Ralph Nader Radio Hour
Ralph Nader Radio Hour
Mumia Abu-Jamal: Criminal Injustice
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Mumia Abu-Jamal: Criminal Injustice

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Mumia Abu-Jamal has spent the last forty-two of his seventy years on Earth behind the bars of a Pennsylvania state prison, twenty-nine and a half of those on Death Row based on a dubious and extremely flawed and biased conviction for murder. Today, we explore his story and what it tells us about what Ralph calls our “criminal injustice system.” We speak to Noelle Hanranah, the founder and legal director of Prison Radio for which Mumia has done thousands of commentaries, and Professor Joy James, political philosopher, academic and author, who has studied America’s carceral state. Plus, we get the rare opportunity to speak to Mumia himself, who answers our questions from prison.


Joy James Lecture | The Ohio State University

Joy James is Ebenezer Fitch Professor of Humanities at Williams College. Professor James has published numerous articles on: political theory, police, prison and slavery abolition; radicalizing feminisms; diasporic anti-black racism; and US politics. She is the author and editor of several books including The New Abolitionists: (Neo)Slave Narratives and Contemporary Prison Writings, Imprisoned Intellectuals, Resisting State Violence, and Warfare in the American Homeland.

[Mumia’s] a treasure. And I don't want to make him an isolate. I think there are a number of people who have been incarcerated for decades who study and struggle—that's a phrase people use in terms of books reaching the incarcerated, but also the writings of the incarcerated coming out of prisons. They enable us to be able to learn and study with them. If not physically in the same space, definitely with the same ethics and the same commitments.

Joy James

The way that I see what we're struggling against—which I believe echoes what Mumia has been writing about and talking about—is very complex, overlapping systems of containment and control in which poor- and working-class people are going to be the most negatively affected.

Joy James


‘The Bodies of Prisoners Are Commodities’ - CounterSpin interview with ...

Noelle Hanrahan is the founder and legal director of Prison Radio, a multimedia production studio that brings the voices of incarcerated people into the public debate. Since 1992, she has produced over 3,500 multimedia recordings from over 100 prison radio correspondents, including the critically acclaimed work of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

[Mumia Abu-Jamal is] facing a system in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, which literally does not privilege the U.S. Constitution. It's more interested in finality…So they privilege procedure over merit.

Noelle Hanrahan


‘Mumia Abu-Jamal is just one step away from freedom,’ says Maureen Faulkner

Mumia Abu Jamal is an award-winning broadcast journalist, essayist, and author of 12 books. Most recently, he’s completed the historic trilogy Murder Incorporated (Perfecting Tyranny, Dreaming of Empire, and America’s Favorite Pastime.) In the late 1970s, Abu-Jamal worked as a reporter for radio stations throughout the Delaware Valley. In 1981, Abu-Jamal was elected president of the Association of Black Journalists’ Philadelphia chapter. Since 1982, Abu-Jamal has lived in state prison (28 of those years were spent in solitary confinement on death row.) Currently, he’s serving life without parole at SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, PA. Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial and its resultant first-degree murder conviction have been criticized as unconstitutionally corrupt by legal and activist groups for decades, including by Amnesty International and Nobel Laureates Nelson Mandela, Toni Morrison, and Desmond Tutu.

I love it when I hear or read about so-called conservatives talking about “two tiers of justice.” Justice if anything is at least three tiers— it's one tier for white people, another tier for black folks, and a third tier for the very rich. Now guess who gets sweetest deals? I mean look, it doesn't take a rocket scientist, right? If you're rich in this country, you can get every break that you can afford. You can get the best justice, the best lawyers, and they will fight wars.

Mumia Abu-Jamal

When prisoners use the phone or go to the commissary—every item you buy, every call you make, it's taxed. So what about taxation without representation, in this so-called democracy, where every voice should be heard, and every person should be allowed the opportunity to vote?

Mumia Abu-Jamal

In prison, the most important thing, the one thing that stops guys from coming back is education. The most important thing is education. I would even say what people need is a de-colonial education, especially in prison.

Mumia Abu-Jamal

I never succumbed to calling our system a criminal justice system—it's a criminal injustice system, because it reflects raceand class bias to an extraordinary degree. The studies have been overwhelming on this. You don't see many corporate criminals in jail these days. You don't see many prosecutions. You don't see many investigations of the corporate crime wave that takes a far greater toll in lives, injuries, and property than street crime does. But then, the system reflects the power structure.

Ralph Nader

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Ralph Nader Radio Hour
Ralph Nader Radio Hour
Ralph Nader talks about what’s happening in America, what’s happening around the world, and most importantly what’s happening underneath it all.
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