Incarceration Nation

Stunning Turn of Events has Hope for Mumia’s Freedom Rising

Adapted From an Article By Noelle Hanrahan at

Shortly after the discovery of six previously unreleased boxes of files and other materials from Mumia Abu-Jamal’s original 1982 trial, the Philadelphia District Attorney has revealed that the storage unit contained an additional 100-plus boxes. These boxes have not yet been inventoried and could contain key evidence in many other cases.

Mumia’s attorneys have access to the first set of six boxes, but there has been no report, yet, on what evidence has been found and whether it can be used to argue for a new trial. 

At the same time the District Attorney was informing the court of this serious prosecutorial misconduct, they also filed a notice to appeal Judge Leon Tucker’s late December order reinstating Mumia’s direct appeals before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Remember, this order was the very first time in 37 years that a Philadelphia judge had granted Mumia relief. The order District Attorney Larry Krasner is trying to block, is literally a path to freedom that would allow Mumia to reopen his direct state appeals. Krasner’s reason: This ruling opens the door for relief—not just for Mumia, but hundreds of others. To quote the DA’s press statement of January 30, 2019, there will be “sweeping and, in our view, problematic, implications for a large volume of cases” if relief is granted for Mumia Abu-Jamal. In later interviews Krassner said that Mumia’s case is “complex and nuanced,” in an effort to justify his delaying action—appealing Tucker’s ruling—which will add years onto Mumia’s appeals process. The “complexity” Krasner cites must come from the fact that to indict, convict, frame up, sentence and keep incarcerated for over 37 years an innocent man and deny him any fairness in the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania courts must be a complex process.

You read that right. If Tucker’s ruling that Castille was fundamentally biased in violation of the Pennsylvania Judicial Canons is upheld, then, hundreds of others similarly victimized by Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ronald Castille could get relief. Ok, so why is Krasner appealing? Justice requires that the status quo is rocked. And guess what, Larry Krasner? Ronald Castille, good friend of the Fraternal Order of Police, is part of the problem. You may have cozied up to him, and put him on your transition advisory board, but Lord have mercy, he is part of the problem.

This follows in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court condemnation of Castille and the Pennsylvania Court system for a fundamental violation of a defendant’s due process rights. Ron Castille was determined in all of his cases to be the prosecutor, the judge, and then if allowed, the executioner. His exact words, which are echoed throughout the Pennsylvania judiciary were “I know I could be fair.” Sure.

Now why is Mumia’s case so important? “Philadelphia is up south.” It is ground zero for over-incarceration and injustice. In Philadelphia, Mumia Abu-Jamal’s case is the proverbial “third rail.” If he gets relief—it is a whole new ballgame. Power will have fundamentally shifted. Securing his freedom will involve revealing and exposing decades of police, prosecutorial, and judicial corruption.

That is exactly what is at stake. Here is the current context: 

Larry Krasner, a civil rights attorney, a big “L” liberal, was popularly elected to be District Attorney in a landslide, and took office in early 2018. His mandate—change the culture of injustice in Philadelphia. 

The Philadelphia Police force, 6600 members strong, has grown fat on decades of brutality and corruption. This is still Frank Rizzo’s department. Day in and day out, scandal after scandal, appear on the front pages of the Philadelphia newspapers. It is a predominantly white police force acting as an occupying army. The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge Five see every reform, every plea for justice, as threatening “business as usual.” John McNesby President of Lodge Five would be a laughable character if he wasn’t so brutally dangerous. 

Frankly, the Common Pleas Court Judges are no different. While fewer in number and of a different class, they are also desperate to maintain “business as usual” at the Juanita Kidd Criminal Justice Center. They are completely “comfortable” with the system designed to use poor bodies as fuel. It is shocking how judges and lawyers in that building justify this deeply disturbing system of grinding punishment that is routinely rocked by police and prosecutorial scandals. Did it really take rap artist Meek Mill’s victimization for the world to see what it is like on the ground in Philadelphia? And have you noticed that nothing has changed, Meek is still chained to the probation system. 

“It is especially important for those who have offered critical support of Krasner and positive changes he has made to speak out against this. We cannot be silent when a self-styled “progressive” sides with the reactionary and racist fraternal order of police to continue an ignoble and corrupt frame-up. That his office has implemented many positive changes makes it all the more important that he hears loud and clear that this maneuver is unacceptable. Free Mumia. This is not over by a long shot. It will not be until he is free.” —Abolitionist Law Center Attorney, Bret Grote.

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!

Email District Attorney Krasner at

Write to him at:

Lawrence E. Krasner, District Attorney

District Attorney’s Office

Three South Penn Square

Philadelphia, PA 19107-3499