Behind Bars

‘June’ Jumps Away

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

Several months ago, we reported on the suicide of Bill Tilley, a long time denizen of Death Row.

Well, he was not alone.

On Tuesday, September 1, around 8:20 in the morning, Jose ‘June’ Pagan was found hanging in his cell on Death Row at Graterford Prison in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

The news sent shock all along the Row, especially among men who knew him, for few sensed that this was coming.

June was known as an upbeat, forward thinking man, who was unfairly imprisoned. He was also known for his excellent handball skills, as well as his remarkable culinary abilities. He made a cheesy, meaty concoction (which he called a “Chi-Chi”) that was a molten-hot belly buster.

He was sent to Death Row in 1992 after being sentenced to death for being part of a group of young men who allegedly raided, robbed and slew a couple in a North Philadelphia row home, a reported drug house.

The funny thing is, June was days away from leaving Death Row; having taken a deal that would’ve commuted his death sentence to a life sentence. After 17 years of the soul eating isolation of Death Row, he was tired, according to one source.

But perhaps the years had worn him down more than he knew.

He sent his property home, borrowed coffee from his next-cell neighbor, and the next morning, departed this life by his own hand.

Jose ‘June’ Pagan was 42., September 4, 2009