Prison Radio Alliance Portal

For Immediate Release: March 30, 2015 
Attn: News Desk

Prisoners and Advocacy Groups Win Right to a Trial 
On Constitutionality of the Silencing Act (PA SB508) 

This morning, Chief Judge for the federal court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Christopher Conner, will hear the cases Abu-Jamal v. Kane and Prison Legal News v. Kane in a trial that willl determine the constitutionality of PA SB508 "the Silencing Act".  Defendant PA Attorney General Kane will be hard pressed to argue the constitutionality of the Silencing Act, a censorship law targeted at Mumia Abu-Jamal and other currently and formerly incarcerated people.

Defendant Seth Williams was dismissed from the case based on his explicit disavowal of enforcing the act until a court of competent jurisdiction rules on the constitutionality of the statute. His dismissal does not hinder Plaintiffs ability to obtain the relief of invalidating this law, as a favorable ruling on the First Amendment issue against Defendant Kane will achieve the same result. Williams' disavowal of enforcement is a far cry from his political grandstanding in support of this bill's passage in the fall.

The judge has ordered that this trial will include Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction merged with a trial on the merits, meaning that if we win we will be granted a permanent injunction against the statute, and the statue will be invalidated.
“Silencing prisoners is one more way of dehumanizing them,” said Amistad Law Project Policy Director Nikki Grant. “We need the voices of the marginalized to shed light on injustice.”

The trial is set for this morning March 30 in Harrisburg, PA approximately 5 months since former Governor Corbett signed this ill-fated bill into law.
 The Abolitionist Law Center, Amistad Law Project, and the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University School of Law filed the lawsuit on Nov. 10th to stop enforcement of the law. The law firms represent Mumia Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio, Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal, Kerry “Shakaboona” Marshall, Robert L. Holbrook, Donnell Palmer, Anthony Chance, and Human Rights Coalition.

The Silencing Act, also known as 18 P.S. § 11.1304, allows the Attorney General, county District Attorneys, and victims of personal injury crimes to bring a lawsuit in civil court against the person convicted of the personal injury crime to enjoin conduct that “perpetuates the continuing effect of the crime on the victim”. The actions that could prompt a lawsuit include “conduct which causes a temporary or permanent state of mental anguish.”

“This law is unconstitutional,” said David Shapiro of MacArthur Justice Center. “The facts are on our side and the law is on our side. The Silencing Act targets a huge amount of constitutionally protected speech based on who is speaking.”

After a prerecorded commencement speech by journalist and prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal was played for graduates at Goddard College in Vermont, the Pennsylvania legislature passed and outgoing Governor Corbett signed into law the Silencing Act on October 21st, 16 days after the commencement speech.

Abu-Jamal has spent 33 years in prison, 29 of which were in solitary confinement on death row after being convicted at a 1982 trial that Amnesty International said “failed to meet minimum international standards safeguarding the fairness of legal proceedings.”

Robert L. Holbrook, who is serving a death by incarceration, life without parole, sentence he received as a child, had this to say about the law: “there are people in prison who will stop writing, stop publishing, stop speaking out because of this law.”

Bret Grote    412-654-9070
Ashley Henderson          215-310-0424
Noelle Hanrahan         415-706-5222
David Shapiro        312-503-0711

Amistad Law Project is a West Philadelphia-based public interest law center.
Our mission is to fight for the human rights of all people by providing
legal services to people incarcerated in Pennsylvania’s prisons. | @amistadlaw | 267-225-5884

The Abolitionist Law Center is a public interest law firm inspired by the struggle of political and politicized prisoners, and organized for the purpose of abolishing class and race based mass incarceration in the United States.   412-654-9070
Prison Radio has recorded Mumia and other political prisoners for over 25 years, and we are pulling out all the stops to keep these voices on the air.   415-706-5222
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"Feeding on Fear" (1:48) by Mumia Abu-Jamal

"Real Justice - Not Cowboy Justice - For Rodney Reed" (2:55) by Kevin Cooper

"I Must Repeat These Six Words" (1:07) by Kevin Cooper

"A Defined Voice" (1:55) by Herman Wallace

"Other Brothers in Angola" (1:42) by Mumia Abu-Jamal

"Denver Police Murder Jessica Hernandez" (3:10) Kerry Shakaboona Marshall

"The Dark Side of American Exceptionalism" (6:20) Kenneth Hartman

"Dallas Six" (4:25) by Kerry Shakaboona Marshall


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America has Got a Prison Problem (5:35) by Kenneth Hartman

Billy Holliday: A Profile in Excellence (1:19) by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Thousands of Black Women: A Profile in Excellence (1:07) by Mumia Abu-Jamal

William Parker: A Profile in Excellence (1:12) by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Shirley Chisholm: A Profile in Excellence (1:15) by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Huey Newton: A Profile in Excellence (1:02) by Mumia Abu-Jamal

and much more at:
Harriet Tubman: A Profile in Excellence (1:08) by Mumia Abu-Jamal

much more at:

Abu-Jamal v. Kane Update, Oral Arguments Scheduled

On February 26th, Prison Radio attorneys Bret Grote from the Abolitionist Law Center & Nikki Grant and Ashley Henderson from the Amistad Law Project  will be advocating that Judge Conner issue a preliminary injunction prohibiting Pennsylvania's Attorney General and Philadelphia's District Attorney from using the Silencing Act to censor Plaintiffs' speech. We want to put an end to this illegal statute before it can be used to intimidate, silence, and punish those who raise their voices against this system.
 ***Stay tuned for time and courtroom number*** 
Federal Bldg. & U.S. Courthouse
228 Walnut Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101 


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A Defined Voice

A Poem by Herman Wallace

"They removed my whisper from general population
To maximum security I gained a voice
They removed my voice from maximum security
To administrative segregation
My voice gave hope

They removed my voice from administrative segregation
To solitary confinement
My voice became vibration for unity

They removed my voice from solitary confinement
To the Supermax of Camp J
And now they wish to destroy me

The louder my voice the deeper they bury me

Free all political prisoners, prisoners of war, prisoner of consciousness"