Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has been on death row for decades following his conviction for the 1981 shooting death of a Philadelphia police officer, has been moved into general prison population after his death sentence was overturned. For decades, the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, born Wesley Cook, has been a cause célèbre for death-penalty opponents.
A federal appeals court ruled this past fall the trial judge’s instructions to Abu-Jamal’s trial jury were unfairly weighted toward execution, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer
, and the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the appeals court’s ruling.
Abu-Jamal is now in general population at the Mahanoy facility in Frackville, Pa. However, he was on death row in Waynesburg’s Green State Prison for decades before that, remaining in solitary confinement often for 23 hours a day.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams in December, following the Supreme Court ruling, said he would not seek a new death penalty hearing, and agreed on a life sentence instead for Abu-Jamal, who has left death row for Mahanoy’s medium-security facility.
“This is a very important moment for him, his family, and all of his supporters. We are all grateful for the roles played by so many in getting him off death row after so very long,” said Judith L. Ritter, a law professor and director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at Widener University who represented Abu-Jamal in recent appeals.
In addition, Abu-Jamal’s supporters through websites and social networks applauded his move to general population.
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