community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show: An update from the Justice for Terrell Johnson Campaign; Mumia Abu-Jamal's challenge of his life without parole sentence; A feature on gun control bill, HB 2331; An immigrant rights bus tour plans to deliver a message to candidates at the 2012 Democratic National Convention; We hear from independent journalists covering the 2012 Republican National Convention and more in our local and global headlines.
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Rustbelt Radio for August 27th, 2012
Welcome to this week's edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of the news from the grassroots, news overlooked by the corporate media.
On today's show...
Rustbelt Radio is broadcast live from WRCT studios every other Monday at 6 PM on 88.3 FM in Pittsburgh, and the program airs again on WRCT every Tuesday morning at 9AM.
We can also be heard weekly on the following stations:
We're also available on the internet, both on WRCT's live webstream at W-R-C-T dot ORG and for download, stream or podcast from our website at radio dot I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot org.
We turn now to local stories.
Here is Mumia Abu Jamal's report on John Carter's death, a case we have been following on Rustbelt Radio through the weekly prison report:
Mumia Abu-Jamal, the internationally recognized American political prisoner, thwarted a Philadelphia judge’s secretive court order that could have eliminated his future appeal rights when he filed a last- minute motion on August 23rd challenging that order sentencing him to life-without-parole.
Most supporters and detractors of Abu-Jamal had been expecting the formal conversion of his controversial death sentence to life-without-parole in the wake of a federal appeals court’s second and final rejection of requests from Philadelphia prosecutors to keep Abu-Jamal on death row back in April 2011.
What was unexpected by Abu-Jamal supporters were the procedures surrounding the secretive court order, which appears to have violated a number of Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure.
That secretly issued resentencing order occurred on August 13, 2012, exactly ten days before Abu-Jamal filed his motion.
If that ten-day filing period had expired, undiscovered due to secrecy-shrouded issuance of the resentencing order about which no public notice or notice to Abu-Jamal and his legal team, his legal ability to challenge his continued confinement would have been damagee, including his probable loss of future appeal rights.
Court rules and common courtesy require notice of court actions — both pending actually taken.
“This is the same backdoor stuff that’s always done to him,” Mumia attorney Rachel Wolkenstein said during an interview outside of Philadelphia’s Criminal Justice Center after delivering Abu-Jamal’s motion.
Abu-Jamal’s Pro Se Motion for Post Sentence Relief and Reconsideration of Sentence referenced Rule 720 of Pa’s Criminal Procedure which states in part that defendants shall “have the right” to make post-sentence motion but that motion must be filed “no later than 10 days after imposition of sentence.” ...
The injustice evident in Abu-Jamal’s case is consistent with the injustice exhibited daily by some Philadelphia police, prosecutors and judges.
The same day Abu-Jamal filed his resentence-challenging motion, a Philadelphia judge convicted Philadelphia broadcaster Jeff Hart of disorderly conduct for a minor incident arising from Hart’s observing police brutality during the arrest of a suspect near Hart’s house.
Hart said the false disorderly conduct charge followed his asking a Philadelphia policeman to not use repeated profanity when ordering Hart from the arrest scene.
Abu-Jamal, an award-winning journalist at the time of his 1981 arrest, frequently reported on this kind of rampant police abuse in Philadelphia.
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You are listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of news overlooked by the corporate media. We turn now to other independent news from around the world.
The following is a story about a bus that is organizing for immigrant rights, while doing a tour through different states, and will end up with a message for the candidates at the Democratic National Convention.
That was a piece produced by Radio Olean about an immigrant rights tour bus on its way to the DNC.
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of news from the grassroots.
Performer Sage Francis was swept up in a 2008 Republican National Convention mass arrest while on his way to a concert in Saint Paul. During the same convention, protest organizers who were later known as the "RNC 8", were charged with "Conspiracy to Riot", also the title of Francis' song.
That was Sage Francis' song about the 2008 Republican National Convention, "Conspiracy to Riot". The yelling heard at the end of the song was audio of Democracy Now's Amy Goodman and Nicole Salazar being arrested in two separate incidents at the 2008 RNC. The Democracy Now journalists later were paid $100,000 in compensation by the St. Paul and Minneapolis Police Departments, and the Secret Service. Download the song, from the top of the list of files, at StrangeFamousRecords.com/conspiracy/
In May of this year, a gun control related bill was introduced into the PA House and was approved 190 to 7. This grand margin of passage was in support of house bill 2331, which would create a mandatory minimum of a 5-year sentence for any convicted felon who is found with a gun. The press around this bill that was authored by Representative Todd Stevens, a republican from Montgomery County, has been fairly quiet and much support has been shared for it’s possible future as a law in hopes that it would be a great disincentive to people with felonies carrying guns and using them violently.
Joshua Glenn and Sarah Morris, both from Youth Arts Self-Empowerment Project or YASP and Decarcerate PA, are a part of the opposition to this bill, which has a direct impact on their lives and their work. First, they explain the work that they do:
Here are Gelnn and Morris on their resistance to HB 2331:
According to Families Against Mandatory Minimums, or FAMM, [quote] mandatory minimum sentencing laws require harsh, automatic prison terms for those convicted of certain federal and state crimes [end quote]. Drug offenses are most affected by mandatory minimums, with this type of sentence beginning in 1951 with the Boggs Act for drug offenses. Mandatory minimums take a lot of heat from advocates and judicial people alike. Here is Morris on the opposition to this sentencing:
The report Morris mentions was released by the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission in 2007 and is entitled "A Study on the Use and Impact of Mandatory Minimum Sentences." This report examined the extent, process and effectiveness of mandatory minimums in crime reduction. In conclusion, the report found [quote] neither the length of sentence, nor the imposition of the mandatory sentence per se, was a predictor of recidivism [end quote]. Recidivism meaning the repetition of a punishable behavior, often used to describe the return to a state of incarceration.
While HB 2331 affects the whole state, no city is more affected than Philly. As 2011 drew to a close, it was reported that Philadelphia maintained it’s first place standing for murders with 21 murders per 100,000 residents, a large majority of those involving handguns. The New York Times reported that in a single week of April 2011, [quote] 3 people were killed with guns in Philadelphia, 14 more were shot and wounded, 68 robberies were carried out at gunpoint and a total of 144 crimes involving firearms were reported [end quote]. Thus far in 2012, there have been 223 homicides, averaging about one per day, with firearms being used in 82% of them. Both Glenn and Morris acknowledge the problem of gun violence in this country and the particular severity inflicted upon Philadelphia. Here are Morris and Glenn sharing the deeper issues linked to gun violence and also possible solutions, which go much beyond what one bill may address:
Currently, HB 2331 is awaiting a Senate vote.
To find out more about YASP please visit: Y-A-S-project dot com. And Decarcerate PA can be found at d-e-c-a-r-c-e-r-a-t-e PA dot info.
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
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Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WSDR Pittsburgh, WIUP Indiana, WNJR Washington, WLRI LanChester, and FRSC Santa Cruz.
Our hosts this week are [ ] and [ ] with contributions from [ ]. This week's show was produced by Shawn Watson (and) Phill Cresswell. Special thanks to all of our hosts, producers, and contributors.
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Tune in next week at this time for another edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of news from the grassroots.