Former death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal has been moved into the general prison population for the first time since his arrest in a Philadelphia police officer's murder three decades ago.
Susan McNaughton, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, tells The Philadelphia Inquirer that Abu-Jamal was moved Friday from the restricted housing unit at the Mahanoy (MA'-hahn-oy) state prison in Frackville, about 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
Law professor Judith L. Ritter, who represented Abu-Jamal in recent appeals, calls it “a very important moment for him, his family and all of his supporters.”
Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner. Prosecutors agreed to a life term after a federal appeals court ordered a new sentencing hearing, citing flawed jury instructions.
Since his arrest, Abu-Jamal has gained supporters worldwide who claim he is innocent of the crime and the victim of a racist legal system. Many opponents however, including Faulkner's widow and Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, maintain that Abu-Jamal was Faulkner's killer.