Adapted from the International Action Center campaign.
Last week the Pennsylvania Legislature fast-tracked the "Revictimization Relief Act" to give virtually unlimited discretion to District Attorneys and the PA Attorney General to silence prisoner speech by claiming such speech causes victims' families "mental anguish." The act targets both prisoners' speech and supporters who distribute the speech.
PA Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montogomery) called this law "the most extreme violation of the First Amendment imaginable." In seeking to silence the legally protected speech of prisoners the state also damages the public's right and freedom to know, at a time when more attention is being focused on mass incarceration and police brutality. It is an attack on a freedom that must be guarded especially when and if officials do not agree with the content pf the speech they hear.
This legislation emerged as a politically-charged response, on the part of the Fraternal Order of Police and its political allies, when they were unable to stop PA prisoner and radio journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal from delivering his October 5 commencement address at Goddard College in Vermont, where Abu-Jamal earned his BA in 1996 while on death row. Students at Goddard collectively chose Abu-Jamal as their commencement speaker and the college administration supported the invitation. In this case, this law would deny the school the right to hear from its alumnus, Abu-Jamal.