director is Stephen Vittoria.

Check out if the movie Long Distance Revolutionary is playing in your area, and check out the website. Chris Hedges interviewed Mumia himself. Here is the trailer on Youtube:

Statement on Solitary Confinement by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Sept. 14th Statement on Solitary
[Speech writ. 95/12] © ’12 Mumia Abu-Jamal
Brothers and Sisters! Mis Hermanos y Hermanas! Comrades!
Thank you all for coming together here.
You may think that you know something about solitary, but you don’t. You may have a loved one in prison who has experienced it, and told you about it.
But still I say, you don’t know it.
You know the word; but between word and the reality, a world exists.
You don’t know that world.
But the closest we may come is to say it must be like life on another planet. One where the air is different; where the water is different, where wildlife and flora and fauna mean different things.
For, as you know the word torture, you don’t know how it feels.
For solitary is torture.
State torture.
Official torture. Government sanctioned torture.
Some may call that hyperbole, or exaggeration.
But I’ve lived in solitary longer than many – most, perhaps –Americans have been alive.
I’ve seen men driven mad as a hatter by soul crushing loneliness. Who have sliced their arms until they looked like railroad tracks. Or burned themselves alive.
This isn’t something I’ve read about in psychology books, or newspaper reports.
I’ve seen it with these eyes with which I write these words. I’ve smelled the blood. I’ve smelled the nauseating stench of the smoke.
Why? Because human beings are social creatures; and solitary confinement kills that which is human within us.
Why did these men do these things (to themselves)?
We can’t really know, but if I could guess I’d say they simply wanted to feel. To feel something. To feel as if they were alive.
I’ve seen men beaten while handcuffed; shocked with Tasers and electrified shields; and gassed with pepper spray – really a form of liquid cayenne pepper, which inflames the eyes, nasal passages and mouth.
As America embarks on its second century of mass incarceration, breaking every repressive record ever made, it’s also breaking every record in regards to solitary confinement: locking up, isolating and torturing more and more people, for more and more years.
As I’ve noted elsewhere (in my Live from Death Row (1995), for example) In 1890 the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case re Medley, held that solitary confinement for a man on Colorado’s death row was unconstitutional. In a sense, over a century later, the law has lurched backwards!
Today, such an idea would be laughable, if not unthinkable.
According to some estimates, there are over 100,000 people in solitary across the country (I happen to believe this is a conservative estimate). But no matter the number, the reality is stark: under international law – solitary confinement is torture.
Period.
And if it happens to one man, one woman -one child – it is torture nonetheless, and a crime under international law -or, put another way, the law of nations.
That’s because such a policy has one primary purpose; to destroy human beings, by destroying their minds.
Is it cruel and unusual, and thus violative of the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?
Apparently this was so in the 1890’s, but not so in the present, probably because of who was in prison then – and who are now.
It may surprise you to know that at the end of the nineteenth century, Blacks were a distinct minority of American prisoners, and while numbers certainly swelled post-slavery (to build the prison-contract-labor industry—really slavery by another name), the biggest bounce in Black imprisonment came in the aftermath of the Civil Rights and Black Liberation movements, when Black people, en masse, opposed the system of white supremacy, police brutality and racist juries.
And then – The Empire strikes back!
Indeed, never in the history of the modern world have we seen such a vast machinery of repression, and the U.S. is the world’s undisputed leader in imprisonment of its citizens.
Neither China, Russia nor any other nation comes close.
As scholar/law professor Michelle Alexander had aptly described it, the U.S. has reconstituted the ‘New Jim Crow’.
And as prison populations explode, the law becomes increasingly more supportive of this repression, and less tolerant of the notion of equal rights, or even equal access to courts.
These factors have continued to be problems irrespective of whether under Republican or Democratic administrations.
For, repression is apparently bipartisan.
But all is not gloom and doom.
People have the power to transform their grim realities.
All they have to do is fight for it.
Organize.
When people get together –and fight together – they create change.
They make change.
If you want to shut down solitary confinement, you can do it.
You’ve got to organize – and fight for it.
If you find the prison industrial complex intolerable, then organize – and fight it.
This is not Pollyannaish, or pie in the sky.
This is as gritty and as down to earth as spinach.
It’s as real a dirt. As real as steel. As real as blood. As real as life.
Whenever any social advance has happened it’s because people fought for it. Often, against their own governments, for governments ever embrace the status quo.
During the U.S. Civil War, one of Lincoln’s severest critics was Frederick Douglass, the fiery Black ex-slave and abolitionist.
When Lincoln died a few years later, Douglass would both mourn his passing and laud his accomplishments.
It was Douglass who said: “Power concedes nothing without demand. It never has, and never will.”
That lesson of our Ancestor is still true.
We must demand what we want – and fight for it!
Period.
If we want the closing of solitary confinement, we can make it happen.
If we want people like Delbert Africa, Mike Africa, Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoatz, Janet Africa, Phil Africa, Janine Africa, Chuck Africa, Leonard Peltier, Jalil Muntaqim, Ed Africa, or [Dr.] Mutulu Shakur freed, we can make it happen.
Really. Truly. But we gotta fight for it.
Movements make change.
So let us build such a Movement, that it shakes the earth!
Don’t rely on voting, for politics is but the cruel art of betrayal.
Rely on working together and fighting for change.
For “Power concedes nothing without demand!”
Build the Movement!
Let us go forth and make the change we want, for we are the hope of more people than we know—and People make change!
Ona Move!
Long Live John Africa!
“Power Concedes Nothing Without Demand!”
Down With Solitary!
Shut Attica Down!
Down with the Prison Industrial Complex!
–©’12 maj
    ————————————————————–
Discurso del 14 de setiembre sobre incomunicados
Mumía Abú-Jamal
5/9/2012
¡Hermanos y hermanas! ¡Mis queridos carnales! ¡Camaradas de lucha!
Muchas gracias a todos por venir a esta reunión.
Ustedes quizás crean que saben algo sobre estar presos incomunicados, pero en verdad, no saben. Quizás han amado a alguien que ha vivido en carne propia esa experiencia, y les ha contado algo sobreéso.
Sin embargo, yo todavía digo, Ustedes no saben nada de éso.
Saben la palabra; pero entre la palabra y la realidad, existe un mundo.
Y Ustedes no conocen ese mundo.
Lo más cercano que podríamos decir es que es como vivir en otro planeta. Un planeta en el que el aire is diferente; donde el agua es diferente; un planeta en el que la vida salvaje, la flora y la fauna significan cosas totalmente diferentes.
Porque, así como saben la palabra tortura, no saben como se sufre la tortura.
Porque estar preso incomunicado es tortura.
Tortura a manos del estado.
Tortura oficial. Tortura sancionada por el gobierno.
Algunos podrían decir que éso es una hipérbole, o una exageración.
Pero yo he vivido preso incomunicado por más largo tiempo que muchos norteamericanos que han sobrevivido –quizás más largo tiempo que todos los que han sobrevivido.
He visto a hombres volverse más locos que cabras acorraladas debido a la soledad que les destrozó el alma. Hombres que se cortaban los brazos hasta que parecían como rieles de ferrocarriles. Ú hombres que ellos mismos se quemaban vivos.
Éso no es algo que he leído en libros de psicología, o en reportajes periodísticos.
Yo lo he visto con estos ojos con los que escribo estas palabras. Yo he olido la sangre. He olido el hedor nauseabundo del humo.
Porqué? Porque los seres humanos somos criaturas sociales, y estar preso incomunicado mata éso que está dentro de nosotros que nos have humanos.
¿Porqué esos hombres se hacen éso (a ellos mismos)?
En verdad no podemos saberlo, pero si yo pudiera imaginar, diría que ellos simplemente lo hacen para sentir. Para sentir algo. Para sentir como si todavía estuvieran vivos.
He visto a hombres con las manos esposadas ser brutalmente golpeados; golpeados con Tasers y con mantas eléctricas; y asfixiados con disparos de ají –en verdad una forma de ají-pimienta líquido, que irrita malamente los ojos, los conductos nasales y la boca.
Mientras Estados Unidos se embarca en su segundo siglo de encarcelamientos en masa, quebrando todos los records represivos que jamás han existido, Estados Unidos también está quebrando todos los records en lo que respecta a tener prisioneros incomunicados: encarcelando, aislando y torturando más y más gente, por más y muchos más años.
Como ya lo he dicho (en mi libro, En Vivo Desde el Corredor de la Muerte, (Live from Death Row,1995), por ejemplo, en 1890, la Corte Suprema de Estados Unidos, en el Caso Medley, sostuvo que tener incomunicado a un prisionero sentenciado a muerte en Colorado iba contra la Constitución. En cierto sentido, más de un siglo después, ¡la ley ha retrocedido a saltos!
Hoy en día, esa idea sería irrisoria, si no difícil de pensar.
Según unos estimados, hoy hay más de 100,000 personas prisioneras incomunicadas a lo largo y ancho de Estados Unidos (a mí me parece que es un estimado conservador). Pero no importa el número, la realidad es clara: bajo la ley internacional –tener incomunicados a prisioneros es lo mismo que torturarlos.
Punto.
Y si éso le pasa a un hombre, a una mujer –¡a un niño o niña!– éso es por cierto tortura; y torturar es un crimen bajo la ley internacional –en otras palabras, bajo la ley de las naciones.
Éso es porque tal política tiene un fin principal: destruír a seres humanos, destruyéndoles la mente.
¿Es éso cruel e inusitado, y en consecuencia viola la Octava Enmienda a la Constitución de Estados Unidos?
Aparentemente éso era así en los años de los 1890s, pero ya no lo es hoy, probablemente porque, ¿quiénes eran los prisioneros en esos días, y quiénes son los prisioneros hoy?
Quizás les sorprenda saber que a finales del siglo XIX los Negros eran claramente minoría entre los prisioneros norteamericanos, y aún cuando sus números ciertamente crecieron al terminar la esclavitud, (para crear la industria de contratos para trabajos en prisiones –en verdad, esclavitud con otro nombre), el más grande aumento en encarcelamiento de Negros ocurrió después del Movimiento de los Derechos Civiles y del Movimiento de la Liberación de los Negros, cuando el pueblo Negro, en masa, se opuso al sistema de la supremacía de los Blancos, a la brutalidad de la policía y a los jurados racistas.
Pero entonces –¡el Imperio contra atacó!
Es verdad. Jamás en la historia del mundo moderno hemos visto tan vasta maquinaria de represión, y Estados Unidos es el líder indiscutido del mundo en encarcelar a sus propios ciudadanos.
Ni China, ni Rusia; ni ninguna otra nación en el mundo se aproxima a Estados Unidos.
Como la investigadora y profesora de leyes, la Doctora Michelle Alexander lo ha escrito muy bién, Estados Unidos ha re-construído, “El Nuevo Jim Crow”.
Y mientras la población de las prisiones explosiona, la ley es cada vez más escrita en apoyo de esa represión, y es menos tolerante de la noción de igualdad de derechos, o aún de igual acceso a las cortes.
Estos factores han continuado siendo problemas sin importar si la administración es Republicana o Demócrata.
Porque, aparentemente la represión es algo natural a cada partido político.
Pero no todo es tristeza y mal agüero.
El pueblo tiene el poder de transformar sus peores realidades.
Lo único que el pueblo tiene que hacer es pelear; y transformar la realidad.
Organizarce.
Cuando el pueblo se junta –y juntos pelean– el pueblo crea el cambio.
El pueblo hace el cambio.
Si tú quieres que no hayan prisioneros incomunicados, tú lo puedes hacer.
Tienes que organizar –y pelear hasta terminar con éso de prisiones para incomunicados.
Si crees que el complejo industrial de prisiones es intolerable, entonces, organiza –y lucha contra él.
Éso no es juego de niños, ni tampoco maná que cae del cielo.
Éso es tan real y tan práctico como la espinaca.
Es tan real como la tierra. Tan real como el acero. Tan real como la sangre. Tan real como la vida.
Siempre que ocurrió un avance social fue porque el pueblo luchó por él. Casi siempre contra sus propios gobiernos, porque los gobiernos siempre abrazan el status quo.
Durante la Guerra Civil de Estados Unidos, uno de los críticos más severos del Presidente Abraham Lincoln fue Frederick Douglass, el apasionado ex-esclavo y abolicionista Negro.
Cuando, pocos años después, Lincoln fue asesinado, Douglass lamentó su muerte y elogió sus conquistas.
Fue Douglass quien dijo: “¡El poder no da nada sin que se lo demanden. Nunca lo ha hecho, y jamás lo hara!”
Esa lección de nuestro Antepasado todavía es verdad.
Tenemos que demandar lo que queremos –¡y luchar hasta conseguirlo!
Punto.
Si queremos cerrar las celdas de incomunicados, nosotros podemos hacerlo.
Si queremos que gente como Delbert África, Mike África, Russell “Maroon” Shoatz, Janet África, Phil África, Janine África, Chuck África, Leonard Peltier, Jalil Muntaqim, Ed África, o el Doctor Mutulu Shakur ganen su libertad, nosotros podemos conseguir liberarlos.
De veras. Es verdad. Pero tenemos que luchar hasta conseguirlo.
Los movimientos hacen los cambios.
Entonces construyamos un Movimiento. ¡Un Movimiento que sacuda al mundo!
No confiemos en elecciones, porque la política en Estados Unidos no es otra cosa más que el cruel arte de la traición.
Confiemos en trabajar juntos y en luchar juntos por el cambio.
Porque, “¡El poder no da nada sin que se lo demanden!”
¡Construyamos el Movimiento!
Sigamos adelante y hagamos el cambio que queremos, porque somos la esperanza de más gente de la que nos imaginamos –¡y es el Pueblo el que hace el cambio!
¡Ona Move!
¡Que Viva John África!
“¡El poder no da nada sin que se lo demanden!”
¡Abajo con las celdas de incomunicados!
¡Cerremos la cárcel de Ática!
¡Abajo con el Complejo Industrial de Prisiones!
–©’12 maj
Traducción libre del inglés enviado por Fatirah Aziz, Litestar01@aol.com,
hecha en REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas.

Two tributes to John ‘J-Rock’ Carter, murdered by Pennsylvania prison guards

From: SF Bay View, Sept 10, 2012

One by Mumia Abu-Jamal, the other by J-Rock’s friend and comrade, S. Muhammad Hyland
The real John Carter

by Mumia Abu-Jamal

John “J-Rock” Carter

Several months ago, a movie was released: a science-fiction flick featuring a superhuman fighting nasty aliens on a forbidding planet somewhere in the cosmos.

As a sci-fi fan I confess interest, but I never heard of the title character, John Carter. (I later learned that the story was based on the lesser-known works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, known for the “Tarzan” books.)

In fact, as the movie was seeking an audience, another John Carter was facing a deadly force of prison guards, armed with weapons of mayhem. Carter was locked in a prison cell as it was being pumped full of pepper spray.

This John Carter had spent over half his life in Pennsylvania prison cells following a robbery-murder conviction after he was certified by the courts as an adult despite his juvenile age.

Irony over irony abounds, for this John Carter seems to have predicted his own demise in a letter he wrote to members of the U.S. Congress seeking passage of a bill outlawing juvenile life terms.

In his June 2009 letter, John Carter wrote the following:

“Now years go by as I struggle to evolve and mature within a cell I now view as my casket. Some days I’m hopeless … some days I’m focused. But every day I realize that after 14 years I am no longer growing …. I am deteriorating … emotionally … physically, psychologically, and spiritually. Instead of living, I simply exist until my heart stops beating, my lungs stop breathing, and my soul is called into the next life. I ask myself on occasion – is this the form of damnation other human beings wish upon troubled youth? Are we in a society that believes in a forgiving God, but the same society will turn around and be UNFORGIVING to a child’s trespass?”

Photo: SCI Rockview is an old prison, built in 1912. This 1940 view was printed as a postcard.

Witnesses from the hole at Rockview Prison say John Carter barricaded himself in his cell, and armored guards attacked the cell, pumping at least three canisters of pepper spray into the windowless, enclosed area – not only burning his eyes, mouth and nose, but depriving him of any usable oxygen.

When the door was breached, guards rushed in using electrified stun shields to subdue him, repeatedly.

Those in view said the 35-year-old man was carried out, his knees and head dragging on the ground.

His friends called him “J-Rock.”

But his name was John Carter on state records recording his death on April 26, 2012.
“Instead of living, I simply exist until my heart stops beating, my lungs stop breathing, and my soul is called into the next life. I ask myself on occasion – is this the form of damnation other human beings wish upon troubled youth? Are we in a society that believes in a forgiving God, but the same society will turn around and be UNFORGIVING to a child’s trespass?”

The real John Carter was a juvenile lifer who was sentenced at 16 years old under a law that the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled was unconstitutional in Alabama v. Miller.

Irony of Ironies. J-Rock never lived to see it.

Source: “In Memory of John Carter,” The Movement (official newsletter of the Human Rights Coalition, Philadelphia) Summer 2012: #151, p.47

© Copyright 2012 Mumia Abu-Jamal. Read Mumia’s latest book, “The Classroom and the Cell: Conversations on Black Life in America,” co-authored by Columbia University professor Marc Lamont Hill, available from Third World Press, TWPBooks.com. Keep updated at http://www.freemumia.com. For Mumia’s commentaries, visit http://www.prisonradio.org. For recent interviews with Mumia, visit http://www.blockreportradio.com. Encourage the media to publish and broadcast Mumia’s commentaries and interviews. Send our brotha some love and light: Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, SCI-Mahanoy, 301 Morea Road, Frackville, PA 17932.

Remembering the contributions of a dedicated soldier

by S. Muhammad Hyland

SCI Rockview, known as Pennsylvania’s “Big House,” was the first prison in the state to use the electric chair. This is the main building.

“Now years go by as I struggle to evolve and mature within a cell I now view as my casket. Some days I’m hopeless … some days I’m focused. But every day I realize that after 14 years I am no longer growing … I am deteriorating – emotionally, physically, psychologically and spiritually. Instead of living, I simply exist, until my heart stops beating, my lungs stop breathing, and my soul is called to the next life.”

Those words were part of a letter written by my friend and comrade John “J-Rock” Carter. He sent that letter to members of the United States Congress in 2009, attempting to appeal to their humanity, by asking them to support H.R. 2289, a bill that would grant relief to juveniles sentenced to serve life sentences without the possibility of parole. At the time, he was only 29 years old, already entering his 14th year behind the walls of a state penitentiary. At the age of 16, he was sentenced to serve a life term without the possibility of parole.

And the racist, fascist, pig prison patrol at SCI Rockview made sure that he completed that sentence.

“Now years go by as I struggle to evolve and mature within a cell I now view as my casket. Some days I’m hopeless … some days I’m focused. But every day I realize that after 14 years I am no longer growing … I am deteriorating – emotionally, physically, psychologically and spiritually.”

My sincere condolences go out to the family and friends of J-Rock, who was the latest victim of fascist Amerika’s unchecked brutality against prisoners – specifically minority prisoners – all across Amerika.

Prisoners are sent to “the hole” – solitary confinement – like this unit in a Pennsylvania prison most often, they say, for protesting prison conditions, especially if they’re Black or Brown.

During a cell extraction, J-Rock was murdered by racist pigs for allegedly refusing to cuff up and exit his cell. A number of reports reveal that he did agree to be handcuffed, but the pigs – looking for some “action” – refused to follow protocol and opted for the more inhumane extraction. The Vietnam-raid, SWAT-style techniques to extract a “piece of shit murderer” from his cell proved to be too appealing to a bunch of bloodthirsty racists.

For the record, John Carter was a victim. He was sentenced to serve life without parole for participating in a robbery where an innocent man was killed. He always took responsibility for his actions. Still, his case put on full display two – of many – components of Amerikan society that have been neglected over and over.

First, Amerika’s readiness to send juvenile offenders away to rot inside of modernized dungeons for the rest of their lives, without the possibility of parole, or any chance to redeem themselves for a mistake they made at a time in their lives when every doctor on earth agrees that their brains weren’t developed enough to appreciate the consequences of their actions.

Secondly, as the Prison Industrial Complex has become big business, the incentive to rehabilitate has long been abandoned, replaced by longer sentences, harsher conditions and tough guy overseer pigs, whose job it is to intimidate, harass, brutalize and terrorize prisoners who openly take issue with this abuse and act against it. J-Rock was one of those people!
Prisoners in SCI Rockview who are not in solitary confinement work in the Big House Products factory manufacturing products used throughout the state. – Photo: Dave Bonta
The Amerikan public is ignorant to the goings-on behind prison walls, and that ignorance has plenty of purpose. If the public had knowledge of the injustices taking place inside of these Amerikan torture camps, they would work to destroy this $70 billion per year industry.

The problem is that they don’t know. They don’t know that prisoners are commodities – exactly as slaves were. They don’t know that educational and vocational programming has been eliminated, replaced with service-style jobs in maintenance and plumbing, paying prisoners 19 cents per hour – a ploy to keep prison operational costs low.

They don’t know that if you refuse to be a slave, you’re automatically labeled as a “trouble maker” and targeted throughout your incarceration – ultimately landing in the Restricted Housing Unit, or “hole,” just like J-Rock was. And the “hole” has one purpose and one purpose only: to break the minds, bodies and souls of the women, children and men placed in them! The hope is that a rebellious prisoner can be forced into submission and compliance through the terrorist tactics that are sanctioned all throughout DOC policy.

Some fight back, and live to tell about it.

Others end up like my comrade J-Rock.
A guard patrols one of the tiers at SCI Rockview. – Photo: Daily Collegian
It’s much more common than people think. My little brother, Walter Rushing, was a victim of SCI Rockview’s “no tolerance” policy when he was “found” dead in his cell in the “hole.” Of “natural causes.” At age 24. He, like J-Rock, was unwilling to accept Rockview’s brutality.

This system within prison reflects a violent societal norm – less subtle, much more intense – and willingly kept out of view of the only people who possess the power and ability to change it. It reflects capitalism’s need to ride the backs of the under-represented in order to keep the “fat cats” on Wall Street in a position of power.

Without these tentacles of intimidation, the “fat cats” wouldn’t exist. And until we confront this power, everybody will continue to suffer – the incarcerated and the “free” – but especially the youth. And since the media is part of the conspiracy to keep the public out of the loop, think about this:

Up until a short while ago – until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to serve a sentence of life without the possibility of parole – the only other nation on this planet to sentence juveniles to serve life was Somalia.

It’s time for the public to be educated about the realities of prison and the criminal injustice system. This education will save tons of money and, more importantly, lives.
S. Muhammad Hyland
J-Rock fought for justice. He put himself on the front line of the struggle against inhumanity – and paid for it with his life. But his contribution will never be overlooked, ignored or down-played.

Many people deserve credit for the Supreme Court’s ruling. He is one of them. I just wish that he was still alive so he could one day enjoy the fruits of his labor, along with his family.
It’s time for the public to be educated about the realities of prison and the criminal injustice system.

The struggle to abolish prisons will continue. The court’s ruling was just the first step. But myself and my comrades – in and out of prison – will continue to move forward in the spirit and memory of a truly dedicated soldier and humanitarian.

Rest in peace, John J-Rock Carter, March 5, 1979-April 26, 2012.

Send our brother some love and light: S. Muhammad Hyland, FX1537, SCI Greene, 175 Progress Drive, Waynesburg, PA 15370. Read more at www.facebook.com/rebelnotes.