(col. writ. 4/10/20)  ©2020 by Mumia Abu-Jamal


For nearly a month now, all prisoners in PA State prisons, over 40 thousand men and women, have been locked down.

What does locked down mean?


When I was on Death Row, all of us were locked down, as the saying went “23 & 1”: or for twenty-three hours a day, with one hour for out-of-cell exercise – in a cage.  After over a decade, it went to “22 & 2”.

But this lock-down is occasioned by the coronavirus, so meals in the chow hall, visits with family and friends, religious services, educational classes, prison jobs – all are offline.

In the rare occasion a prisoner leaves the cell, he (or she) wears a paper or cloth face mask. Several states (like New Jersey, for example) have followed suit.

And then there are county prisons, where the sheer overcrowding threatens chaos. In Philadelphia, county prisons have an estimated 18 prisoners with the virus. Then comes Cook County, Illinois, where over 400 men have tested positive for CoVid 19.

For some men and women, being in prison or county jail isn’t just something that resembles Death Row; for them, it will be a new Death Row, for that jail cell will be the place they die.

Mass incarceration is so much a part of American life, that the opposite idea, decarceration, begins to sound crazy.

But, the truth is, it wasn’t always this way. This scourge is the product of Neo-liberal politics.


And if neo-liberalism caused the problem, how can it ever solve the problem?


Ed. Note: A prison guard in PA falsely reported that Mumia was suffering from COVID-19. Another lie, like those told by Trump. Write to him: SMART Communications/PA DOC, Mumia Abu Jamal, #AM-8335, SCI Mahanoy, PO Box 33028, St. Petersburgh FL 33733.


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