Mens et Manus in Prison
ESG Seminar (SP274):

Political Prisoners:
Personalities, Principles, & Politics

Journalists In Prison

The Irish Times
Letters to the Editor
May 23, 2000, p. 15

Sir, — Terry Clancy (May 18th) appears to have deliberately worded his letter in a way that suggests Mumia Abu Jamal was imprisoned for his writings and not for the slaying of police officer Daniel Faulkner. He was actually imprisoned for pulling the trigger of his legally registered .38-calibre pistol and depositing a fatal .38-calibre bullet into the victim's head. The basis for Jamal's sentence was the act he committed, not his journalism or his political affiliation with the Black Panthers - although his links with that organisation cannot have helped his case either. From what I have read of the case - from sources a bit more liberal with the facts than Terry Clancy - I believe that Jamal's trial was less than fair. The jury at his trial consisted of only three black jurors, one of whom was later dismissed from the case. However, I do not agree with Terry Clancy's assertion that Jamal was the victim of a "frame-up". Strangely, for a person who invokes the significance of World Press Freedom Day, Terry Clancy fails to present a true account of the Jamal case.

I oppose the execution of Mumia Abu Jamal; not because he is black, not because he is a journalist, not because a lot of television stars and rock musicians are convinced of his innocence, not because Judge Sabo who presided over Jamal's trial has sentenced more black people to death than any other judge in the US, and not because I believe him to be innocent - I believe him to be guilty - but because I am opposed to capital punishment. Those in favour of ending capital punishment in America can make use of the Jamal case to highlight their opposition to the death penalty. Whether they believe him to be innocent or not is irrelevant to the central tenets which reject capital punishment. But surely, supporters of press freedom can find someone other than Mumia Abu Jamal to champion their cause.

Yours, etc.,
Raymond Tierney,
Mount Merrion,
Co Dublin.

Last modified on Saturday, March 2, 2002 at 10:37:54 PM EST