Abu-Jamal moved into general prison population for first time

Mumia Abu-Jamal on death row in the 1990s. His death sentence was overturned last year.
Mumia Abu-Jamal on death row in the 1990s. His death sentence was overturned last year. (APRIL SAUL / File Photograph)
Posted: January 29, 2012

Mumia Abu-Jamal has been moved into the general prison population for the first time since going on death row for the killing of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.

Susan McNaughton, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, said Abu-Jamal was moved Friday from the restricted housing unit at the Mahanoy facility in Frackville, Schuylkill County.

In the restricted housing unit, Abu-Jamal had largely been in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day.

Abu-Jamal was convicted of the 1981 shooting death of Faulkner. His death sentence was overturned last year, allowing for his transfer into the general prison population.

The federal appeals court ruled that the trial judge's instructions to the jury had been unfairly weighted toward execution.

That ruling in Philadelphia was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in October.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said in December he would not seek a new death-penalty hearing, and agreed to a life term.

Abu-Jamal had been on death row at Greene state prison in Waynesburg until he was transferred to Mahanoy, a medium-security institution, shortly after Williams' decision.

Judith L. Ritter, a law professor and director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at Widener University who represented Abu-Jamal in recent appeals, said in a statement:

"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."

Abu-Jamal supporters, through various websites and social networks, applauded the move.

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