The Silencing Act and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/07/2015
Year Published: 2015
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21221
The Revictimization Relief Act, which my lawyers at the Pennsylvania ACLU have appropriately dubbed the "Silencing Act," allows victims of personal injury crimes (and family members or prosecutors acting on their behalf) to petition a judge to stop criminal offenders from speaking or acting if their speech or action "perpetuates the continuing effect of" that crime, including by causing "mental anguish."
The House Judiciary Committee's lawyer made it clear that "the court would have broad power to stop a third party who is the vessel of that [offender] conduct or speech from delivering it or publishing that information." Indeed, a third party - a newspaper publishing a prisoner's comments or Prison Radio recording and transporting Abu-Jamal's commentary to Goddard College - is necessary to make public the comments of an incarcerated person.
It could make prisoners think twice before contacting me, or bar them from doing so. As a reporter, I need prisoner sources to investigate correctional-officer abuse, the wrongful conviction of innocent people, and unjust sentencing laws. Even more Orwellian, it could allow someone to petition a judge to stop me or my newspaper from publishing work that is based on interviews with criminal offenders.