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.  

[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