“Kempis ‘Ghani’ Songster of @amistadlaw giving the keynote @PhillyFIGHT ‘Beyond The Walls’ Ghani was sentenced to die in prison as a kid. Now he’s home working for community healing, trans-formative justice. If we set our sights high much is possible. We can bring many others home”
Yesterday Abolitionist attorney Bret Grote handled oral arguments in the Pennsylvania Superior Court in Com. v. Avis Lee. The case will determine whether Lifers over 18 years old will have the opportunity to benefit from the Supreme Court ruling Miller v. Alabama. Bret crushed it! The state was reduced to arguing jurisdiction not merits. Although its possible the court will rule against us on the issue of whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case, the fact is we won the argument and this issue has gained strength and more momentum. Over a hundred family members of Lifers attended the hearing, packing the courtroom. The halls were standing room only. The sheriff’s shut down the elevators because the floor was packed to capacity. CADBI members represented their loved ones. This is what movement looks like. We ain’t hoing nowhere! The hearing will be aired on Pennsylvania News Cable (PNC) on November 1st. Meanwhile read the article by Samantha Melmad published 10/23 in the Philadelphia Inquire.
Mike Africa FREED!!!
40 years and finally together! Today Move 9 Political Prisoner Mike Africa was freed and reunited with his wife, fellow Move 9 Political prisoner Debbie Africa. I cannot imagine what it is like for them to be together. It was an honor to have worked on his case and also Debbie’s case. Ghani, Mike Africa, me and Debbie Africa pictured together. One year ago we were all in prison. Today we are free.
Today South Philly members of CADBI (and a few others) had an excellent meeting with the staff at Senator Larry Farnese‘s office. We were happy to learn that the Senator has committed to sign on to Pass PA Senate Bill 942, a bill which would grant deserving lifers the ability to go before the parole board. We thank the Senator for his leadership and commitment to justice.
As well we were able to speak about SB 293, a bill forwarded by Senator Daylin Leach which claims to address the issue of accomplices convicted under the 2nd Degree felony murder rule. Unfortunately the language in that bill currently would exclude accomplices that ‘knowingly or recklessly disregarded the risk that the death of another human being would occur as a result of their participation in the perpetration of the felony.’ What this practically means is that if an accomplice knew that their co-defendant had a gun or could have reasonably ascertained that their was some risk that someone might lose their life as a result of the crime they would still get a Life W/O Parole sentence. This is the bulk of 2nd Degree felony murder convictions. Many mothers and family members of people in CADBI fit these criteria and we are urging Senator Leach to change the current wording of the bill so that their loved ones might come home and not die in prison. If a bill claims to end the felony murder rule it should do just that.
All in all it was a positive day. Were looking forward to our big October 2nd Day of Action to End Death By Incarceration in Harrisburg and taking our message to legislators across PA.
EPISODE 27: SEAN DAMON
Activist and paralegal Sean Damon joins episode 27 of Beyond Prisons.
Sean is a legal worker and organizer with twenty years of experience in union, community and social movement organizing.
He works for Amistad Law Project, a West Philadelphia-based public interest law center focused on the human rights of incarcerated people. He is also a co-founding member of the Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration.
Follow Sean on Twitter: @seanwestwispy
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CADBI rallied in solidarity with Shut Down Berks Coalition, who are calling on Governor Tom Wolf to shutdown Berks County Family Detention Center
“Amistad Law Project supports #abolishICE in Philadelphia.”