ムミア・アブ・ジャマルは、獄中でラジオ放送の録音を行い、またその放送原稿をもとにした著作「Live from Death Row」を1995年に出版しています。ペンシルバニア州矯正当局は、こうした行為が、囚人が就業したりビジネスを行うことを禁止した矯正規則に違反するとして、ムミアを懲罰処分とし、外部交通権の大幅な制限（家族に電話をかけることができないなど）や、房内で足枷をはめるなどの罰則を課していました。また、ムミアと弁護団の間の書簡をかってに開封し、しかもその内容を知事に漏らしていたとされています。こうしたことが起こったのは95年５月末から９月までの、ムミアの死刑が執行されそうになった時期であり、また再審請求のための聴聞会が連続して開かれ、ムミアに有利な証拠が新たに提出されていた非常に緊迫した時期のことでした。
INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL
Press Contact Numbers: 215-476-8812 and 203-847-6721 - Pam Africa
Fax:215-476-7551 and 203-846-1937 - Susan Burnett
A THREE JUDGE FEDERAL APPEALS PANEL UNANIMOUSLY RULES THAT MUMIA ABU JAMAL'S RIGHTS AS A PRISON JOURNALIST WERE VIOLATED.
On August 25th, 1998 a three judge federal appeals panel for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously found that the Department of Corrections had twice violated the rights of Mumia Abu Jamal when they punished him for alleged violating prison regulations by publishing materials and recording commentaries for broadcast; and then opened his privileged mail from his attorneys, claiming it to be a necessary pan of their investigation.
In a 16 page opinion written by Circuit Judge Nygaard the Court first carefully reviewed Mumia's history as a successful journalist in prison, specifically noting that "approximately forty publications carried articles under Jamal's byline" and that he was even commended by prison authorities for publishing an article in the Yale Law Journal. But that was before he gained public notoriety as a potential commentator on National Public Radio. That public notoriety, the court found, led to an alleged investigation by the Department of Corrections only after "public complaints concerning Jamal 's proposed NPR commentaries were made by the Fraternal Order of the Police."
The Court reasoned that while the Department has the authority to regulate prisoner conduct it may not do so if, ' ..motivated, at least in part, by the content of his articles and mounting public pressure to do something about them." Shredding all the reasons advanced by the Department to justify it's actions the Court bluntly concluded that although Jamal had been writing since 1989, - with the knowledge of the authorities - "...the Department did not claim to be burdened by his actions until the Fraternal Order of the Police outcry in l994.' That claim, and the resulting investigation, violate Mr. Jamal's First Amendment rights as a writer. The case was remanded and the District Court was ordered to grant Jamal's preliminary injunction.
In a related issue the Court also found that the opening of Jamal's attorney's mail also violated his rights. Specifically noting that not only did the Department wrongfully open privileged letters from his counsel they inexplicably forwarded copies to the Office of the General Counsel - "the office charged with advising the Governor of Pennsylvania on among other things, signing death warrants." Three letters were even found to have been forwarded directly to the Governor's office. In an unusually caustic aside not ordinarily found in federal court opinions, Judge Nygaard reviewed the argument advanced by the Department for such actions and concluded, "This argument is nonsensical." The District Court was also ordered to enjoin further openings of attorney client mail.
Lastly, the Court found that at this stage of the proceedings it did not have sufficient evidence to conclude that Jamal would prevail in his third claim relative to permitting paralegals to visit him and upheld the lower court's decision not to enjoin the Departments refusal to allow such visits- Leonard Weinglass, Jamal's lead counsel, is available for interviews and further comment on the Court's decision. He maybe reached at 212-807-8646.