Friday, March 13, 2009

Mumia Speaks: More Lessons From Luzern County...

[col. writ. 3/2/09] (c) '09 Mumia Abu-Jamal

Recently, a piece was produced on the scandal in Pennsylvania's Luzerne County, where 2 judges pleaded guilty for playing their parts in a kickback scheme that netted them over 2 and 1/2 million bucks.

The beneficiaries of their hustle were private juvenile prison builders, owners and investors (oh -- and themselves, of course).

The losers were hundreds of Luzerne County's children, kids who were treated like cattle, as they were shuffled through so-called 'courts' -- without counsel --, where so-called 'judges' sent them away from their parents, their siblings, and their fellow students, for acts as benign as passing notes, or sending fresh emails -- to private prisons for profit!

While the judges pleaded guilty to relatively minor charges, some other officials at the court, from county clerk to deputy court administrator have followed the judges in plea agreements.

What is utterly remarkable is how easily and effortlessly these judges did their thing, in stark violation of the state's Juvenile Act, * with virtual impunity, for almost a decade!

One must wonder, where were the lawyers looking out for the interests of these kids? Or were they so cowed, so shocked, so shaken by a 'long train of abuses' that they were silenced by the ugliness of corruption, and the aura of fear?

Pennsylvania law allegedly provides protections for children, including the right to counsel (even if they couldn't afford it), and a legal presumption that all kids should remain with their families. As a general rule, a child shouldn't have been detained unless she posed a danger to others, their property, or herself. There are exceptions to this rule, and they were whether the child was charged with committing major felonies, like robbery, rape or murder.

There was apparently another exception -- whether or not President Judge Mark Ciavarella or Senior Judge Michael Conahan wanted to make some quick bucks.

They were subject to a higher law -- get money!

What the Luzerne County scandal has shown us is that what happens in many courts is both a business and a mystery. For millions of Americans, the law is a puzzle written in Latin, one unable to decode.

It also shows us that sometimes the criminal is sitting on the bench, wearing a black robe.

--(c) '09 maj

[* See various PA statutes, like Tit. 42 Pa. C. S. 6301 et seq. (Re: Purposes of "Juvenile Act": To preserve the unity of the family whenever possible or to provide another alternative permanent family when the unity of the family cannot be maintained.) ; Tit. 42 Pa. C. S 6337: (Re: 'Right to Counsel': (....{A} party is entitled to representation by legal counsel at all stages of any proceedings under this chapter and if he is without financial resources or otherwise unable to employ counsel, to have the court provide counsel for him. If a party appears without counsel the court shall ascertain whether he knows of his right thereto and be provided with counsel by the court if applicable. Counsel must be provided for a child unless his parent, guardian, or custodian is present in court and affirmatively waive it....)]


The Power of Truth is Final -- Free Mumia!

Audio of most of Mumia's essays are at:

Mumia Abu-Jamal's new book -- JAILHOUSE LAWYERS: PRISONERS DEFENDING PRISONERS V. THE USA, featuring an introduction by Angela Y. Davis -- will be released soon!
It will be available from City Lights Books at a 30% discount weeks before you can get it at any other bookstore, or from Amazon.

Sign up for an email alert and when the book becomes available for sale you'll receive an email letting you know:

In support of Mumia and the publication of JAILHOUSE LAWYERS, organizations around the country will be holding "More Than a Book Party" events on or around Mumia's birthday, April 24, 2009.

If you are planning to organize an event or would like to order in bulk, you can also receive a 45% discount on any bulk orders of 20 copies or more. The book retails for $16.95, for orders of 20 copies or more the discounted price would be $9.32 per book, plus shipping and handling. Prepayment would be required and books are nonreturnable. If you or your organization would like to place a bulk order, please contact Stacey Lewis at 415.362.1901 or

Let's use the opportunity of the publication of this brilliant, moving, vintage Mumia book to build the momentum for his case, to raise the money we desperately need in these challenging economic times, to get the word out – to produce literature, flyers, posters, videos, DVD's; to send organizers out to help build new chapters and strengthen old ones, TO GET THE PEOPLE OUT IN THE STREETS … all the work that we must do in order to FREE MUMIA as he faces LIFE IN PRISON WITHOUT PAROLE OR EXECUTION!

Please make a contribution to help free Mumia. Donations to the grassroots work will go to both INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL and the FREE MUMIA ABU-JAMAL COALITION (NYC).


Please mail donations/ checks to:
NY 10030

215 476-8812

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370


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