Prison neglect jeopardizes life of Mumia Abu-Jamal

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Although political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal is free of his death sentence, he still suffers under life in prison without parole. And the legal system is still trying to kill his eloquent radical voice for justice and prisoners’ rights.

In 2014, when Mumia gave a recorded commencement speech for Goddard College, his alma mater, Pennsylvania lawmakers rushed through a “gag law” to silence him. In 2015, that “Revictimization Relief Act” was thrown out by a federal judge as “manifestly unconstitutional.”

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PDOC), is employing a more lethal means to achieve the same goal — withholding lifesaving medical treatment.

Since 2012, the PDOC has known that Mumia has active Hepatitis C, but kept this diagnosis from him until August 2015. He learned of his condition after being hospitalized for severe complications of diabetes, and suffering a variety of painful and untreated conditions, from skin lesions to weak and swollen legs. All these mysterious symptoms made sense upon PDOC’s disclosure that he had Hepatitis C.

But upon revealing his condition, jailers are still refusing to do monitoring tests or to provide life-saving meds.

On August 24, Mumia’s attorneys filed papers in court to gain him immediate treatment. They are pressing for the prison journalist to have access to his own physician, further medical tests, pain medications, and treatment for Hepatitis C. In response, prison officials threatened to transfer him away from supporters!

Mumia Abu-Jamal is not the only prisoner whose life is in peril. One in six inmates have Hepatitis C — 10,000 in Pennsylvania prisons alone! It causes more deaths than HIV in the U.S. Yet treatment is effective in 95 percent of cases.

The 90 days of medication is extremely expensive ($90,000) thanks to Big Pharma’s appetite for profits. Prisons are required to give inmates medical treatment, but balk at the price; this is especially true of private for-profit prisons.

Inmates in Minnesota, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have filed class action lawsuits to win treatment for Hepatitis C. Prisoners in other states will surely follow.

Solidarity is needed to help them win this battle. After speaking up for Mumia, inmate Major Tillery was put in solitary confinement. Said Mumia, “Major is in the hole … because of something prison administrators hate and fear above all things: prisoner unity, prisoner solidarity.”

Help is urgently needed in this latest effort to save Mumia’s life. Call Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf at 717-787-2500. Or visit

Also see: Nestora Salgado fasts for freedom, inspires defiance across Mexico

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