Mumia Speech Prompts Bill to Prevent “Revictimizing”

State officials don't want to see convict giving college graduation speeches again.

The weekend commencement address at Goddard College by Mumia Abu-Jamal — still imprisoned for life for shooting Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981 — has sparked action on a new bill that would let crime survivors sue convicts for seeking publicity.

The bill, which passed the House Judiciary Committee Monday by a unanimous vote, lets victims of personal injury crimes — or the D.A. in the county where the crime took place — sue a convict for “conduct which perpetuates the continuing effect of the crime on the victim” including “conduct which causes a temporary or permanent state of mental anguish.”

That might seem broad for First Amendment jurisprudence, but the bill has wide backing.

Tom Corbett: “To me, to Philadelphians, Abu-Jamal is a convicted murderer who has conned naïve individuals from Hollywood to Paris into believing that he is somehow a political prisoner for shooting a police officer in the head. That’s why I have no hesitancy in endorsing a change in our crime victims act that provides for injunctive relief on behalf of the victims of violent crime.”

Maureen Faulkner, Daniel Faulkner’s widow: “My family and I have been forced to endure the emotionally painful and degrading avalanche of public speaking done by the remorseless killer who snuffed out the promise of life of our beloved Danny. The time has come to put an end to the desecration of free speech laws by Mumia and anyone else in the Pennsylvania state system who has violently taken the life of another.”

Pa. Rep. John Vereb: “We hope the actual people who sit in prison recognize that they themselves are there to heal, not tear the scabs off the wounds of our victims some 30 years later. It is now time for the voice of victims to be louder than the cowards who sit behind concrete and steel.”