Political prisoner and revolutionary journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal has been the victim of criminal neglect by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections for months, and his life is in grave danger.
The problem began in January with a severe skin rash which spread to Mumia’s entire body. When he asked for treatment he was given antibiotics and steroids, but these led to allergic reactions, including extreme swelling from his feet to his head, and severe blisters. His skin was tight and crusted. Mumia told his wife Wadiya Jamal and other visitors that a prison doctor said he looked like he was “in a suit of armor,” with “his chest raised up to his chin to create space to breathe.”
Obviously he should have been taken to the hospital immediately, but he was not. On February 17th he was admitted to the prison infirmary for a week, then sent back to his cell, where his condition continued to deteriorate.
On March 30, 2015 Mumia walked into the infirmary at SCI Mahanoy and fell unconscious, suffering from what was then an undiagnosed and untreated diabetes (this despite three blood samples that had been taken). FINALLY, he was taken to a hospital and treated in the ICU at the Schuylkill Medical Center for 3 days. He was in a state of diabetic shock, with a blood sugar level of 779. If this level had been just a bit higher, he would have gone into a coma and likely died. He was dehydrated and his sodium level was 168. These conditions show that the wretched treatment and lack of proper medical care of the state prison had almost succeeded in killing Mumia!
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After allowing Mumia’s wife and brother a brief visit on March 31, the prison authorities changed the rules and prevented his family from visiting. An international uproar and hundreds of calls to Pennsylvania state and prison authorities resulted in family visits being allowed again, but a new rule specified only one visit by a close family member per week. Calls are still needed to demand more frequent family visits. (See phone numbers, below.)
Mumia was transferred back to prison on April 1, to the same prison infirmary that failed to properly diagnose or treat him before the hospitalization. Although his condition is somewhat improved from just before his hospitalization, he is weakened by a drastic weight loss of over 80 pounds in about 5 weeks, and his situation remains grave. On April 2nd, Mumia collapsed in the prison infirmary bathroom and lay on the floor for 45 minutes before being found by a doctor and prisoner.
Mumia’s Life Is Still In Danger
Now in a manually operated wheelchair, Mumia is very weak, his skin is still raw and blistered, and he has some difficulty breathing. While his mind is still sharp, he suffers from some loss in the ability to retrieve words. As described by Suzanne Ross of the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC), following her visit with Mumia on April 13th:
“Mumia was very alert and deep, as usual filled with extensive historical knowledge, as we discussed some of the same kinds of political issues we generally discuss when I visit. He was occasionally even humorous. His spirit and intellect remain unquestionably Mumia. But he is concerned about some loss in his ability to retrieve words, aphasia like symptoms, and he sometimes experiences fugue states. He apparently did not experience any of these symptoms while I was there. Very notable to me was the trauma all this has imposed on Mumia, major, major, major physical and emotional trauma. He feels the steroids given him for his initial skin problem brought on the diabetes, and now the life threatening diabetic picture, not to mention the pain, the itching, the shaking, and the memory issues he described. ALL DONE TO HIM, IMPOSED ON HIM.”
(See Ross’ full report at: http://www.freemumia.com/2015/
Mumia’s Plight Is Typical For Long-term Prisoners
The mass incarceration policies in the US, increasingly administered by private corporations interested only in their bottom line, create hellish conditions for their captive victims, particularly those on “slow death row” (life without the possibility of parole), as is Mumia. Mumia is the first one to point this out, and, despite the stress of his present situation, to advocate for other prisoners and the oppressed and exploited in general. As Heidi Bogosian and Johanna Fernandez point out in a piece on Black Agenda Report,
“Mumia’s condition highlights the systemic neglect and abuse of prisoners in our nation’s vast and ever growing system of mass incarceration. A daily diet high in carbohydrates, salt and sugar has left an estimated 80 thousand suffering from diabetes. Compounding the inadequate nutrition is the sub-par medical care provided by a vast for-profit provider that reaps some $1.5 billion a year in profits from prison healthcare contracts. Using an HMO model that puts cost-cutting above all, Corizon Correctional Healthcare has paid millions in legal settlements over inadequate or bungled treatment. Not surprisingly, the Bureau of Justice reported some 40% of prisoners and jail inmates in 2011-2012 reporting chronic medical condition such as asthma, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure—and diabetes.”
(Heidi Boghosian is a lawyer in New York City, and Johanna Fernandez is Assistant Professor of History at Baruch College Both are long-time advocates for Mumia Abu-Jamal. See their full piece, titled “A Slow Death for Mumia Abu-Jamal and Thousands of Prisoners in America” at: http://www.blackagendareport.
Mumia Needs All of Us to Help Now!
Targeted by police, prosecutors and the FBI from a young age, Mumia was framed in a blatantly unfair trial for a crime he didn’t commit in 1982. Since then, state and federal courts have continued to cover-up this atrocity by refusing to hear or act on overwhelming evidence that explodes the frame-up and should set him free. Also since then, Mumia has dedicated his 33 years of life in prison to exposing the racism, imperialism and other crimes of this capitalist system within which we all live, as shown in his hundreds of recorded commentaries and numerous books.
Now we must step up!
Mumia needs his own physician specialists! Please donate now to help make this possible. Please got to the web site below and give as generously as you can.
Sign the petition
to help save—and free—Mumia.
We need to keep up the pressure
with phone calls:
Let SCI Mahanoy Superintendent John Kerestes and Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel know we insist that Mumia have medical specialists of his own choosing, and that they have daily access rights to examine and treat him. Also let them know that Mumia’s family needs regular and frequent visitation rights.
Superintendent John Kerestes
Chief Health Care Administrator Steinhardt
Director, PA Department of Corrections Health Care Services
Secretary, PA Department of Corrections
NO EXECUTION BY MEDICAL NEGLECT!
SAVE MUMIA’S LIFE!
Mumia is Innocent! Free Mumia Now!
This message by:
Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
20 April 2015