Prison Radio
Mumia Abu-Jamal

The headline (Justice Suspended’), in the middle right-hand column of a Northeast Pennsylvania newspaper, caught my eye, and for the briefest of moments, I pondered its possible meanings.

Had justice indeed been suspended in Pennsylvania?

I thought of the hundreds of men, over 600 at last count – the most in the world! – Who were sent to prison for life in PA prisons. In 2013, the US Supreme Court, in its Miller v. Alabama decision, outlawed this practice, but this is Pennsylvania.

For these men, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled that Miller wasn’t retroactive; therefore, it didn’t apply to them. For them – these 600 – was justice suspended?

As I said, this was the briefest of moments.

The headline referred to a judge on the PA Supreme Court (called ‘justice’ in this state), who was suspended from his office for his role in a still unfolding sex email scandal. He was among other high-ranking officials, from the attorney-general’s office to the parole board, accused of swapping hundreds of sexually explicit and racist emails.

According to published accounts, Justice Seamus McCaffery (a former Philadelphia cop), threatened another justice whom he wished to help him, saying, ominously, “I’m not going down alone.”

These words sounded like a discussion between Mafiosi; not the highest judges in the state.

Is Justice Suspended?

Perhaps it has been –for years.