Mumia Abu-Jamal conviction for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer has been contested on various constitutional, legal and moral groups. Jamal wrote on the ironies bound within the Philadelphia prison system, the consequences of those involve being it the innocence and the guilty. Also how he brought out an attack on capital punishment as a discriminatory and racist practice in the Philadelphia prison system as well as the United State Justice system.
United State has a good justice system which protects the right of all the citizens against the power of the government. I looked at this as in the case where a judge out of baize will want to sentence someone he naturally hate to death for a crime the person might not have commit. Abu-Jamal case to this was referred to as discrimination and racism. This is why prisoners on death row file claims against their penalties and if proven innocent, is relieved. With increase in crime wave, the government officials that are in charge of the prisons and those judging the criminals are required to go by the rules of the United State. This always led to the imprisonment of innocent people thus crowding the prisons. The need for funds to build new control units in the United States came up as a result of most prisons being looked upon as a dump for political criminals (Abu-Jamal 74). This is the reason for the dumping of some political criminals in the Marion Federal Penitentiary where all the minimum rules for treatment of prisoners were highly violated. The violation of basic prison rules was so serious that the state torture chamber was called skeleton bay by prisoners. A specialized jailhouse was built in Pennsylvania to serve as a punishment unit for punishing prisoners who stand trial in civil and criminal suits.
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Jamaal's writing about the rules in jail and how he got through with his case is the spring boards of many activists to have courage to talk about what wrongs that exist in jails. Jamaal writing centered on his case and how he felt with the situation he found his self in. Unfortunately for Jamaal, by the time he got to jail, most blacks were sentenced to death row, and he saw this as being a setup from the state officials. Being convicted for murder, Jamal like any other American citizen at that time could not escape death row. Jamal looked at the ratio of Black defendants being sentenced to death to that of whites, and termed the situation a discriminating one. Jamal's point of view is contradicted by a retired justice. Justice Powell said "differences don't amount to discrimination" (Abu-Jamaal 77). Powell's had doubts on the whole criminal justice system which came as a result of McCleskey's denial to be relief. I see this as being a specific case because if one criminal is denied relief which means his case is still not completed, the justice system in place is not to be questioned, looked upon as not being a good justice system. The case can be appeal to an advanced court to be followed up as desired by the law. It happens at time that the records that are given do not have enough evidence to prove the innocence of the criminal in question. Also, not every convicted person is guilty for the crime they are charge for.
When innocent people are convicted, the space in the jail is occupied, the resource used in this jails are also used on people that are not meant for. Jamaal claimed he was innocent for the crime he was convicted for, but if one should look critically, Jamaal was present at the crime scene, and took part in the activities that resulted to the killing of the Police officer. This alone could as well be a good reason for Jamal to be convicted. In the prison, what he saw and wrote about as being inhuman is as a result of the fact that the prison system which he found himself in had a method of handling prisoners just by death penalty. Prisoners are people confined in an environment where they are controlled and denied of some basic rights. Such rights involve the freedom to carry guns for personal protection. When Jamaal was convicted, at the scene of murder he had a gun with him for personal protection. In the Prison, guards try to keep the rules of the jail so that no convicted person have the right over the other even if you are innocent or guilty of the crime charged for. This is usually the reason for prisoners being beaten and maltreated as they will always call it. Some of the guards may be doing this intentionally, but most at times the prisoners refuse to follow the rules and are forced to for the protection of other inmates, staff and even for their own safety.
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Those guards that intentionally maltreat inmates are always suit for, but they always prepare reports that are backing the fact that the beating and maltreatment they gave the prisoners was as a result of self-defense and safeguarding of the other inmates and staffs. When an inmate is being locked down for offending the rules of the jail, he is always searched for deadly weapons or illegal possession of contraband. It is very difficult for inmates to win cases in court against the guards and this sets the depression state in the prisoner's life. This is why some inmates commit suicide, getting seriously sick and at times they will refuse eating for days.
The condition in the jails makes it possible for every prisoner to have three square meals a day and all prisoners have health insurance. This is interesting and makes the homeless people to prefer being convicted for minor crimes so that they can go and leave in the jails and benefit from the state provided benefits. While others benefit from the health insurance in jails which they cannot afford while out of jail, others take the jail as a place which they are confortable and meditate over their past.
Abu-Jamaal used his trial as a means to expose the Jury of the American court and the treatment that prisoners get in jails by writing books. He used his books as a means of communicating the world on what was going wrong with the criminal justice system of America especially Pennsylvania death row inmates.
Jamal uses his case to draft out how a jail setup is and what people should expect in the jails in America. When a prisoner does not follow the rules, he is put on lockdown. Prisoners on lockdown are restricted from activities like visits, recreation, and come out cuffed when need be. He also talked about the strip searches that are done in jails and how guards intentionally cause harm to prisoners and sick prisoners take up to three days to see the doctor (Abu-Jamal 45). Jamal found himself in the same situation when his daughter came to visit him in prison and he was very upset about how he is unable to kiss or huge his children no more.
The video on Abu-Jamal's conviction and how the people of the United States and the law enforcement officers reacted to his death row showed that, people frame situations for some reasons to incriminate others. This is not only done by the officers, guards, jury or Judges but also those that are called to take part as witnesses. With this, the population in the jails keeps increasing with people that are innocent being treated as criminal. Some of the innocent ones are being sentenced to death penalties even when there is not enough evidence to prove them guilty. Jamal being a victim face trial on murder which by the law if guilty of the charges should face death penalty saw that the court system did not follow the law and rules on his case but just sentenced him to death for killing a police officer. He thought that the jury was not well organized and he was just treated that way because the penalty of death was the only penalty they could get for him as a black that was at a shooting scene. The video we watched showed that the police was brutal on Jamal and those guards at the hospital reported falsely to the investigators that Jamal confessed while at the hospital. The jury did not hear from the witness that was on the scene and saw what happened.
The witnesses that are brought to court should not be trusted because some of them do take bribes to present wrong and false evidences to the court. The defense attorney testified that no witness was contacted which to me was a good reason to prove that there were no witnesses. The attorney held a meeting with judge and prosecutor without Jamal's knowledge or presence, and no mitigation witness was presented during the sentencing phase. Jamal could not act as his own attorney. When Jamal protested, he was removed from the courtroom for much of his trail, with no provisions to allow him to follow the proceedings. The use of the statements made years earlier by Jamal as a member of the Black Panther party, as an argument for imposing the death penalty. This practice was condemned by the U.S. Supreme Court in another case so could not be used as the base for Jamal being guilty.
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Jamal was lock up for 23 years with no visits which I belief was a way the government was using to stop him from communicating with the people that were concerned with his case. Jamal wrote books to let the world know that he was innocent and the treatment he suffered while in jail was to stop him from exposing the wrongs that people of the United State does against the constitution set in place. And also, Jamal ask the world to help him in fighting his case of murder which at the time was not well treated.
These writings called the concern of both national and international organizations and personnel who saw the need for a change in the approach taken against Jamal and other innocent prisoners. Twenty eight years after Jamal's arrest, for killing a Pennsylvania police officer and being sentenced to death, Jamal realized his goals by the intervention of the Supreme Court.
The lesson I learnt from this is that, not everybody that is in jail is guilty for the crimes abused of and no matter how long it takes ,it is always good to express yourself in various ways in other to get your ideas passed to others. Jamal's case helped in the structuring of the death penalty and the building of prisons with good living and staffing condition.