Sadism in the Cell: Thanks to a Vindictive Prison System, Abu-Jamal is Still in 'The Hole'
Those intent on tormenting now ex-death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal have done it again, this time perhaps even exceeding their past efforts to painfully harass this man widely perceived as a political prisoner.
The latest punitive slap involves Pennsylvania prison authorities throwing Abu-Jamal into “Administrative Custody,” more commonly known as ‘The Hole.’
The draconian constraints of AC placement surpass the harsh restrictions of the death row isolation Abu-Jamal has endured for over a quarter century.
A jury sentenced Abu-Jamal to death following a controversial July 1982 conviction for killing a Philadelphia policeman.
No surprise that this latest punitive assault against Abu-Jamal has his worldwide support movement in an uproar. Supporters see AC placement as retaliation by those incensed that Abu-Jamal is no longer facing execution.
Energizing supporters is the opposite of what Philadelphia’s District Attorney Seth Williams said he desired when he announced last month that his office would not seek reinstitution of Abu-Jamal’s death sentence. At the time, DA Williams said he hoped avoiding a rehearing on the death sentence would consign Abu-Jamal to obscurity.
Pennsylvania’s governor and the president of Philadelphia’s police union also used the word obscurity when voicing their hopes that the life sentence for Abu-Jamal would decimate his cause célèbre status among death penalty abolitions worldwide.
Instead, however, Prison officials rejected the standard procedure of placing Abu-Jamal in general population, the status for all inmates not sentenced to death. They removed Abu-Jamal from death row only to transfer him to an Administrative Custody cell block inside the death row housing Greene maximum security prison located more than 300-miles from Philadelphia in southwest Pennsylvania, thus assuring that his case would again be on the front burner.
Inmates in general population have full privileges to visitation (contact, not conjugal contact), telephone and commissary, along with access to all prison programs and services, but in administrative custody, which is punitive in nature, prisoners are permitted only a limited number of visits, no telephone calls (except legal or emergency), and the even get only limited access to legal materials needed for appeals.
Sue Bensinger, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, declined comment on Abu-Jamal’s case citing the Department’s “security and privacy” regulations.
Bensinger did confirm that authorities now hold Abu-Jamal in Mahanoy, a medium security prison about 100 miles from Philadelphia in central Pennsylvania. Mahanoy cannot hold death row prisoners according to DoC regulation.
DoC personnel moved Abu-Jamal to Mahanoy from Greene during an unannounced pre-dawn transfer on December 14, 2011.