“Cracks in the Abode of Death”
by Mumia Abu-Jamal
Few people really know the nature of death rows. It is used as a political prop by politicians and is thus a stepping stone to their gateway of power. But Death Row is really far more than that. It is a place where men and women and until recently even juveniles were sent to live and die in aching loneliness and despair.
That’s because Death Row was specifically designed to isolate people physically and psychologically. On Death Row American law reconstructed a caste of the untouchables, where no one was allowed to touch you. Not a child, not a parent, not even one’s very spouse.
But that’s not all. You were even isolated from other people on Death Row! You were in solitary confinement locked in a cell, alone for 23 hours a day – until you were executed or left Death Row. Many, perhaps most men spent decades under such conditions. Why? Because the state. by creating such extreme conditions, sought to make people kind of living dead. So broken, that actual death will be but a relief.
That fever seems to be breaking at least in Pennsylvania. Here, today, is a much smaller Death Row where the number has fallen to around a hundred, and men spend over eight hours a day out of their cells. They have contact visits. Now the state will no longer sign death warrants, and is seeking the abolition of the death penalty. The tide seems to have turned, and Death Row is no longer the Death Row of cruel memory.
With love not phear…this is Mumia Abu-Jamal
These commentaries are recorded and distributed by Prison Radio.
Change Links note: The tide has turned on the death penalty in Pennsylvania and nationally thanks in no small part to the struggle to save and free Mumia Abu-Jamal. The most recent victory on this front is the formal legislative abolition of the death penalty in Washington state.