Why does the Abu-Jamal case matter so much?

    Philadelphia DA Seth Williams says he won’t try to restore the death sentence for Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted 30 years ago of killing a cop. Did Williams make the right call? And why does the Abu-Jamal case matter so much?

    Thirty years after he was convicted and sentenced to death for killing Philadelphia cop Daniel Faulkner, Mumia Abu-Jamal is destined to spend the rest of his life in prison with no fear of the death penalty.

    Philadelphia’s district attorney, Seth Williams, announced this morning that he will not make any further efforts to restore Abu-Jamal’s sentence of capital punishment. 

    Do you think Williams made the rightcall today? Tell us in the comments below.

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    A federal appeals court had overturned the death sentence. And in October, prosecutors were unable to get the capital sentence re-instated in the U.S. Supreme Court.

    So in effect, the legal proceedings are now over. The debate outside of the court room, however, may rage on.

    The Abu-Jamal case is a well-known cause among death penalty opponents. Philadelphia Inquirer staffers may remember members of the activist commune MOVE standing outside the newspaper’s offices with bullhorns demanding that Abu-Jamal be freed.

    Of all the convictions in America that may seem questionable to public observers, why has Abu-Jamal’s became so central?

    WHYY’s Elizabeth Fiedler reports today that filmmaker Tigre Hill, whose movie “The Barrel of a Gun” is about the Abu-Jamal case, said that in doing research for the film, he came to the conclusion that not only is Mumia guilty, but that he got a fair trial.

    He thinks people are still talking about the case because Abu-Jamal is a good storyteller and the Free Mumia movement is a great marketing phenomenon. Abu-Jamal’s story may be compelling, but its veracity is debatable.  

    What do you think, 30 years after his conviction?

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