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The Campaign To Bring Mumia Home

By Johanna Fernandez

Dear Friends of Mumia,

I’m writing on behalf of the Committee to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal to ask if you might help us in an emergency. The Committee is the official fundraising venue for Mumia’s legal defense today. It has been raising funds, quietly, since Mumia was facing execution in the ‘90s.

The Committee was initiated and led by Frances Goldin, Mumia’s literary agent. She is 93 years old today and continues to be actively involved in this work. Our letters are reviewed and signed by Angela Davis. Our efforts focus exclusively on Mumia’s legal defense, and on the few occasions when we’ve deemed that raising funds for other projects was critical to Mumia’s safety, our letters have explicitly outlined our thinking.

Since Mumia fell ill, we have been behind on payments to Mumia’s lead health attorney and we need to raise funds – quickly. Would you consider making a donation and identifying one or two others who might do the same?

A Word on Mumia’s Condition
Although the symptoms of his Hep C condition wax and wane, he is much improved since his near death crisis two years ago. That moment was harrowing and having been in the center of it, I can truly tell you that the movement saved his life.

Heidi Beghosian, former executive director, National Lawyers Guild, and I had been concerned about Mumia’s declining health two years ago, and we happened to visit Mumia the morning that he collapsed in the infirmary. At that moment, we called his family, identified the hospital to which he had been taken, then drove there to make our presence known.

Since Mumia fell ill, we have been behind on payments to Mumia’s lead health attorney and we need to raise funds – quickly. Would you consider making a donation and identifying one or two others who might do the same?
We alerted the movement, and dozens joined us at the hospital that evening. The next day we held a press conference at the hospital to which surprisingly the Philadelphia mainstream media showed up. The conditions under which Mumia was hospitalized were horrendous and we visited the hospital daily.

After these dramatic days, when we realized that Mumia was in danger of dying, we went into emergency mode for several months. This included identifying outside doctors to visit him, taking out an ad in the New York Times, mobilizing the movement and testifying in court about what we saw.

We even took Mumia’s hair sample covertly to be tested at an outside laboratory. It was our doctor, not the hospital physicians, who in the end diagnosed Mumia with Hep C and made the connection that his terrible skin condition was a symptom of that disease. In this moment of crisis, Pam Africa’s experience was indispensable.

The Legal Situation and Our Request for Funds

As you know, his attorneys, primarily Bob Boyle, scored an unprecedented legal victory in Mumia’s Hep C health suit. On Jan. 7, a federal judge, Robert Mariani, in an unprecedented decision, ordered that Mumia be treated with the 95 percent effective cure rate antiviral medicines within 21 days. He condemned the barbarity of the DOC’s (Department of Corrections’) Hep C protocol, and his opinion establishes the groundwork for the treatment of the 7,000 others with Hep C in the Pennsylvania prisons.

The Pennsylvania DOC is fighting this all the way to hell. On the 10th day after the ruling, right before the Martin Luther King holiday, the DOC attorneys filed a stay and a notice of appeal in the 3rd Circuit District Court of Appeals.

Our legal filings are voluminous. Bob Boyle has been working for two years at reduced legal fees, and we are behind on payments. He has literally had to borrow money to stay afloat. We’ve also put in some personal funds, and are sending out another appeal to our members, but we need an infusion of $25,000 in the next week.

His attorneys, primarily Bob Boyle, scored an unprecedented legal victory in Mumia’s Hep C health suit. The Pennsylvania DOC is fighting this all the way to hell.
Thanking you in advance for your consideration.

All the best,

Johanna Fernandez, Ph.D.

Johanna Fernandez, Ph.D., is a professor of history at Baruch College (CUNY,) coordinator of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, member of the Committee to Save Mumia Abu Jamal, and writer and producer of the acclaimed film, “Justice on Trial: The Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.” She can be reached at jfernandez1202@gmail.com.
________________________________________________________________________

Legal Particulars
Federal Judge Robert Mariani presided over Mumia’s health suit. Judge Mariani granted Mumia his claim of deliberate indifference, meaning that Mumia won the preliminary injunction for immediate treatment. The judge ordered that a Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) doctor must see Mumia within 14 days of his Jan. 7 ruling and instructed that treatment begin seven days after that – in other words, within 21 days of the ruling.

But on the 10th day after the ruling, right before the Martin Luther King holiday, the DOC lawyers filed a challenge to the judge’s ruling. They filed “a stay,” which essentially asked the judge to halt all legal actions and proceedings. The DOC attorneys also filed a separate notice of appeal that made known their intention to appeal the decision in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the court immediately below the Supreme Court.

Here are the different scenarios that can emerge.

If Judge Mariani denies the stay and upholds his original decision, the DOC can seek a stay from the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. This would happen in advance and separately from the DOC’s full appeal in that court. If the 3rd Circuit grants the stay, the appeal process could take two to three months, even if “expedited.” If the 3rd Circuit denies the DOC’s request for a stay, Mumia basically wins because it would mean that the injunction must be carried out, meaning that MAJ gets the drugs.

If Judge Mariani grants the DOC’s request for a stay, Mumia’s attorneys can ask the 3rd Circuit to vacate (overturn) the stay; however, it would be unlikely that the 3rd Circuit would do so since they would take Judge Mariani granting the stay as an indicator that he feels his ruling would not withstand an appeal. We then would have to litigate the appeal in the 3rd Circuit Court, again a two to three month process.

Profile of the Attorneys Litigating Mumia’s Health Suit
Bret Grote is a young attorney and the founder of the Abolitionist Law Center in Pittsburgh. He was the only lawyer willing to file a preliminary injunction to get Mumia immediate treatment after he fell ill. All the attorneys with whom we consulted argued that the case was impossible to litigate and win. Shortly after Bret Grote filed the motion, the movement recruited Bob Boyle to join Bret Grote.

Bob Boyle is one of the most noted and accomplished attorneys representing political prisoners today. He is comparable to Len Weinglass in his political analysis of these cases. Bob Boyle

litigated the Lynne Stewart case, which led to her compassionate release;
litigated the case of Black Panther Dhoruba Bin Wahad and secured his freedom;
secured the release of Black Panther Marshall Eddie Conway, who spent close to 43 years in prison;
overturned in appellate court the 75-year sentence of Mohammed Al-Moayad, who was convicted of providing material support to Hamas.
How to Donate
Please mail your tax-deductible check payable to National Lawyers Guild. On the memo line, be sure to write: “For Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Defense.”

Mail your check directly to Johanna Fernandez, 158-18 Riverside Drive W., Apt. 6C-50, New York, New York 10032.

Please forward this email far and wide and let’s make the raising of $25,000 a reality.

“Prison is a second-by-second assault on the soul, a day-to-day degradation of the self, an oppressive steel and brick umbrella that transforms seconds into hours and hours into days.”
-Mumia Abu-Jamal

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Bloody Violence among Prisonerz Resultz in Security Lockdown at the Eastham-Administrative-Segregation Unit, Texas — Update

Just read…

By Keith ‘Malik’ Washington Deputy Chairman, New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter) Peace and blessings Sisters and Brothers! This cover of Newsweek for Oct. 6, 1986, features a story, “I…

Source: Bloody Violence among Prisonerz Resultz in Security Lockdown at the Eastham-Administrative-Segregation Unit, Texas — Update

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Congressional Letter Supporting Trump Attack On Democracy In South AMERICA

Newly elected Congressman Adriano Espaillat, the first Dominican-American member of Congress, has usually shown a sense of morality and sanity on issues in his political life. He was formerly a member of the NY State Assembly and NY State Senate and seems to be a good choice to fill in for the retired Charles Rangel in representing the people of Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood and a small portion of the Bronx.

However, there is one choice he recently made that is causing concern among his constituents as well as among people who don’t limit their compassion to randomly decided borders. He added his name to a Congressional letter that provides “legitimacy” to the psychopathic, control-obsessed Trump administration to step up Washington’s attack on the democratically-elected Venezuelan government.

While the masses see the heavy-handed warmongering of this dictatorial regime in oil producing nations in the Middle East, few people are paying attention to their attacks on democracy in this hemisphere.

The following is an e-mail from the MumiaNYC website requesting help in demanding Congressman Espaillat to remove his name from this letter. While this e-mail is aimed specifically at the people of Congressman Espaillat’s district and calls for attending an action today (February 10, 2017) in NYC, the end of the e-mail provides the names of the other members of Congress who have signed the letter. We all need to do our part to help in the struggle against tyranny and imperialism:

FROM: William Camacaro, leading Venezuelan activist in NYC.

Subject: Urgent! Protest Congressman Adriano Espaillat’s attack on Venezuela.

In his first high profile action as recently elected congressman, Representative Adriano Espaillat has aligned himself with some of the most reactionary and interventionist individuals in the US Congress in attacking Venezuela.

Does this really represent the interests and needs of his constituents or of the cause peace and justice?

The congressional letter (Feb. 8, 2017), co-signed by Congressman Adriano Espaillat, provides political cover for the Trump administration to step up Washington’s attack on the Venezuelan government at a time when the Vatican, UNASUR, and the UN are supporting the path of dialogue and peace to address the political conflict and economic crisis in this South American nation. The letter, using fake news to defame Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami, calls on President Trump to exacerbate an already devastating economic war against Venezuela by invoking regulations “to ensure that U.S. companies do not inadvertently engage in business directly with any corrupt regime entity in Venezuela . . . .”

The action asked for in this letter, combined with Obama’s Executive Order against Venezuela, renewed on March 4, 2016, would seriously damage an already ailing economy. If Espaillat really cared about “the well-being of the Venezuelan people” and the “stability of Venezuela” he would not be consorting with the enemies of the Bolivarian revolution but support the efforts of the Maduro administration to improve public security, go after corruption, increase domestic agricultural production and fortify a growing alternative food distribution network.

Does Congressman Espaillat not realize that some New Yorkers have benefited from fuel subsidies provided by the late President Chavez and now the much-maligned President Maduro?

Is he not concerned with seeing his name associated with Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz Balart, the most conservative wing of the Republican Party that together with the White House have been attacking our communities?

Does he not realize that the current US intervention in Venezuela follows a long history of similar intervention in Latin America, such as in Chile, Guatemala, and his own native land, the Dominican Republic, where US troops landed in 1965 to overthrow a progressive government and replace it with “its man”?

Venezuela has never gone to war with another country since its independence; has extended an olive branch to the Obama and now the Trump administration; has no military bases outside its borders; has declared the region a zone of peace; and has been a major broker in the Colombia peace accords that helped bring the longest running war in the hemisphere to an end.

We urge our friends and allies to express prompt and collective strong opposition to our newly elected congressman Adriano Espaillat’s endorsement of a letter that urges the White House to impose additional sanctions against Venezuela . Join us today at the New York office of Congressman Espaillat.

WHEN: Friday, February 10, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. EST

WHERE: Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building
163 West 125th Street, 3rd Floor
just east of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard (Seventh Avenue)
New York, NY 10027

Bring your colorful signs saying “No Sanctions against Venezuela”

We demand that Congressman Espaillat remove his name from the letter calling for US intervention in Venezuela.

More information: cbalbertolovera@gmail.com

Call Congressman Espaillat to demand that he remove his name from the letter calling for US intervention in Venezuela

Harlem Office: (212) 663-3900
Washington, DC Office: (202) 225 4365

Letter from 34 members of the United States Congress requesting sanctions against Venezuela to the White House. Here is the letter:

https://ros-lehtinen.house.gov/sites/ros-lehtinen.house.gov/files/02.08.2017%20Ros-Lehtinen%20and%20Menendez%20Letter%20to%20the%20White%20House.pdf

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Gov. Cuomo To Reduce Visitation For NYS Inmates & Families

I received a disturbing e-mail from the MumiaNYC website stating the intention of Governor Cuomo of New York to reduce the days that NY State would allow prisoners in maximum security prisons to receive visits from friends and family. This is a brutal and heartless way to treat human beings.

Even if a person is so perfect as to be cooly judgemental of those who have committed crimes, can they feel the same about the families, and particularly the children, of these people? Don’t these innocent people deserve the opportunity to spend time with their family members who have already been denied their basic freedom and civil rights?

Especially now, in this time of greedy and selfish obsession with personal desires and ignorant hatred of those who are “different”, we need to get back in touch with compassion. We’re slowly (maybe not so slowly) devolving further into an uncivilized society of possession-obsessed gluttons who can’t seem to differentiate between needs and desires. (One need not look any further than the abomination of the 2016 election to see how far into an abyss of insanity we’ve fallen).

Additionally, we have become infatuated with forcing those with the courage to be themselves to conform to our narrow-minded vision of what is acceptable and to punish those who refuse this mental slavery. This mentality is most obvious in how we deal with those who are incarcerated. We don’t need to empty our jail cells to show a modicum of compassion as a society, but we do need to refuse to be as savage as we think our criminals are.

Brutal punishment has rarely proven to be effective in encouraging people to see the error of their ways. It’s more likely to increase anger and lead to further dysfunctional behavior. We should not expect our prisoners to acccept a life of unusual punishment and believe it will not affect our youth (or our psyche as a nation). It’s delusional, as well as immoral.

If we accept this type of behavior by those who are expected to lead us, to where will we allow them to lead us? 

                            ————————————————————

Governor Cuomo has just proposed to limit visiting at New York State
maximum security prisons to 3 days a week instead of the current 7.

If passed, this measure will be awful for thousands of max prisoners.

PLEASE email or write to Governor Cuomo opposing the cutback in
visiting hours at NYS max prisons.

https://www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
New York State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

The Governor talks a good line about compassion and reducing mass
incarceration, but this proposal will seriously escalate suffering and
family disruption. Under the current 7-day system, weekend visitors
(many are women with young children) often wait 2-3 hours to see their
loved ones. With reduced days, the wait will be longer, the visitor
rooms more crowded, the visiting days and hours even more
limited. This will be terrible for everyone and impossible for many.

More information about this initiative is attached, along with what
you can do to help stop it. But if you can only do one thing, PLEASE
EMAIL OR WRITE THE GOVERNOR TODAY!

Thank you from David Gilbert!

and from me,

Naomi

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Blood In The Water

There are points in a person’s life at which it seems impossible to continue pushing forward. When the hard work and honesty you thought would eventually pay off just doesn’t seem to be enough to make the struggle worthwhile. It can happen to societies as well. These are times that make it appear as if humanity has lost itself in hate and fear and there is no way to reverse the damage done by hateful manipulation, fearful obedience and moral cowardice. The United States is at such a point right now.

A disgustingly hateful predator has been elected to the highest office in the land. He didn’t win in the sense we traditionally think of when we think of winning – as in the concept of “fair play” where the contestants observe rules designed to allow for equitable participation of all involved. Elections in the U.S. have become selections. They are selections by the priesthood of the state religion who have the power to destroy anyone who disobeys. They select a few corporate-owned puppets of the dominant culture and we are “allowed” to choose one to lead the executive branch of a government that is called democratic but has actually become a corporation owned by wealthy executives.

That this system has been so successfully foisted upon a seemingly unsuspecting population is something of a miracle (validation of the corporate priesthood?) The current state of politics is worthy of extensive study by sociologists.

Of course, we all know that the will of the people has been ignored for many years. People complain about it every so often, but when their “team” wins – whether by clever deception or an outright purchase of elections – it doesn’t seem to matter anymore. The “losing” team cries while attacking the “winning” side in the media and waits for their turn because in a two-party system they will always get their turn to be on the “winning” side.

The obscenely myopic mindset this betrays would seem to be too embarrassing to continue, but somehow people get so caught up in the game (like angry adolescent children bent on hurting whoever gets in the way of their winning) they lose all sense of what matters in life. Pathetic behavior infecting the electoral process has created a government so dysfunctional it would be humorous if it wasn’t so sick. And sick is an appropriate term to use because it allows for sickness of the soul, mind and body to set in. And, perversely, this perpetuates the entire mess. It’s perpetual madness and won’t end until people step back, observe with a fresh perspective and admit what’s going on.

The corporate indoctrination can only work if we refuse to pay attention and address what is actually wrong. We allow predators to break the system, then point at it and scream that it doesn’t work. And we listen to them explain that it needs to eliminated because life is about survival of the fittest. Never mind that the disabled, young and elderly can’t pull their own weight. And the majority carry the weight of the rulers who then blame their economic obesity on “others.”

We only have to look around and see millions of children without proper nutrition, millions living in the streets, hundreds of thousands dying from preventable deaths every year in hospitals, a healthcare system that has become sickness care, hedge fund managers each collecting more wealth than entire schools of teachers, legal poisoning of air, water and soil…

And then we elect a “leader” who preaches hate and intolerance while promising to continue destruction of the planet and hold greed and anger as more important than helping others?

Donald Trump will do what’s best for Donald Trump. Occasionally it will help others, but that is incidental. He will allow some good things to happen, but that will merely serve as public relations. He has an ego the size of the planet and the temperament of an angry boy filled with hate who has figured out how to hurt others. He will do what he wants because he has always done what he wants. He has no moral guidelines and I believe that will ultimately lead to his downfall. We will see.

As for the rest of us, instead of giving in like we always have (following the path of least resistance), we need to be strong and creative to survive his control-obsessed regime. We have to accept, for the time being, that he is president. That doesn’t mean to accept his disastrous agenda of planet-wide raping and pillaging. It doesn’t mean widening the huge divisions in the population that he managed to use as a tool to “winning” the election.

We need to show those who were fooled into electing him how dangerously suicidal that was. It will be difficult because the mouthpieces of the fear industry have their own agenda and it doesn’t align with what’s best for the rest of the planet. Maybe if we show them that taking inspired action instead of reacting to hate and fear can lead to solutions that will benefit everyone, we will make incremental steps toward lessening the divisions. This could start us on a path toward taking our government back from the tight-fisted control of corporate manipulators and stop the suicide we’ve learned to embrace as inevitable.

When there is blood in the water, sharks will attack. And starting today, the sharks lurking in the swamp are bigger, badder and more treacherous.

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Oscar Lopez Rivera’s Sentence Is Commuted!

This is long overdue for a peaceful warrior who served the people of the United States as well as the people of Puerto Rico. This man would not leave a fellow warrior behind – whether in Vietnam (where he was awarded a Bronze Star) or a U.S. prison.

From the MumiaNYC Website:

Barack Obama commutes sentence of Oscar Lopez Rivera
The political prisoner spent 35 years in North American prisons

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 – 5:23 PM

By José A. Delgado

Washington – US President Barack Obama announced this afternoon that he has commuted the sentence of Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, effective May 17, 2017.

The order for the release of the last Cold War veteran of the Cold War in American jails was given this afternoon, along with 208 other commutations of sentences announced by the White House.

Prisoner 87651-024 – who has been imprisoned in Terre Haute (Indiana) prison for the past several years and has served 35 years in prison – would be released in four months.

“I am very happy and overwhelmed with emotion,” said Democratic Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (Illinois), for whom López Rivera and his brother José are friends and mentors.

“There were times when hope was hard to find, but my wife Soraida always had faith that this day would come. Now it is clear that Oscar will reunite with his family and be able to walk freely among Puerto Ricans,” said Gutiérrez.

The Terre Haute jail is about three and a half hours from Chicago, where López Rivera was arrested 35 years and seven months ago.

“I am hopeful that I will be able to get out of jail and that as long as I remain in this world dedicate it to work and fight to help solve the biggest problem we face,” said López Rivera on January 6, when he turned 74 years old.

López Rivera was convicted of seditious conspiracy for his ties to the clandestine Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN) group, which claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks in the United States and caused six deaths.

López Rivera was arrested on May 29, 1981 in the suburb of Glennview, a suburb of Chicago, not stopping at an intersection. He held a pistol. Until then he had been in hiding for five years.

López Rivera always denied having blood on his hands and was never convicted of hurting anyone. “If federal agencies had a fingerprint of me associating with anything in which there were dead [people], I would be sentenced to life imprisonment,” he maintained in the most recent interview with El Nuevo Dia on December 1.

In interviews with El Nuevo Día, López Rivera has indicated that as soon as he leaves prison he would first go to see his family in Chicago, where he arrived when he was 14 years old. But then he will go live to his hometown of San Sebastian, in Puerto Rico. “I’m Pepino … I want to enjoy Puerto Rico, my family. But I like to work. I have some skills – organizing, helping young people – that I want to share with people,” he said.

His 45-year-old daughter, Clarisa, who met him in prison shortly after his arrest, will pick him up in Terre Haute next May with her uncle Jose López Rivera, director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Chicago, and his lawyer Jan Susler. The three have led the struggle for the release of the prisoner of independence.

Jose López Rivera said last week that his brother’s plan was still to go to Chicago for a couple of days to visit family and friends, before traveling to Puerto Rico.

“…There is a lot of love between us,” López Rivera said in a telephone interview in June 2013, which along with others he made that month, were the first to let him talk to El Nuevo Día in 2006.

Since then he has had frequent contact with the media, although the Bureau of Prisons has always refused to allow an interview in person.

López Rivera also received clemency – conditional upon serving another 10 years in prison – in August 1999, when President Bill Clinton pardoned a dozen prisoners from the Los Macheteros and FALN clandestine groups.

Then, López Rivera – a veteran of the Vietnam War – rejected the offer, mainly because the pardons did not include two of his companions – Carlos Alberto Torres and Haydee Beltran.

“Never in Vietnam or in the street did I leave anyone behind. It was difficult for me to know that I could leave first. Also in 10 additional years of jail I did not commit any infraction, and in prison one never knows what the jailer may want to do,” he said in 2013.

In 2011, with both released, he then asked for clemency to President Obama.

“If he is willing to listen, he can see that I can still be productive. No one can say that I am an evil person,” said López Rivera in the most recent interview with El Nuevo Día, noting that once the 2016 presidential election [was past], his chances of being released increased.

The prisoner of independence has lamented the estrangement of his family and the repression suffered by his loved ones.

“My two brothers were called before the Grand Jury. They both refused. My younger brother served 13 [months] in prison for refusing to testify. My older brother was fired from his job. My brothers knew absolutely nothing of what I was doing. I never involved them in anything. One of the ugliest practices was that the agents were going to visit my mother. They went into the house when she was away. When she returned, they were waiting for her, telling her that if they did not deliver me, they would kill me. In those five years (in hiding), I never saw a relative of mine. When my mother told me that, it was painful for me,” Lopez Rivera said recently.

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Court Rules Mumia Abu-Jamal Be Given Hepatitis C Cure!

Something amazing happened in Pennylvania. A court actually ruled in favor of human beings over the interests of the Prison Industrial Complex, an industry that has gotten an insidious foothold in our government. This is an industry that has been allowed not only to get away with torture, they have made obscene profits doing so. It is refreshing and gives one hope that humankind may not be doomed to a disgraceful, suicidal end in the near future.

I received this from the MumiaNYC website today:

A Peoples’ Victory: Court Rules To Give Mumia Abu-Jamal Hep C Cure

By Joseph Piette posted on January 6, 2017, Workers World

Federal District Court Judge Robert Mariani has ordered the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) to treat political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal within 21 days with direct-acting antiviral medications for his hepatitis C infection.

The unprecedented decision was announced Jan. 3 after a two-year-long campaign by community, health care and prison activists to force the state to treat Abu-Jamal and up to 7,000 other prisoners infected with the deadly virus. Even as supporters celebrated the legal victory, they began preparing a movement to see that the order is enforced.

“This is the first case in the country in which a federal court has ordered prison officials to provide an incarcerated patient with the new [hep C] medications that came on the market in 2013,” attorney Robert Boyle said in an Abolitionist Law Center (ALC) media release Jan. 3.

The Abu-Jamal vs. Kerestes court decision stems from three days of evidentiary hearings in Scranton, Pa., in December 2015. Bret Grote of the Pittsburgh ALC and New York City attorney Robert J. Boyle represented Abu-Jamal before a courtroom packed with supporters from Philadelphia; New York; Pittsburgh; Washington, D.C. and North Carolina.

On Aug. 31, 2016, Mariani ruled it was unconstitutional for the DOC to refuse to give hep C-infected prisoners medicines boasting a 95 percent cure rate. However, Judge Mariani refused to order the state to treat Mumia because of a technicality: the DOC’s Hepatitis C Committee members were not specifically named in the lawsuit. Bret Grote refiled the lawsuit naming the individual members of the committee on Sept. 30.

In response, Judge Mariani ruled Jan. 3, 2017, that the Pennsylvania DOC has an obligation under the U.S. Constitution to provide adequate medical care to the men and women incarcerated in its jails. In his 44-page decision, Mariani found the DOC was “deliberately indifferent to his (Abu-Jamal’s) serious medical need.” (Abu-Jamal v. Wetzel et al., 3:16-cv-02000-RDM)

Mariani’s decision and separate order requiring treatment compels the DOC to have Abu-Jamal “be seen by a Supervising Physician within 14 days” and that the DOC shall begin the 90-day treatment of direct-acting antiviral medication “no later than 7 days after the Supervising Physician’s determination that there are no contraindications for the administration of DM medications to Plaintiff.”

Health Care A Right Regardless The Cost

Under the law, the DOC can appeal that order or they can choose not to appeal and to administer the drugs immediately. Activists immediately launched a new campaign to pressure the DOC to let the decision stand and comply with the ruling.

Pam Africa of the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal hit the airwaves at 6:30 a.m. on Jan. 4 on Thera Miling’s WURD 900 am radio show with news of the groundbreaking decision. Attorney Boyle, Pennsylvania state Rep. Vanessa Lowry Brown and Campaign to Bring Mumia Home spokesperson Johanna Fernandez all called in.

Rep. Brown emphasized to listeners that the high price of drugs affects everyone, especially seniors, and prisoners as well. “You have people who are dying because they can’t afford the medication. It’s what we have here in prisons too because the DOC doesn’t want to pay $90,000 to treat them.” (tinyurl.com/haxklq9)

In a Prison Radio interview on the same day, Abu-Jamal criticized the medical industry for its high prices, saying, “It’s not medicine. It’s business. It’s profits. It’s not caring for the health of the people that you swore to care for.” (tinyurl.com/jhysnb4)

If the DOC does appeal, it’s expected they will focus on the high price of sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) or sofosbuvir-velpatasvir (Harvoni), the new drugs that cure hep C. The DOC claims treating all 7,000 prisoners would cost the prison system $600 million.

However, a study presented at The Liver Meeting, Nov. 11-15, 2016, in Boston put the actual cost of producing sofosbuvir at only $62, including a 50 percent profit, yet the current U.S. price is 1,355 times higher. (tinyurl.com/zl97eu4) At this more realistic and justifiable price it would cost Pennsylvania only $434,000 to treat every infected prisoner.

If state officials are truly opposed to the outrageous pricing, it could take Gilead Sciences, the biopharmaceutical corporation that provides the hep C drugs, to court. It could bar the company from doing business in the state because of its immoral conduct. It could arrest Gilead executives for criminal price gouging. It should do all these things, but it cannot refuse to treat prisoners because of the drug’s price.

Mariani’s ruling specifically states: “While the court is sensitive to the realities of the budgetary constraints and the difficult decisions prison officials must make, the economics of providing this medication cannot outweigh the Eighth Amendment’s constitutional guarantee of adequate medical care.” (p 44, Abu-Jamal v. Wetzel et al., 3:16-cv-02000-RDM)

DOC appeal would further delay treatment

Boyle pointed out during the WURD interview that the progression of hep C in Mumia’s body will not pause as appeals are fought in the courts. Anyone with the disease has “a significantly higher risk of liver cancer. Once you have liver cancer these antivirals, which are a great drug, are useless. You have liver cancer.”

Abu-Jamal in Mahanoy Prison, Major Tillery in Frackville Prison and thousands of other prisoners infected with the deadly disease would continue to suffer and inescapably die from lengthy delays as an appeal advances in the court system.

Abu-Jamal spent 29 years on death row after a widely criticized trial which Amnesty International characterized as “in violation of international law and standards governing the imposition of capital punishment.” (tinyurl.com/zfdpbc9)

Mass public pressure led him to being taken off death row in 2012, but he is still serving a life sentence without possibility of parole for killing a white police officer, a crime that he did not commit. The struggle to free him continues, along with the immediate fight for his life.

In 2015, Abu-Jamal was hospitalized after he fell into diabetic shock and was found to have hepatitis C. He continues to suffer from severe itching, diarrhea, scaly skin and difficulty sleeping despite medication and doctor-prescribed baths.

Mariani’s decision is expected to set a precedent for other prisoners in Pennsylvania and other states. Less than 1 percent of U.S. prisoners are currently being treated for hep C, according to a Health Affairs article entitled “New Hepatitis C Drugs Are Very Costly and Unavailable to Many State Prisoners.” (tinyurl.com/gte27bc)

Organizers are asking supporters to call, email or tweet Secretary John Wetzel, head of the Pennsylvania DOC, at 717-728-2573; 717-728-4109;

ra-crpadocsecretary@pa.gov or @johnewetzel. Demand that he order that Mumia and other infected PA prisoners be given the proven medication for hep C and that the DOC not prolong the suffering of those who have hepatitis C by appealing Judge Mariani’s decision.