Pa. inmate speaks out on 'obscene celebrity' law
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has signed into law a bill that critics say tramples the free speech rights of prisoners
PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has signed into law a bill that critics say tramples the free speech rights of prisoners.
The "Revictimization Relief Act" authorizes the censoring of public addresses of prisoners or former offenders if judges agree that allowing them to speak would cause "mental anguish" to the victim. The measure was introduced after one of the state’s most famous prisoners, journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, delivered a pretaped commencement address for graduating students at Vermont’s Goddard College earlier this month.
The speech was opposed by the widow of Daniel Faulkner, the police officer who Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has criticized the new measure, calling it "overbroad and vague," and unable to "pass constitutional muster under the First Amendment."
Speaking to us from prison, Abu-Jamal says that "by signing that bill into law, [Gov. Corbett] has violated both of his oaths as governor and as an attorney."