Death-penalty opponents are asking state officials around the country to follow the lead of outgoing Illinois Governor George Ryan, who recently commuted the death sentences of all 167 inmates on death row.
The Republican governor was a longtime supporter of the death penalty. But he became convinced the system was broken when it emerged that thirteen people who had been sentenced to death were innocent.
In Pennsylvania yesterday, the American Friends Service Committee urged Gov.-elect Ed Rendell to halt any executions of the state’s 244 death-row inmates. Rendell said he is not likely to call for a death-penalty moratorium in Pennsylvania, but that he would review the issue.
Critics say the death penalty is applied unfairly to Pennsylvania’s African Americans. More than half of the state’s 244 condemned inmates are black.
Today we will hear from Pennsylvania’s most famous death row inmate, Mumia Abu Jamal, speaking on Gov. Ryan’s decision.
“Ryan has dealt a serious crippling blow to the state system of death and the inability of the dignitaries and officials of the system to cure the serious problems of the death penalty were shown in sharp and stark relief,” Abu Jamal said.
Abu Jamal has been on death row for 20 years after being convicted in 1982 of killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. A journalist, Black Panther, MOVE member, and outspoken critic of police brutality, racism and the death penalty, Mumia Abu Jamal has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence.
Over the last two decades, Abu Jamal has written regular commentaries on local, national and world affairs. This commentary was recorded on Sunday by Noelle Hanrahan of the Prison Radio Project.
- Mumia Abu Jamal, political prisoner and journalist on death row in Pennsylvania.