[Ppnews] Whatever happened to... Jamil Al-Amin in 'Supermax'
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Oct 22 11:26:32 EDT 2007
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ...
Convicted murderer Al-Amin in 'Supermax'
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 10/21/07
Early one morning this summer at a southeast
Georgia prison, guards told Jamil Abdullah
Al-Amin to pack up and get ready to leave.
Al-Amin, the former 1960s militant once named H.
Rap Brown now serving a life sentence for killing
a sheriff's deputy, was soon on a cross-country
journey to where he now resides: Supermax, the
nation's most secure prison in Florence, Colo.
The federal prison is said to be reserved for the
worst of the worst. It also houses Centennial
Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph, Oklahoma City
bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols and al-Qaida
terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui. All are locked in
solitary confinement inside their cells and
allowed outside only one hour a day.
Al-Amin's lawyers say the transfer was
undeserved. "Neither the state nor the feds are
talking to us about the sudden snatching of Mr.
Al-Amin into the most draconian conditions of
confinement in the United States," Atlanta lawyer Linda Sheffield said.
In August, the Department of Corrections
disclosed Al-Amin was being transferred to
federal custody from Georgia State Prison in
Reidsville, but it did not reveal he was moved
more than 1,500 miles away to Supermax. The
department said Al-Amin was a "high-profile"
inmate and supervision of him in Reidsville was
beyond what the prison could provide.
Last week, corrections spokesman Paul Czachowski
declined to give the reasons for Al-Amin's
transfer. "For security reasons, I can't comment," he said.
A. Stephens Clay, one of Al-Amin's lawyers, said
that during a recent phone conversation, Al-Amin
was calm, thoughtful and attentive.
"But I don't see that he has done anything to
warrant this treatment," said Clay, who
represents Al-Amin in a case against the state
prison system. "There's nothing in this man's
history as a prisoner that indicates he should be
more severely punished than other prisoners, but that's what's happening."
In March 2005, Al-Amin filed a handwritten
lawsuit alleging that mail from his wife, who is
an attorney, was improperly opened by prison
officials. A federal judge in Statesboro ruled in
Al-Amin's favor on this claim. The state appealed
to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
Atlanta, which then appointed Clay to represent Al-Amin.
Separately, Al-Amin is challenging his conviction
through a civil lawsuit filed in Tattnall County,
home to the state prison in Reidsville. In this
case, for the first time, Al-Amin took the
witness stand and denied having anything to do
with the shooting of Fulton County sheriff's
deputies Ricky Kinchen and Aldranon English.
On March 16, 2000, Kinchen and English went to
Al-Amin's home in Atlanta's West End to serve him
an arrest warrant for missing a court date.
According to testimony, Al-Amin opened fire,
killing Kinchen and wounding English, who later
identified Al-Amin as the shooter.
Al-Amin was arrested in White Hall, Ala., four
days after the shooting. Nearby, federal agents
found Al-Amin's bullet-riddled Mercedes and two
weapons that ballistics tests later tied to the West End shooting.
Fulton prosecutors sought the death penalty
against Al-Amin, but a jury sentenced him to life in prison without parole.
During a court hearing in February, Al-Amin
testified he did not fire the shots. He said on
the day of the shootings he returned from eating
with his family at Red Lobster, was late for
prayers and headed to his mosque. On the way, he
testified, he heard gunshots, ducked down low and then heard more shots.
Al-Amin testified he returned to his Mercedes and
drove off, only to realize the car had been hit
with bullets when the back window collapsed. This
made him wonder if teenagers with whom he had a
confrontation earlier in the day had come back
looking for him, he said, adding that he got in
his car and drove off. "I thought maybe it was
some kind of retaliation," he testified. "I'm
thinking...you know, really it was directed at me."
Instead of driving home, he said, he drove to
Alabama, calling his wife on the way to say he
was okay. He testified he found out the next day
on television that Kinchen and English had been
shot and also said he soon learned there were warrants out for his arrest.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said
in a statement that Al-Amin is getting what he deserves.
"The crimes that he committed against deputies
Ricky Kinchen and Aldranon English will never be
forgotten by this community," Howard said. "We
believe his present incarceration is at minimum
appropriate for the harm he has caused."
"Whatever happened to ..." is a weekly feature
catching up with people in the news. Are you
wondering about the fate or fortune of former
newsmakers? Tell us who and e-mail
dgibson at ajc.com. Please put "whatever happened to" in the reference line.
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