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Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the USAJailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the USA by Mumia Abu-Jamal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mumia Abu-Jamal has been incarcerated since I have been born. That is in itself a powerful statement. This man has not been “outside” all my life.

I have been active in prisoner’s rights programs in Japan for the last 8 years, and have learned a lot from my peers inside. I have learned that the prison system in Japan is no different from where Mumia and other political prisoners are being held in, and in some cases, worse. I have the highest respect for jailhouse lawyers who go out of their way to protect those inside, even if such actions may lead to themselves be persecuted by the system.

Safiya Bukhari, one of the founders of the Jericho prisoner’s rights movement was an avid supporter of Mumia until she moved on to the next world. Safiya and Mumia have taught me many things, but one thing is for sure: Political prisoners only exist in foreign states. The United States, China, Japan, any state has political prisoners, and yet none will consider its own a political prisoner. Before the US or Japan can talk to China about it imprisoning people based on religion/political values, the US and Japan need to recollect on their own incarcerated population, and release all prisoners that have been imprisoned for solely political reasons.

Recently a criminal defendant was acquitted by the Tokyo High Court, and released. Immediately the victim’s relatives and lawyer cried foul. There are too many cases in Japan and elsewhere where people are automatically considered guilty just because they were arrested and said to be guilty by the criminal investigation.

Personally, I do not care if Mumia killed the officer in question, or not. That is not the case right now. The issue is that he has been getting selective inhumane treatment by the correctional authorities, and has not been allowed a fair trial as such enumerated in the US Constitution. Mumia Abu-Jamal did not get a fair trial, there are numerous contradictory statements by witnesses, and there have been international support for a retrial and/or release. He has recently been taken off death row and redelegated to life in prison w/o parole.

I strongly recommend anyone to read “Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the USA” by Mumia Abu-Jamal (City Lights Books, 2009) but especially for those aspiring lawyers out there. Lawyering is not about being a high-roller in Wall Street corporate law. Lawyering is about protecting those in need without even thinking about the crap that you will have to deal with in doing so.

Mumia Abu-Jamal continues to give me strength in fighting the ills of society, and he is always in my prayers.

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