Ralph Poynter visits Mumia Abu-Jamal

He’s still glowing, days later. On Aug. 10, Ralph Poynter, spouse of “the people’s lawyer,” Lynne Stewart, visited Mumia Abu-Jamal in SCI Mahanoy Prison in Pennsylvania for the first time. Both Stewart and Abu-Jamal are political prisoners.

Lynne Stewart is dying in a Ft. Worth, Texas, federal prison. Her request for early “compassionate release” based on her stage-four cancer has been denied by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. And her request to have her ten-year barbaric sentence overturned due to her terminal illness was recently rejected by New York City Federal Judge John Koeltl, who imposed the sentence years ago.

Abu-Jamal is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the murder of a Philadelphia cop, despite his innocence. He survived 30 years in solitary confinement and is currently in the general population.

The people’s long, protracted efforts helped win Mumia’s release from death row. Any prison, however, is vicious and cruel. And inmates face conditions and repression that are deplorable. Restrictions and threats are meant to control and confine.

Mumia can receive visits twice a week, has limited phone usage — though phone calls are very expensive and hard to get — and can now touch another human being. Abu-Jamal’s visitation list is very limited and there is a waiting list. Poynter says he was on the list for about a year.

In the visiting room, Poynter states he recognized Mumia immediately. Abu-Jamal is a tall, impressive, dignified man with a big, warm smile and a sense of humor. Says Poynter, “He must be the most recognizable man on the planet.”

At the time, there were approximately 40 other people in the visiting room. All the inmates seemed to know who Mumia is and showed respect for him and what he stands for, says Poynter.

Neither he nor Mumia wasted any time on introductions, and proceeded to discuss today’s national and international politics, Pointer stated. He was extremely impressed by Mumia’s wealth of knowledge about goings-on in the “outside world” and how well-read and informed Mumia was. One of the things they talked about was the murder of teenager Trayvon Martin, and the “not guilty” verdict in Zimmerman’s trial.

Poynter watched the trial on TV while in Washington, D.C., holding months-long, daily vigils for Lynne Stewart in front of the White House. All the media he saw seemed to say the same thing, that it’s OK to kill a Black child with impunity.