April 5, 2009
Mumia Abu-Jamal's 27 years on Death Row for a murder he did not commit would have turned almost anyone else into an embittered, defeated man. Instead, he has remained what he always was, "the voice of the voiceless," as he demonstrates yet again in his most recent book, Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A. (City Lights Books, 2009.)
by J. Patrick O'Connor
Through hundreds of essays, radio commentaries and now six well-written, meticulously researched books, he has defied the walls that encase him to speak out against oppression. His voice his heard weekly throughout the United States on Pacifica Radio and his writings are read and admired throughout much of the world. From the bowels of Death Row, where 3,600 others languish in the United States, Abu-Jamal presses on for justice, day after day, year after year.
Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A. opens a tightly shut door into the operations of the U.S. penal system by chronicling the exploits of dozens of jailhouse lawyers – both men and women – who have fought the injustices the courts and the prisons have dealt them and their fellow prisoners. Their accomplishments, against all odds, have been incredible. Their story is a story never before told.
For the vast majority of the 2.3 million prisoners in the United States and for Abu-Jamal himself, the overriding, inescapable reality about the U.S. justice system is that the law is only what a judge says it is.