A contingent of Mumia Abu-Jamal supporters packed into midtown Manhattan’s All Souls Unitarian Church (1157 Lexington Ave.) on the Friday evening of Sept. 11 to address his medical condition, as well as the medical neglect and maltreatment he’s enduring.
Panelists included Johanna Fernandez, Campaign to Bring Mumia Home; Bob Boyle, a Mumia attorney; Pam Africa, International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia; and several more activists.
“In 2012, the Bureau of Justice determined that 40 percent of prisoners in the U.S. have chronic medical conditions, including asthma, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes,” revealed Fernandez. “Another big problem is hepatitis C … in Pennsylvania, there are 10,000 prisoners suffering from it.”
Additionally, the legal, medical and political updates, as well as the necessary next steps, were discussed. Also touched on was “the state and federal authorities’ efforts to exploit the medical problems of incarcerated aging men and women to exacerbate their denial of care and medical mistreatment in order to purposely accelerate their deaths.”
Furthermore, it was noted that Abu-Jamal’s legal team, “in early August, had filed the demand for a very specific medical treatment plan, based on the tentative diagnosis of his medical condition, as well as the legal strategy and the medical findings.” They also “filed a lawsuit challenging the Pennsylvania prison authorities’ denial of medical care, including treatment for hepatitis C and life-threatening mismanagement of his diabetes and extremely painful skin condition.”
Just a matter of weeks earlier, several “incarcerated men in Pennysylvania filed a class-action suit against Pennsylvania’s DOC’s refusal to prescribe the hep C drugs to those who need them.”
Reports suggest that numerous incarcerated people across the country are being denied access to powerful new drugs to treat hepatitis C. Some of the drugs have been proved to have a remarkable cure rate, 90 to 95 percent. However, the 12-week treatment course costs $60,000 to $85,000, a price prison personnel say is too steep.
“Zinc sulfate is a topical cream that costs very little, but the prison is refusing to administer it,” Fernandez added. “The prison system is refusing to provide the cure in violation of the Constitution. This is an example of cruel and unusual punishment, and we are demanding that Mumia be given the hepatitis C cure that he desperately needs, as well as to the 10,000 other prisoners who also need it.”
Sept. 7, prison staff boxed up Abu-Jamal’s personal belongings from his cell while he was being treated in the prison infirmary and then threatened to relocate him in violation of prison procedures.
Abu-Jamal’s supporters contend it was in retaliation for his attorneys filing a lawsuit charging the Pennsylvania DOC with medical neglect, for failure to properly diagnose him in a timely manner and for continuously denying him adequate treatment for his ailment.
Some recent photos of various political prisoners who suffer from an assortment of debilitating medical conditions were also displayed.
A follow-up meeting was conducted Monday, Sept. 21 at the Solidarity Center (147 W. 24th St.) to discuss future plans.
Supporters are urged to contact John Wetzel, secretary of corrections, Pennsylvania, at 717-728-2573 and John Kerestes, superintendent, SCI-Mahanoy Prison, at 570-773-2158.
For more information, visit www.freemumia.com.