From Our Desk

Originally published on 3/2/2021

Dear Friend,

As you know, prisons are foreboding and inaccessible. Every day at Prison Radio we learn new handholds, brace ourselves, and continue to find ways to bring voices across the walls and into our kitchens to bridge the divide.

We are launching our spring fundraiser. Perfecting Tyranny, the third volume of the Murder Incorporated trilogy by Mumia Abu-Jamal and Stephen Vittoria, has arrived and is flying out the door.

Imagine writing your magnum opus in the dangerous and draconian conditions of Pennsylvania prisons. Mumia is still writing by hand and on a plastic typewriter — no computers are allowed. His tablet for email only allows 2,000 characters and he cannot print out messages, so he cannot save his writing on it. He breaks regulation if he has more then seven books in his cell at a time.

Communication has been made more difficult with Pennsylvania prisoners, as the prison has added the bizarre requirement that all mailed letters and cards are sent to “Smart Communications” in Florida. In a Kafkaesque sequence, any mail he gets first has to be sent to Florida, scanned, and then printed out at the prison in PA and handed to him. This convoluted chain of communication is another profit choke point that funnels money to some crony who has the “mail processing bid” for the PA DOC — as usual at the cost of the incarcerated person’s connection to the outside world.

Last year, they would not let Mumia have the hardback version of Murder Inc: Vol. 2, America’s Favorite Pastime. And, he was put on a two-week cell restriction (no calls, no visits) for not stripping his cell down to what would fit in a box under his bed. Imagine, being a leading intellectual, a major contributor to critical race theory, when you are limited to seven books — fewer books than you have personally written. Mumia is PhD at the University of California, Santa Cruz, after finishing post graduate work at the Ohio State University. Imagine writing a dissertation under these conditions. His commitment to a full intellectual life inspires us. With every breath, he shows us not only his own fortitude and brilliance, but also the beautiful resilience of the human spirit; his victories are also our victories. You, and all of the Prison Radio supporters, have been critical to Mumia’s survival.

2021 will see the release of a new book we have in development, a revolutionary Black consciousness prison study guide. 2021 will also see us working with the artists at AgitArte, who are developing an abolitionist traveling theatrical puppet show. In addition, we will be finishing a film, Accompaniment, featuring the front-line struggles and lives of elder organizers Alice and Staughton Lynd, and the movements that shaped their lives.

Please help us liberate prisoners voices and have their stories be heard. 

Donate Today. 

When We Fight, We Win!

Miranda Hanrahan & Jennifer Black
Prison Radio Staff

Urgent: Mumia’s Symptoms of COVID

Originally published on 2/27/2021

Dear Friend,

Yesterday Mumia Abu-Jamal called from his cell block at SCI Mahanoy, reaching Pam Africa, and letting all of us know that he is seriously ill. He has had difficulty breathing and chest pain, symptoms of COVID. We will continue to closely monitor his health, and provide updates. 

At a demonstration this afternoon, his grandson spoke: 

“We have to each one teach one, and we when we teach one we teach more.  They are trying to bury my grandfather… freedom is the only solution in Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case’.  They have have built careers off of trying to convict and kill Mumia Abu-Jamal.  I need Larry Krasner to do what he was elected to do, give Mumia a fair trial, and let the evidence be heard in court.  We have to shout from the roof tops.”

As a survivor of chronic hepatitis C, and medical neglect, Mumia Abu-Jamal is an elder and at a heightened risk for serious complications.  

The prison must immediately test Mumia Abu-Jamal, and it must provide him with treatment, monitoring of his oxygen levels, and hospitalization if his oxygen falls below safe levels.  

Every action matters.  It is time for our political prisoners and elders to return home to their families.

Freedom and Justice Now, 

Noelle Hanrahan, P.I., J.D. 
Co-Director Prison Radio

The Deadliest State

Originally published on 2/19/2021

Dear Friend,

PA has one of the largest populations of people sentenced to die in prison in the US — 5,467. As of January 31 2021, there are 521 people in Pennsylvania who were sentenced to death by incarceration before they even reached the age of 18. This is the largest population of juvenile lifers on the planet. Every day, the dire conditions of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections pushes them closer to the brink of destruction. “Life without parole” is intentional phrasing that diminishes the horror of the circumstance. A life without parole sentence is an agonizingly slow death sentence— it is Death by Incarceration. 

Consider supporting the Prison Radio sponsored billboard in the Let’s Get Free billboard campaign dotting PA’s highways.

COVID-19 has deeply intensified the violence and organized neglect that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has enacted on our incarcerated family— especially the elderly. Sergio Hyland informs us of Tommy Pirant’s tragic death in his latest, ‘PA’s Fretless Mishandling of COVID-19.’ The PA Department of Corrections cut Pirant’s life short. Never able to complete his commutations process, Pirant passed away from COVID on January 23rd, 2021. 

“With the elderly most at risk of succumbing to this virus, many people believe that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is turning a blind eye to the danger, hoping that the virus will finish what the government started.

In Pennsylvania, a life sentence is a death sentence. And with the aging population of prisoners steadily increasing, so too is the prison budget. This leaves many of us to wonder if the  Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and government officials are conspiring to rid themselves of costly financial liabilities.”

Pennsylvanians will not sit by idly while their community members suffer under state laws that mark them as irredeemable. Everyday, they are working on bringing lifers home.

Prison Radio joins Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration in its insistence that these practices violate human rights – that that they diminish the humanity of all of us. We join Decarcerate PA, Fight for Lifers, the Human Rights Coalition, and Right to Redemption in the campaign to end Death By Incarceration sentencing in PA. 

With your help, we can help shift the public perception on Death by Incarceration in Pennsylvania. Prison Radio is running a campaign to help upheave the social perceptions of Death by Incarceration in Pennsylvania. Help us raise funds to sponsor Let’s Get Free campaign billboards across the state, or share across social media platforms.

Listening and bearing witness is important. But by themselves they are not enough. The United States Justice system has always been consistent in its mission to police, punish, and isolate our most vulnerable community members. Because of this, our work to undermine the violence of the justice system cannot falter. Please join us.

When We Fight, We Win!

Angline Etienne
Prison Radio Staff