Jailhouse Lawyers

Jailhouse Lawyers
Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A.
Foreword by Angela Y. Davis

Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts
Jan 2, 2011

Listen to the podcast: Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Essays

- Mumia Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio

"Cornel West & Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Conversation"
Mar 3, 2010

Recorded at Labyrinth Books in Princeton, NJ during the book launch of Jailhouse Lawyers.

- Cornel West & Mumia Abu-Jamal

BookTV: Interview with Mumia Abu-Jamal
Apr 17, 2010

"Former Black Panther Party member and death row inmate presents the practices and cases of prisoners defending other prisoners in the U.S. court system. He is calling from prison to participate in a conversation with Cornel West & Patricia Fernandez Kelley."

Celebrating Mumia Abu-Jamal's 55th birthday and the release of his new book "Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A."
Apr 24, 2009

Watch speeches by Angela Davis, Ed Mead, Tiny, aka Lisa Gray-Garcia, Tony Serra and others at the celebration of Mumia's 55th birthday at the Humanist Hall in Oakland, CA.

- Abu-Jamal News

The Black House Blog

"Journalist, activist, and author Abu-Jamal writes a startling expose' on otherwise shrouded subject matter, thusly inaugurating this book unto an exemplary class by itself. Indeed, the power of his truth upholds the long-neglected promise of transformation awaiting the domains of justice."
—Mischa Geracoulis

"Without Struggle, There Is Nothing"–Mumia Abu-Jamal Speaks from Death Row about His Case, Prison Reform and "Jailhouse Lawyers"
Apr 16, 2009

"We turn now to my interview with author, journalist, death row prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal. Last week, the Supreme Court denied his appeal to overturn his conviction for the 1981 killing of a white police officer following a controversial trial before a predominantly white jury. Abu-Jamal contends, as well as a number of [inaudible], that the case was marred with racial bias, including the deliberate exclusion of African Americans from the jury. The decision leaves in place a federal appeals court ruling upholding Abu-Jamal's conviction."

- Amy Goodman, democracynow.org

Post Supreme Court Interview with Mumia
Apr 6, 2009

Listen to Mumia's post Supreme Court ruling interview with Noelle Hanrahan.

- Noelle Hanrahan, Prison Radio

Z Magazine

"To borrow from an old African-American proverb, Mumia Abu-Jamal 'speaks truth to power' in his latest book on jailhouse lawyering, the American legal system, and the prison-industrial complex. . . . Abu-Jamal writes with incisive equanimity while presenting penetratingly disturbing facts, little known in mainstream society."—Mischa Geracoulis

Fort Hood
Nov 16, 2009

""Once again, an American soldier has gone on a rampage, shooting other American soldiers.

What makes this news even more remarkable than usual is the fact that the shooter is more than a soldier -- he's a doctor -- and a psychiatrist!

Oh -- and he's Muslim."

- Mumia Abu-Jamal, Z Space

The Federal Lawyer

"From his unique vantage point (he has been incarcerated for more than a quarter of a century, most of that on death row), Abu-Jamal aptly humanizes the individuals toiling behind bars to bring cases against enormous institutional, societal, and legal obstacles. . . . [The book] testifies to the character of many jailhouse lawyers, who, when treated with disdain or worse, quietly persist in reading, analyzing, writing, and fighting to do what is right — doing justice."
—Heidi Boghosian

The Afghanistan Trap
Oct 16, 2009

"The Afghanistan war is due for a recycling, but it may not go the way the U.S. has planned.
Begun under dubious circumstances, more as a demonstration war to set the stage for the real drama of Iraq, Afghanistan has almost always been more useful as a proxy war, fought by others, rather than a direct war, fought by Americans.
But 9-11 changed all that, and today, 9 years later, Barack Obama is beginning to resemble, more and more, another congressman who became a president: Lyndon B. Johnson...

Death Row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal is a committed revolutionary, journalist, and author of many books. His most recent title is Jailhouse Lawyers; Prisoners Defending Prisoners vs. the USA."

- Mumia Abu-Jamal, Z Space

G20 Speech
Sep 1, 2009

"From Death Row, Mumia Abu-Jamal."

- Mumia Abu-Jamal, Z Space

Imagine Being Van Jones
Sep 22, 2009

"Death Row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal is a committed revolutionary, journalist, and author of many books. His most recent title is Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners vs. The USA published by City Lights Books. Massive evidence demonstrating that Mumia Abu-Jamal did not receive a fair trial has convinced groups as diverse as Amnesty International and the national NAACP to demand that he be granted a retrial."

- Mumia Abu-Jamal, Z Space

Citing Withheld Evidence, Supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal Call for Civil Rights Investigation
Jun 16, 2009

"On April 6, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal from death-row journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of white Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner in a 1982 trial deemed unfair by Amnesty International, the European Parliament, the Japanese Diet, Nelson Mandela and numerous others. Citing the Supreme Court denial and several instances of withheld evidence, Abu-Jamal's international support network is now calling for a federal civil rights investigation into Abu-Jamal’s case."

- Hans Bennett, San Francisco Bay View

Poor Magazine

"Mumia chronicles numerous stories surrounding the experiences of those who faced incarceration, but narrowly escaped with the power of the pen, and the tongue of one (or more) like-minded individuals possessing self-invented legal minds. Like-minded individuals who were immensely unafraid, to divinely deter the injustices they faced in prison. . . Mumia deconstructs the entire corruptive constructs rooted in the contradictive, confusing force that is historically known as American Law. Its callous vulture-culture continues to clash its claws upon the working poor, and the poor in general." —Marlon Crump


"More than a book about prisoners defending prisoners in what the author justly calls 'the Prisonhouse of Nations,' Mumia Abu-Jamal's Jailhouse Lawyers has the potential to jump-start the prison reform movement in the US. In addition to telling the individual stories of the best (and worst) jailhouse lawyers defending themselves and their fellow prisoners in the face of official hostility and, in many instances personal danger, and presenting a lively history of jailhouse lawyering in modern America, Abu-Jamal clearly exposes the political and racial bias of the US criminal justice system and explores the role of jailhouse lawyers in the jungle of American law."

—Richard Vogel

Turning Point in History
May 2, 2009
"Now is the time to organize, to expand our movements, to protest  in our strength and our diversity, for if history teaches us anything, if the left fails to organize, the right will do so." - Mumia Abu-Jamal, ZSpace

Obama and America del Sur: A 'New Relationship?'
Apr 30, 2009
"As U.S. President, Barack Obama treks to the Caribbean to sit and sup with Latin American leaders, he does so amidst a promise of a new relationship with America del Sur. While this brand of quiet and thoughtful presence is indeed profoundly different from the thoughtless bravado and bluster of his immediate predecessor, George W. Bush, it still hearkens back to a bygone era, one rarely recalled today, that of John F. Kennedy. Yet is this merely a difference of style or substance?" - Mumia Abu-Jamal, ZSpace

The Indypendent
"Despite the U.S. Supreme Court's rejection April 6 of Abu-Jamal's appeal for a new trial, he continues to fight for his freedom. This would not have been possible without the support of millions worldwide. He reminds the reader of the more than two million Americans behind bars in similar situations to himself, and that those in the free world have a responsibility to those trapped 'in the bowels of the slave ship, in the hidden dank dungeons of America.'" —Jaisal Noor

Mumia Abu-Jamal & Prison Abolition
Apr 28, 2009
On April 24, 2009, in Oakland, CA, former political prisoner Angela Y. Davis spoke in support of death-row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, at an event marking Abu-Jamal's 55th birthday and the release of his new book: 'Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. The USA'. (10 minutes) - Angela Davis, ZVideo

In Her Own Words: An Interview wit' Angela Davis
Apr 24, 2009
". . . Mumia's case is so important for us to get involved in. We have to save his life. We have to free Mumia. And yeah, as many people acknowledge he rarely uses his amazing talent and capacities to advocate for himself. He's always advocating for others, and that is all the more reason to be passionate advocates for him. I have traveled in other parts of the world a great deal, and there are movements to free Mumia all over the world. Sometimes I feel very embarrassed that we have not managed to overcome the power of the Fraternal Order of Police for example and the other conservative forces that are determined to put Mumia to death. But this book is yet another reason why we need to defend him, and why we need to use whatever is available to us, whatever knowledge, whatever instruments are available to us to guarantee that his life is saved and that he is eventually set free." - JR Valrey, The Liberator Magazine

Drums in the Global Village
"Mumia Abu-Jamal points out in his latest book, his sixth from Death Row in Pennsylvania, that unfortunately jailhouse lawyers—prisoners who learn the law in the joint and help other prisoners with appeals and legal problems—have a reputation of freeing others while they squat. 'It's the bane of jailhouse lawyers. They seem to be able to help everybody but themselves.' That truth hit home earlier this month when the U.S. Supreme Court refused, without comment, to hear the former Black Panther’s appeal for a new trial based on the prosecution’s consistent exclusion of blacks from his 1982 jury pool. He turns 55 Friday, which means he has officially spent more than half his life in jail. Unless further appeals work, a new Philadelphia jury will eventually be composed, and it will give him life imprisonment or re-institute his death sentence for the 1981 murder of Daniel Faulkner, a white Philadelphia police officer. Then the state of Pennsylvania will try to kill him again." —Todd S. Burroughs

World To Come
Apr 15, 2009
"By any reliable measure, the U.S. economy is not growing, but contracting. The jobless rate has recently climbed to the highest levels since 1983, and already this recession is expected to be the longest in 70 years! . . . The world's reserve currency (the U.S. dollar) is used both as a tool to trade in commodities, such as crude oil, and as an investment in itself, such as in Treasury notes (called 'T-bills'). Both uses send hundreds of billions into American treasuries. To cut that off could spell an unprecedented fall in the value of the U.S. dollar, and send the American economy spiraling downward." - Mumia Abu-Jamal, ZSpace

WBAI "Where We Live"
Apr 9, 2009
"The April 9, 2009 WBAI Radio show 'Where We Live' focusing on the case of death row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, and the April 4 US Supreme Court ruling which rejected Abu-Jamal's appeal for a new guilt phase trial." - Suzanne Ross, WBAI

Supreme Court lets Mumia Abu-Jamal's conviction stand
Apr 6, 2009
"The Supreme Court has let stand the conviction of former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was sent to death row for gunning down a Philadelphia police officer 28 years ago. He contends blacks were unfairly excluded from the jury, and has been an outspoken activist from behind bars. The justices made their announcement Monday. A separate appeal over whether Abu-Jamal deserves a new sentencing hearing has not been taken up by the high court." - Bill Mears, CNN

High Court Lets Abu-Jamal's Conviction Stand
Apr 6, 2009
"Death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal lost his bid for a new trial in the killing of a city police officer after the U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that it will not take up the case . . . Abu-Jamal's attorney, Robert R. Bryan of San Francisco, called his client's trial 'a mockery of justice' and said Monday he would seek a rehearing by the high court. But prosecutor Hugh Burns said that 'for practical purposes, this was the last remotely realistic chance for getting a new trial.' Abu-Jamal's death sentence remains in limbo." - Kathy Matheson, Associated Press

Crime Magazine

"Mumia Abu-Jamal's 27 years on Death Row for a murder he did not commit would have turned almost anyone else into an embittered, defeated man. Instead, he has remained what he always was, "the voice of the voiceless," as he demonstrates yet again in his most recent book . . . Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A. opens a tightly shut door into the operations of the U.S. penal system by chronicling the exploits of dozens of jailhouse lawyers – both men and women – who have fought the injustices the courts and the prisons have dealt them and their fellow prisoners. Their accomplishments, against all odds, have been incredible. Their story is a story never before told."

—J. Patrick O'Connor

OpEd News
"Because the justice system in the United States has become so politicized around 'law and order' and has erected an entire industry to house those convicted, the United States – which represents 5 percent of the world's population – now incarcerates 25 percent of the world's prison population. That would go a long way in explaining why there are tens of thousands of jailhouse lawyers working pro se for themselves and other inmates and why Abu-Jamal's latest book is such an important one." —J. Patrick O'Connor

The Latest Twist in the Mumia Case: Supreme Test
Mar 20, 2009

"...An internet based petition campaign requesting the US Supreme Court to overturn the 3rd Circuit ruling and grant Abu-Jamal a court hearing on the jury selection discrimination issue amassed over 1,200 signatures in just a few days. This petition campaign initiated by a coalition of anti-death penalty groups in Germany has gained signatures from persons in Germany, Austria, Brazil and Turkey despite it not being formally launched internationally. So far, petition signers include noted German actors, actresses, activists, academics, civic leaders and one member of the German parliament."

- Linn Washington, Jr., Counterpunch


"The first of its kind, Mumia has written a book that is, paradoxically, both revolutionary and conservative. It's revolutionary because it breaks new ground enlightening us about the courageous, unorthodox resistance to the system (and its inherent injustices) posed by jailhouse lawyers. It's conservative because, as Mumia points out, '…jailhouse lawyers often unwittingly serve the interests of the state by propagating the illusion of 'justice’ and 'equity’ in a system devoted to neither.'  They create 'illusions of legal options as pathways to both individual and collective liberation'. . . . I recommend this book to all who are interested in justice and its denial, prisoners and their loved ones, courage and consciousness, equality and freedom."

—Kiilu Nyasha

The Other Inauguration
Mar 10, 2009

Mumia Abu-Jamal on racist violence against black men in prisons on Inauguration Day, while Obama took office. Listen Here!

- Mumia Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio

Money Changers in the Temple
Mar 9, 2009

Mumia Abu-Jamal on money changers in the Bible, FDR and the current financial crisis. Listen here!

- Mumia Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio

Mumia's New Book On Jailhouse Lawyers
Mar 5, 2009

"You can purchase Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A., released this March, directly from City Lights Books. Read the foreword by former political prisoner Angela Y. Davis and an interview with Mumia about his new book. In Mumia's words, "This is the story of law learned, not in the ivory towers of multi-billion-dollar endowed universities, but in the bowels of the slave-ship, in the hidden, dank dungeons of America."

'More Than A Book Party' events will be held in the US around April 24, to mark Mumia's birthday and the release of Jailhouse Lawyers."

- Abu-Jamal News

Introduction to Mumia Abu-Jamal's New Book on Jailhouse Lawyers
Mar 3, 2009

"One of the most important public intellectuals of our time, Mumia Abu-Jamal has spent more than twenty-five years behind bars, the majority of that time on death row. He is supported by millions all over the planet, not only because of the egregious repression he has suffered at the hands of the state of Pennsylvania, but because he has used his abundant talents as a thinker and writer to expand our knowledge of the hidden world of jails, prisons, and death houses in which he has spent the last decades of his life. As a transformative thinker, he has always taken care to emphasize the connections between incarcerated lives and lives that unfold in the putative arenas of freedom."

- Angela Y. Davis, IndyBay

Inheriting An Empire
Mar 2, 2009
Click to hear Mumia. - Mumia Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio

The Passing of the Papers
Mar 2, 2009
Click to hear Mumia. - Mumia Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio

More Lessons from Luzerne
Mar 2, 2009

Click to hear Mumia.

- Mumia Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio

Jailhouse Lawyers
Feb 25, 2009

"Mumia Abu-Jamal has been unjustly incarcerated on Death Row in Pennsylvania for more than 25 years. A detailed report by Amnesty International demonstrates that Abu-Jamal was the victim of a heinously racist trail, and calls for a retrial. The following questions were mailed to Mumia Abu-Jamal at SCI-Green Prison in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania by his editor at City Lights Books, Greg Ruggiero.

(1) Can you please describe what Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. The USA is about? What is it trying to communicate?

The book, Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. The USA is about the shadow-world of jailhouse lawyers, and their battles in the courts and in their cells, to gain a thin foothold in the struggle for human decency, the fulfillment of the constitution, and for service."

- Mumia Abu-Jamal, ZNet

Music Over the Mall
Jan 28, 2009

As a student of history, of politics and of music I viewed the recent presidential inauguration with considerable interest.
And while it was obviously a moment of historic proportions, it can't be said that it held surprise.

That's usually because politics tends to flatten highs, and lop off lows, as politicians attempt to appeal to the broadest base.
That's also because political systems strive for the safety and security of protocol; the safe refuge of precedent, to give the image that all is well, that the U.S. endures,and the empire is essential unchanged, and still regnant.
I therefore beheld it from a distance; interested, yes, but not engaged.
If anything was utterly remarkable, it was the vast throng, standing for hours in the biting cold for as far as the eye could see.
Yet, for all the glitter and spectacle, what moved most was something quite unexpected.
John Williams' composition (he of "Star Wars" and "Jaws" fame), "Heirs..." performed by violinist Itzhak Perlman, cellist Yo-Yo- Ma, clarinet player Anthony McGill and pianist Gabriela Montero, was a breathtaking piece of musical mastery. Perlman began the piece, his violin sounding a mournful dirge that was almost funereal.  He was joined shortly thereafter by Yo-Yo Ma's deeper cello, which echoed this theme, painting a picture of wintry mourning, of emotional heaviness.  This mood was shattered by McGill's light, airy clarinet, which was as triumphant as the coming of spring.  By the time Montero graced the keys, the theme had wholly changed.  From winter, to the bright warmth of spring, from dissonance to ebullient unity.
To say this was a composition of beauty and brilliance would be understatement.

It was a work finely tuned to its time. It was a music nicely pitched to the passing of a political era.
It teaches us that music, at its best, can be magical.
It was so wondrous that I wept.
--(c) '09 maj

- Mumia Abu-Jamal

U.S. activists in solidarity with political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal
Dec 12, 2008

"Dec. 6 was declared an International Day of Solidarity with death row political prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal. Events were held in France, Switzerland, Germany, England and Mexico, while in the U.S. events were organized in Detroit, San Francisco, Baltimore, Portland, San Diego and other cities."

- Betsy Piette, Workers World

International Day of Solidarity for Mumia Abu-Jamal
Dec 2, 2008
"At noon, on Saturday, Dec. 6, supporters of death-row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal will gather at Philadelphia City Hall for a protest march through downtown that will conclude at the Federal Court Building. International solidarity actions are being held in France, Switzerland, Germany, England, and Mexico, while in the US, events are organized in Detroit, San Francisco, Baltimore, Portland, and San Diego. Mumia is currently appealing to the US Supreme Court for a new guilt-phase trial, while the Philadelphia DA is appealing to the same court in an effort to execute Mumia without a new sentencing-phase jury trial.

The new video Fighting for Mumia's Freedom: a report from Philadelphia focuses on the March 27, 2008 denial of a new guilt-phase trial for Mumia, the DA's continued attempt to execute him, and the response of Mumia and his international support network."
- Hans Bennett, Philly Independent Media Center

Kirkus Reviews

"Convicted for the 1981 murder of a police officer, Abu-Jamal . . . offers a hodgepodge of stories about imprisoned men and women who have picked up enough law to represent themselves and others, fight for prisoners' rights and challenge prison conditions. These advocates learned the law 'not in the ivory towers of multi-billion-dollar-endowed universities,' he writes, but 'in the bowels of the slave-ship, in the hidden, dank dungeons of America—the Prisonhouse of Nations' . . . . Drawing on correspondence with two-dozen jailhouse lawyers around the country, Abu-Jamal discusses the lives and work of men and women—some educated, others barely able to read and write—who do legal research, file grievances and litigate cases, often earning reputations as troublemakers and dealt with accordingly by prison authorities. Thousands of such lawyers now work among the 2.3 million inmates of America’s prison system, 'to help, to uplift, and even to free others'. . . . Abu-Jamal details the legal strictures governing jailhouse law, including the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, intended to prevent frivolous lawsuits by prisoners. Far from being frivolous, he argues, many such actions have led to significant prison reforms."

Death Row Activist Prepares New Appeal
Sep 3, 2008
"Mumia Abu-Jamal rallied thousands of protesters in the U.S. city of Denver last week who were calling for the release of U.S. political prisoners.

In a recorded message for the crowds protesting outside the Democratic National Convention, journalist Abu-Jamal attacked U.S. foreign policy, the protection of 'foreign despots' and war for 'foreign pipelines'.

Abu-Jamal made the recording from his death row prison cell at a time when his 26-year battle for freedom has reached a critical point.

He and his lawyer are preparing to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court to ask it to rule on whether the lower courts have denied him justice because of racial bias." - Adrianne Appel, Inter Press Service

New Legal Update for Mumia Abu-Jamal
Jun 10, 2008
" This Legal Update is made on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who is on Pennsylvania’s death row.  United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia Yesterday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit entered an order extending the due date for submitting the Petition for Rehearing En Banc on behalf of my client, Mumia Abu-Jamal. We will file it on June 27, 2008.  There apparently is still confusion regarding the March 27 federal decision. A new jury trial was ordered on the question of whether the penalty should be life or death. The court did not rule that Mumia should receive a life sentence as some have stated. The penalty-phase was reversed because the trial judge gave misleading and unconstitutional jury instructions. Nonetheless, I expect far greater gains..." - Lead attorney Robert R. Bryan, Indybay.org