[Pnews] A Slow Death for Mumia Abu-Jamal and Thousands of Prisoners in America

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Apr 16 10:35:23 EDT 2015


    A Slow Death for Mumia Abu-Jamal and Thousands of Prisoners in America

By Johanna Fernandez 
<http://www.globalresearch.ca/author/johanna-fernandez> and Heidi 
Boghosian <http://www.globalresearch.ca/author/heidi-boghosian>
Global Research, April 16, 2015
*http://www.globalresearch.ca/a-slow-death-for-mumia-abu-jamal-and-thousands-of-prisoners-in-america/5443024*

/Political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal nearly died – and remains in grave 
danger – from a diabetic condition that the Pennsylvania prison system 
failed to diagnose in his decades behind bars. He is not alone. “The 
Bureau of Justice reported some 40% of prisoners and jail inmates in 
2011-2012 reporting chronic medical condition such as asthma, cancer, 
heart disease, high blood pressure—and diabetes.”/

“Mumia’s condition highlights the systemic neglect and abuse of 
prisoners in our nation’s vast and ever growing system of mass 
incarceration.”

What does it mean for hundreds of thousands of prisoners in the United 
States when the world’s most famous prisoner faces possible death from 
medical neglect in a Pennsylvania prison? Often called the “Voice of the 
Voiceless” for his countless publications and broadcasts revealing the 
injustices of the criminal justice system, Mumia Abu-Jamal has seen his 
health slip away in a matter of months. Thousands of supporters 
worldwide and frequent visitors could not stop the burning black lesions 
that covered his entire body or the profound fatigue that, since 
January, has sucked him into trance-like sleeps, or guards who punished 
him with denial of calls, visitors and yard for sleeping through morning 
alarms and the morning count. What does it say that on March 30, Mumia 
Abu-Jamal fell unconscious with uncontrolled—and undiagnosed—diabetes?

Mumia’s condition highlights the systemic neglect and abuse of prisoners 
in our nation’s vast and ever growing system of mass incarceration. A 
daily diet high in carbohydrates, salt and sugar has left an estimated 
80 thousand suffering from diabetes. Compounding the inadequate 
nutrition is the sub-par medical care provided by a vast for-profit 
provider that reaps some $1.5 billion a year in profits from prison 
healthcare contracts. Using an HMO model that puts cost-cutting above 
all, Corizon Correctional Healthcare has paid millions in legal 
settlements over inadequate or bungled treatment. Not surprisingly, the 
Bureau of Justice reported some 40% of prisoners and jail inmates in 
2011-2012 reporting chronic medical condition such as asthma, cancer, 
heart disease, high blood pressure—and diabetes.

For three days, Mumia received treatment at the ICU of a nearby medical 
clinic. His blood sugar and sodium level counts were catastrophically 
high at 779 and 168, respectively. The last time Mumia was hospitalized 
was on December 9, 1981, the night of the killing of Officer Daniel 
Faulkner, for which Mumia was convicted in a trial fraught with 
constitutional violations. That same night Mumia was shot and beaten 
within an inch of his life by police. When he was finally taken to the 
hospital in a paddy wagon, he was thrown by police onto the floor of the 
emergency room entrance. After surgery, he woke to a police officer 
stomping on his urine bag.

Mumia now languishes in the prison infirmary facing new assaults – the  
cut-rate, sub-par care and inadequate nutrition that contributed to his 
earlier health decline and crisis.  With a still abnormally high glucose 
level, hard crusted skin covering his body, and a dramatic weight lost 
of over 50 pounds, he is in dire need of the attention of specialists in 
both endocrinology and dermatology, and healthful food.

As Mumia’s health deteriorates, he would want us to draw attention not 
only to his plight but the plight of all this nation’s prisoners who 
receive a malnourishing diet and sub-standard health care at the hands 
of rapacious private contractors. The race and class dimensions of this 
crisis disprove the notion that race doesn’t matter in the age of a 
black president. The majority of U.S. prisoners are African American and 
Latino males in their childbearing years, imprisoned in a system that 
regularly violates their fundamental human rights and ravages their 
health. Mumia would want us to use his suffering to demonstrate 
that those relegated to the lowest strata of our society—imprisoned 
black, brown, and poor—suffer not only their sentences but illness and 
death by neglect.

/*Heidi Boghosian* is a lawyer in New York City./

/*Johanna Fernandez* is Assistant Professor of History at Baruch College./

-- 
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863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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