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Could Mumia Abu-Jamal, one of the 20th century’s most high profile political prisoners, a powerful and renowned author and a former Black Panther, have hope of being released after 34 years in prison, 30 of those years on death row? Could Mumia, unlike the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti or the Communists Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed by the state, finally see the light of day after decades in prison like former Black Panthers Geronimo Pratt, the Angola 3 and Eddie Conway?
Berrien County Judge Sterling Schrock sentenced the leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization, Rev. Edward Pinkney, to 30-120 months in prison based on an all-white jury’s verdict of guilty on five felony counts of forgery. The charges stemmed from a successful recall petition drive against Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower, who is perceived as a tool of the Whirlpool Corp. and the political power structure in the area.
Pennsylvania legislators are trying to stop prisoners from speaking about their ideas and experiences. Pennsylvania Rep. 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.