In December, when prosecutors announced that they would drop their pursuit of the death penalty for former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, Christina Swarns, one of his attorneys, told The Root that his team would be working to get him physically off of death row.
"He's under 23 and one lockdown, meaning he spends 23 hours a day in his cell, by himself," she explained. "The next step is to get him out of extreme solitary-confinement conditions so for the first time in 23 years he can hug his family. His contact with his wife, his children, with us [his legal team], has been from behind glass."
This week, that finally happened, and Abu-Jamal has begun his life term, having been moved into the general prison population for the first time since his arrest for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer and resulting highly controversial death sentence three decades ago.
BET News reports:
Announced by Susan McNaughton, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Abu-Jamal was moved Friday from a restricted housing unit where he had largely been in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day.
"This is a very important moment for him, his family, and all of his supporters. We are all grateful for the roles played by so many in getting him off death row after so very long," said Judith L. Ritter, a law professor and director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at Widener University, who represented Abu-Jamal in recent appeals, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
In 1982, Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death for the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner the precious year. In early 2011, a federal appeals court ruled that the original trial judge’s instructions to the jury had been unfairly weighted toward execution. The decision was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in October.
Read more at BET News.