Gov. Tom Corbett officially signed the "RevictimizationRelief Act" today, leading to outcry from activists and Mumia Abu-Jamal, who say the bill is unconstitutionally vague.
"I welcome Governor Corbett’s signature on an unconstitutional bill that proves that the government of Pennsylvania, the executive and the legislature, don’t give one wit about their own constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, nor the United States Constitution. I welcome that because it proves that they are the outlaws," said Mumia Abu-Jamal in a statement recorded Oct. 17 and broadcast onPrisonRadio.org.
The RevictimizationRelief Act passed the state legislature after Abu-Jamal, incarcerated since 1982 for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, made a pre-recorded commencement address that was played for graduates of Goddard College in Vermont earlier this month.
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The law states that victims of a crime can file a civil action to stop actions by an offender that create "severe mental anguish."
"A convicted murderer is still traumatizing the victim’s family and it needs to stop. We need to ensure this doesn’t happen to any other victim or their family," wrote Rep. Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery County) in a co-sponsorship memo regarding the bill, referring to Abu-Jamal.
"Officer Faulkner’s wife Maureen was left a widow by Abu-Jamal. But not only did Maureen lose her husband and the life she hoped to lead with him, Maureen also since has been revictimized again and again by Abu-Jamal’s ongoing acts. It is time to put a stop to this, not only for Maureen, but for all victims of personal crimes," Rep. Verebwrote.
Gov. Corbett signed the law today.
“Some victims of terrible crimes will be in a ‘state of mental anguish’ as long as the person who did it to them is alive and breathing. Does ‘breathing’ qualify as ‘conduct' that's now subject to court action?” said Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center in
Abu-Jamal has become a celebrity since being incarcerated. He has previously given commencement speeches at Evergreen College and Antioch College, is the subject of several documentaries and has written numerous books.
“Having failed to kill Mumia on the street in 1981, and having failed to execute him during his over 30 years on death row, the FOP and the government of Pennsylvania continues to try to silence him, this time by extinguishing his speech,” said Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio in a statement.
At this time no civil action has been filed under the new law against Abu-Jamal.