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Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners V. the USAby Mumia Abu Jamal
Synopses & Reviews
“Expert and well-reasoned commentary on the justice system. . . . His writings are dangerous.”—The Village Voice
In Jailhouse Lawyers, award-winning journalist and death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal presents the stories and reflections of fellow prisoners-turned-advocates who have learned to use the court system to represent other prisoners—many uneducated or illiterate—and, in some cases, to win their freedom. In Abu-Jamal’s words, “This is the story of law learned, not in the ivory towers of multi-billion-dollar endowed universities [but] in the bowels of the slave-ship, in the dank dungeons of America.”
Includes an introduction by Angela Y. Davis.
Mumia Abu-Jamal’s books include Live From Death Row and Death Blossoms.
"Mumia Abu-Jamal’s 27 years on Death Row for a murder he did not commit would have turned almost anyone else into an embittered, defeated man. Instead, he has remained what he always was, “the voice of the voiceless,” as he demonstrates yet again in his most recent book . . . Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A. opens a tightly shut door into the operations of the U.S. penal system by chronicling the exploits of dozens of jailhouse lawyers--both men and women--who have fought the injustices the courts and the prisons have dealt them and their fellow prisoners. Their accomplishments, against all odds, have been incredible. Their story is a story never before told." — J. Patrick O'Connor
"Mumia Abu-Jamal points out in his latest book, his sixth from Death Row in Pennsylvania, that unfortunately jailhouse lawyers—prisoners who learn the law in the joint and help other prisoners with appeals and legal problems—have a reputation of freeing others while they squat. 'It’s the bane of jailhouse lawyers. They seem to be able to help everybody but themselves.' That truth hit home earlier this month when the U.S. Supreme Court refused, without comment, to hear the former Black Panther’s appeal for a new trial based on the prosecution’s consistent exclusion of blacks from his 1982 jury pool. He turns 55 Friday, which means he has officially spent more than half his life in jail. Unless further appeals work, a new Philadelphia jury will eventually be composed, and it will give him life imprisonment or re-institute his death sentence for the 1981 murder of Daniel Faulkner, a white Philadelphia police officer. Then the state of Pennsylvania will try to kill him again." — Todd S. Burroughs, Whosemedia.com
"Despite the U.S. Supreme Court's rejection April 6 of Abu-Jamal’s appeal for a new trial, he continues to fight for his freedom. This would not have been possible without the support of millions worldwide. He reminds the reader of the more than two million Americans behind bars in similar situations to himself, and that those in the free world have a responsibility to those trapped 'in the bowels of the slave ship, in the hidden dank dungeons of America.'" — Indypendent
"Mumia chronicles numerous stories surrounding the experiences of those who faced incarceration, but narrowly escaped with the power of the pen, and the tongue of one (or more) like-minded individuals possessing self-invented legal minds. Like-minded individuals who were immensely unafraid, to divinely deter the injustices they faced in prison. . . Mumia deconstructs the entire corruptive constructs rooted in the contradictive, confusing force that is historically known as American Law. Its callous vulture-culture continues to clash its claws upon the working poor, and the poor in general." - Marlon Crump, Poor Magazine
"More than a book about prisoners defending prisoners in what the author justly calls 'the Prisonhouse of Nations,' Mumia Abu-Jamal's Jailhouse Lawyers has the potential to jump-start the prison reform movement in the US. In addition to telling the individual stories of the best (and worst) jailhouse lawyers defending themselves and their fellow prisoners in the face of official hostility and, in many instances personal danger, and presenting a lively history of jailhouse lawyering in modern America, Abu-Jamal clearly exposes the political and racial bias of the US criminal justice system and explores the role of jailhouse lawyers in the jungle of American law." - Richard Vogel, Op-Ed News
“From his unique vantage point (he has been incarcerated for more than a quarter of a century, most of that on death row), Abu-Jamal aptly humanizes the individuals toiling behind bars to bring cases against enormous institutional, societal, and legal obstacles. . . . [The book] testifies to the character of many jailhouse lawyers, who, when treated with disdain or worse, quietly persist in reading, analyzing, writing, and fighting to do what is right — doing justice.” — Heidi Boghosian, The Federal Lawyer
"Journalist, activist, and author Abu-Jamal writes a startling expose’ on otherwise shrouded subject matter, thusly inaugurating this book unto an exemplary class by itself. Indeed, the power of his truth upholds the long-neglected promise of transformation awaiting the domains of justice." —Mischa Geracoulis, The Black House Blog
"To borrow from an old African-American proverb, Mumia Abu-Jamal 'speaks truth to power' in his latest book on jailhouse lawyering, the American legal system, and the prison-industrial complex. . . . Abu-Jamal writes with incisive equanimity while presenting penetratingly disturbing facts, little known in mainstream society." —Mischa Geracouli, Z Magazine
Book News Annotation:
Imprisoned journalist and activist Mumia Abu-Jamal profiles the work of the jailhouse lawyer in the United States, offering a perspective of the law written from the bottom, in recognition that beyond the black and white of the law books and the statutes, "the law ain't nothing but whatta judge say the law is." In spite of that observation, made by Abu Jamal to an outside lawyer working with him on a civil action, he documents some successes by jailhouse lawyers in working on their own and others' cases while simultaneously presenting a critique of the way the American judicial system works against the less powerful in American society. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Stories of prisoners who learn law to represent and sometimes win freedom for fellow prisoners
Politic Science. Law. Includes an introduction by Angela Y. Davis. In JAILHOUSE LAWYERS, award-winning journalist and death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal presents the stories and reflections of fellow prisoners-turned-advocates who have learned to use the court system to represent other prisoners--many uneducated or illiterate--and, in some cases, to win their freedom. In Abu-Jamal's words, "This is the story of law learned, not in the ivory towers of multi-billion-dollar endowed universities [but] in the bowels of the slave-ship, in the dank dungeons of America."
About the Author
Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning journalist and former Black Panther Party member, whose books include Live From Death Row, Death Blossoms: Reflections from a Prisoner of Conscience, All Things Censored, We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party and Faith of Our Fathers. He has been living on death row in a Pennsylvania prison since 1982. Internationally renowned public speaker, author, activist, scholar and symbol of 1970s black power, Davis was the third woman to appear on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list and has authored eight books.
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History and Social Science » African American Studies » General