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by Johanna Fernandez
I visited Mumia on Sunday, Sept. 6. As you know, after a series of hospitalizations in March and April 2015, Mumia has remained in the prison infirmary. During this time, most of his property has remained in his old cell.
According to Mumia, on Friday, Sept. 4, officers rushed him out of his regularly-scheduled medical bath to inform him that all the belongings in his cell had been packed up and placed in storage. The handling of prisoner property in the absence of a prisoner is a violation of prison procedures.
After signing the forms required when prisoner property is placed in storage, Mumia asked if he was about to be moved to a different facility, since the boxing up of a prisoner’s property usually precedes a transfer. An officer assured him that he would not be transferred, but this all seemed really strange to Mumia.
These developments follow the immediate aftermath of a medical lawsuit filed by Mumia charging the DOC with medical neglect. Coming at this moment, a prison transfer would not be in Mumia’s best interest as it would disrupt contact with his attorneys and isolate him from his family and supporters.
In addition, a move would put Mumia’s health at risk; it would further compromise his physical and mental health and interrupt his medical care. The only transfer acceptable would be safe transit to a professional facility that would guarantee the medical attention he needs for a cure of his “active” Hepatitis C condition, for which there is a cure.
As you know, Mumia has been in an acute health crisis for over nine months, since January 2015. In March 2015, prison infirmary physicians allowed Mumia to fall into diabetic shock and come close to death.
Coming at this moment, a prison transfer would not be in Mumia’s best interest as it would disrupt contact with his attorneys and isolate him from his family and supporters.
Please urge the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) to act in Mumia’s best interests and refrain from transferring him. Please also urge the DOC to give Mumia – and the 10,000 Pennsylvania prisoners with Hepatitis C – the cure he needs.
Recently, Mumia has lost approximately 25 pounds in two months. Although his spirits are high and his cognitive abilities have improved, he still sleeps all day and is suffering extreme lethargy, a bi-product of untreated, active Hepatitis C, a liver disease.
The skin around his face is clearer than before and although his leg wounds have closed, they have left crater-like scars, which can erupt at any moment. The skin throughout his body remains jet-black, raw, extremely wrinkled and rough, like elephant hide.
Nails on his hands and feet are falling off and the palms of his hands are blackened. These conditions are also symptoms of his untreated, active Hepatitis C.
The denial of the Hepatitis C cure to Mumia – while his medical condition remains precarious and while his disfiguring skin condition continues to cause him unthinkable suffering – is cruel and unusual punishment. It is torture through medical neglect.
Demand the Hepatitis C cure for Mumia and for the 10,000 Pennsylvania prisoners with the disease, NOW!
Mumia faces retaliatory transfer
On Sept. 5, prison staff boxed up all Mumia’s personal effects from his cell while he was in the prison infirmary trying to recover from the prison’s medical malfeasance and neglect that nearly killed him. A retaliatory transfer to some other prison would be a new blow against Mumia’s health, and would steep him and his family in greater fear and uncertainty.
Why do we sense retaliation? Because Mumia’s attorneys have filed a lawsuit charging the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections with medical neglect, i.e. with failure to diagnose his disease in a timely way and with continuing to deny him adequate treatment of his debilitating and life-threatening Hepatitis C condition.
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections was set to respond to the lawsuit this Thursday in court. A transfer to another prison, without giving him fully professional healthcare, would be retaliatory.
Why do we sense retaliation? Because Mumia’s attorneys have filed a lawsuit charging the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections with medical neglect.
Indeed, it would be an attack on Mumia, another way for his enemies to see him dead. We must stop any retaliatory transfer.
No transfer of Mumia should take place that does not take him to a quality medical center for cure of his very serious, but treatable Hepatitis C condition. Keep up the fight for Mumia’s life!
CALL the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and Mumia’s prison – Pennsylvania Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel at 717-728-2573 and Mahanoy Prison Superintendent John Kerestes at 570-773-2158. Here’s the message:
1) Stop any retaliatory transfer!
2) Treat to cure Mumia’s Hepatitis C now!
Johanna Fernandez is a professor of history at Baruch College (CUNY,) coordinator of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home and writer and producer of the acclaimed film, “Justice on Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.” She can be reached at email@example.com.
Resolution to save the life of Mumia Abu-Jamal from medical neglect
The National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981, passed the following resolution unanimously by acclamation at its Delegate Assembly on Aug. 9. We urge other unions, human rights organizations, religious and activist groups to pass similar resolutions and publicize these actions. Long live Mumia and all our political prisoners!
Whereas Mumia Abu-Jamal, an African-American journalist and former member of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, who was president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, was sentenced to the death penalty in 1982 for allegedly killing a white policeman. The judgment was based on fraudulent court proceedings, including an incompetent lawyer who neglected evidence showing Abu-Jamal’s innocence, a nearly all-white jury (which studies show often produces the same result as an all-white jury with a Black defendant), self-serving witnesses and a biased judge, which show that Abu-Jamal is an innocent man who should never have been in jail in the first place and who is a political prisoner in Pennsylvania;
Whereas the National Writers Union passed a resolution inviting the world-renowned Black author to accept an honorary membership in 1995. The resolution was passed when Abu-Jamal had received a date of execution;
Whereas the NWU has continued to support Abu-Jamal ever since, especially in 2011 when his death sentence was overturned and he was moved to general population;
Whereas the NWU became aware that Abu-Jamal suffered a medical emergency in March 2015 when he was on the verge of slipping into a diabetic coma and was suffering from a severe, debilitating, painful skin disease, which went undiagnosed and untreated for months by the State Correctional Institution of Mahanoy;
Whereas the NWU, like others who similarly support Abu-Jamal, believes that the Pennsylvania prison system is negligent and has not used reasonable care, reflecting “medical neglect” and violating his human and civil rights. The NWU supports all efforts in the ongoing struggle to secure specialists, a diagnosis and a treatment regimen needed to restore Abu-Jamal to full health;
Whereas the Pennsylvania prison system must be required to use all due diligence and every option deemed appropriate in the treatment of and timely diagnosis of Abu-Jamal in order to avoid further medical neglect that might lead to his death;
Therefore, be it resolved, that the National Writers Union will write letters to (1) SCI Mahanoy, (2) the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and (3) Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf demanding that these authorities comply with the highest standards of health care recommended by the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and the Department of Justice and stop the medical neglect that threatens the life of Abu-Jamal. The National Writers Union calls for Abu-Jamal’s release to the care of doctors and medical facilities of his choice so that he can get the treatment he is entitled to;
Be it further resolved that, given the extensive evidence of Abu-Jamal’s innocence, wrongful incarceration, extreme undiagnosed illness after five months and the prison medical system’s failure to diagnose or treat him properly, we add our voices to the international call for the immediate release of Mumia Abu-Jamal;
Be it further resolved that the National Writers Union will set up a Mumia Abu-Jamal Watch Committee to monitor his health situation and suggest further support actions that may become necessary, which will be authorized by a vote of the delegates.
Susan E. Davis, New York Chapter
Yusef Salaam, New York Chapter
Jeanne Cosmos, Boston Chapter
Irving Jones, Philadelphia Chapter
Kenneth Heard, Philadelphia Chapter
Marivir Montebon, New York Chapter
Barbara Mende, Boston Chapter
Marilyn Grunwald, Southern California Chapter
Mike McCallister, At Large Chapter
Karen Ford, Chicago Chapter
Scott Urbanowski, Southeast Michigan Chapter
Fernando Gapasin, Oregon Chapter
Labarre Blackman, At Large Chapter
Keith Bagwell, Tucson Chapter
Sandra L. Campbell, At Large Chapter
For more information, contact Susan E. Davis at 212-989-6756 or firstname.lastname@example.org.