Incarceration Nation

Cracks in the Abode of Death

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

Few people really know the nature of death rows. It is used as a political prop by politicians and is thus a steppingstone to their gateway of power. But death row is really far more than that. It is a place where men and women, and until recently even juveniles, were sent to live and die in aching loneliness and despair.

That’s because death row was specifically designed to isolate people physically and psychologically. On death row American law reconstructed a cast of the untouchables where no one was allowed to touch you. Not a child, not a parent, not even one’s very spouse.

But that’s not all. You were even isolated from other people on death row! You were in solitary confinement locked in a cell, alone for 23 hours a day—until you were executed or left death row. Many, perhaps most men spent decades under such conditions. Why? Because the state by creating such extreme conditions sought to make people kind of the living dead—so broken, that actual death will be but a relief.

That fever seems to be breaking, at least in Pennsylvania. Here, today, is a much smaller death row where the number has fallen to around a hundred, and men spend over eight hours a day out of their cells. They have contact visits. Now the state will no longer sign death warrants and is seeking the abolition of the death penalty. The tide seems to have turned, and death row is no longer the death row of cruel memory.

With love not phear…this is Mumia Abu-Jamal

Prison Radio, April 18, 2023

Write to Mumia at:

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Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM-8335

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P.O. Box 33028

St. Petersburg, FL 33733