Pennsylvania considers bill that would silence free speech under argument of victims’ rights

(Photo credit: Walt Jabsco via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.)

Lawmakers in Pennsylvania are set to vote on a bill known as the Revictimization Relief Act that could subject anyone convicted of a personal crime to legal action if they speak publicly. Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Vereb introduced the measure after political commentator, author and FSRN contributor Mumia Abu Jamal delivered a commencement address at Vermont’s Goddard College on October 6th. Prison Radio recorded the speech over the phone and the audio was replayed to the graduating class of 23 seniors.

In 1982 a jury convicted Abu Jamal of first-degree murder for the 1981 shooting death of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. The trial drew significant criticism from legal experts due to numerous irregularities.

Abu Jamal spent 30 years on death row, including 10 after his death sentence was overturned. In 2011 he was transferred to the general population SCI Mahanoy prison, where he is currently serving a sentence of life without parole and consistently maintains his innocence.

Mumia Abu Jamal continues to advocate for prison and sentencing reform, and his audio commentaries on a wide variety of topics are heard on radio stations around the country and online, including at FSRN. Noelle Hanrahan is Director of Prison Radio and produces Mumia’s work. She joins FSRN’s Nell Abram to discuss the Pennsylvania bill.


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NA: Noelle, welcome to FSRN.  First, this bill is framed as one that’s intended to protect victims of violent crimes. What’s wrong with that?


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