Every month for the past several years members of ATAC (Avenge The Ancestors Coalition) have been receiving updated reports - mostly heart rendering and aggravating - about Mumia's health and the recalcitrance on the part of the penal system in Pennsylvania to give him the proper treatment due any human being. Letter, petitions, court hearings and appeal after appeal after appeal has been presented. This, however, is the first time in a long time that actual good news has been reported. Kudos to sister PAM AFRICA and the other stalwart supporters for their tireless efforts in helping Mumia receive the attention and medical assistance he deserves.
|Mumia before the ravages of Hepatitis C|
Mumia Wins Key Hepatitis Court Victory
By Jeff Mackler
By Jeff Mackler
“It’s a Knock Out Punch,” says Mumia.
“We did something that’s never been done before,” says Pam Africa, Chair, International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
On January 3, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Mariani granted innocent political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal's motion for a preliminary injunction ordering the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) within 14 days to have Mumia examined by a prison doctor to determine one issue, – whether the administration of the life-saving anti-viral Hepatits C medication, sofobuvir, would do harm to Mumia. This formality is then to be followed within seven days by the administration of the very medication that Mumia has been fighting for since he filed his first lawsuit demanding treatment in May, 2015.
The Judge's order affirmed that Mumia has Hepatitis C, a life-threatening liver disease, and needs immediate treatment. The denial of such treatment, wrote Mariani, represents a violation of Mumia's rights under the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment prohibiting “cruel and usual punishment." The Judge's order overturned a lower court decision on the same matter. Judge Mariani rulings were the first in U.S. history where a state's medical protocols for prisoner treatment were overruled.
Mumia was represented jointly by attorneys Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center and independent attorney Robert Boyle. While the judge's decision applies only to Mumia, Boyle noted that it is bound to effect the class action lawsuits now in progress wherein some 9,000 other Pennsylvania prisoners with Hepatitis C in a class action suit filed by the Abolitionist Law Center have sought the same relief.
Boyle added that the DOC has 30 days to appeal Judge Mariani decision. Should Mariani refuse to grant a DOC request for a stay of his order for the purpose of filing an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the DOC may then proceed directly to the Third Circuit.
Boyle cautioned via a January 4 conference call presentation to some 30 key national Mumia activists that while "the law is on our side," the ongoing and dangerous progression of Mumia's illness notwithstanding, past history has demonstrated that in Mumia's case at least, the law is sometimes violated with impunity – a reference to the infamous "Mumia exception" wherein U.S. courts for decades have routinely departed from standard legal principles and practices to thwart Mumia's fundamental legal rights. A mountain of evidence of innocence in Mumia's case has been repeatedly excluded from the record by a racist criminal "justice" system intent of punishing one of the nation's most outspoken and courageous fighters for the rights of all humanity. Indeed, Mumia’s first 1982 trial was presided over by the infamous “hanging” Judge Albert Sabo, who in his antechambers prior to entering the courtroom, in the presence of another judge and a court reporter stated, “Yeah, and I’m going to help ‘em fry the n****r.” Nevertheless, optimistic as always, Mumia recorded a statement of thanks to his supporters that declared Judge Mariani's decision a "Knock Out Punch" won by all his supporters.
The DOC's formal defense of its refusal to administer Mumia the life-saving medication included its cruel, brutal and inhuman argument that should Mumia prevail the cost of his treatment as well as the treatment of some 9,000 other Pennsylvania prisoners with the same Hep C virus would be an estimated $800 million. Indeed, if the Third Circuit rules in Mumia's favor, since the latter's jurisdiction includes New Jersey and Delaware as well as Pennsylvania, the "cost" could be even higher.
Mumia's victory perhaps inadvertently exposed one of the nation's most corrupt and profitable industries, the pharmaceutical business engaged in the production and sale of medicines sold the world over. With regard to the 2013 discovery of sofobuvir, for example, the medicine that is estimated to have close to a 95 percent cure rate for Hep C patients, the wholesale acquisition cost to a hospital for the standard 12-week course of treatment for single patient is $84,000 while the estimated production cost is $68 to $136. If ever there was an example of a degenerate social system whose institutions would argue in court that $68 is too high a price to pay for a human life, the U.S. healthcare system and the nation itself would stand out in bold relief.
Nevertheless, Judge Mariani rejected Pennsylvania's financial cost arguments. His decision also provided substantial reasons why a possible DOC request for a stay of his order would be inappropriate, indicating that Hep C prisoners are in a state of constant deterioration that requires prompt treatment as opposed to a steady medical state wherein a delay would not impact their fundamental condition.
Attorney Robert Boyle, who successfully fought for and won the release of political prisoner Lynne Stewart three years ago, expressed concern that Mumia supporters continue their mobilizations aimed at winning broad support for Mumia’s immediate treatment and for his freedom in future litigation. Boyle pointed to new legal avenues now open to Mumia to seek a new trial based on a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that challenged a death penalty verdict based on the fact that a state district attorney participated in a prisoner’s prosecution and later, after being promoted to the position of state Supreme Court justice, in deliberations regarding the prisoner’s appeal. Ironically, this U.S. Supreme Court decision concerned Judge Ronald Castillo, who was both Mumia’s prosecutor and later judge.
If the medical protocol precedent set by Judge Mariani is upheld, the result could be enormously beneficial to Hep C patients throughout the nation's racist prison-industrial complex, that ranks first in the world in the number and percentage of its population in prison and/or under the jurisdiction of the criminal "justice" system.
Mumia supporters are urged to call the phone numbers below and contact the DOC via email to demand that the Department of Corrections Secretary, John Wetzel, and the State of Pennsylvania do not appeal Judge Mariani's decision and do not further delay the administration of the life-saving anti-viral medical treatment to Mumia.
John Wetzel's office: 717-728-2573
DOC office: 717-728-4109
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!
Jeff Mackler is the director of the Northern California-based Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org