PA lawmakers push for bill to protect victims of violent crimes after convicted killer gives commencement speech

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Outcry at the state capitol over a convicted murderer’s commencement speech at a Vermont college over the weekend. A recorded speech of Mumia Abu-Jamal was played at Goddard’s College commencement ceremony. A judge sentenced Abu-Jamal to life without parole for the 1981 killing of Daniel Faulkner in Philadelphia. Now lawmakers want to prevent Abu-Jamal or any convicted felon from giving speeches and re-victimizing victims ever again.

Lawmakers say if the bill was a law today it would have prevented Abu-Jamal from recording a commencement speech that was played over the weekend in Vermont. The Pennsylvania Office of Victims Advocates says its appalled and disgusted with Abu-Jamal's actions. They say this bill finally gives victims of violent crimes the ability to heal.

"Why should the voice of a man be heard when the man has violently and wan tingly taken the voice of another innocent man by murdering him in cold blood."

Those are words written by Maureen Faulker, the wife of Daniel Faulkner. Daniel Faulkner was gunned down by Abu-Jamal in 1981. Abu-Jamal was originally sentenced to the death penalty but his sentence was later reduced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Abu-Jamal has received international support for his claims he was victimized by a racist justice system. He graduated from Goddard College in 1996. On Sunday he gave a video recorded commencement speech.

"Take what you know and apply it in the real work. Help be the change you're seeking to make," said Abu-Jamal in a recorded speech which was played Sunday.
Abu-Jamal did not address the crime during his speech. The school says the graduates chose Abu-Jamal as a way to "engage and think radically and critically.""The small college with a graduating class of 23 is stealing the public intention by selecting a cop killer to promote himself. Goddard College and Mumia Abu-Jamal truly are revictimizing the entire Faulkner family," says Governor, Tom Corbett.

Corbett says the college has a consitutional right to choose its own commencement speaker, but he's questioning the school's taste. Goddard College describes Abu-Jamal as, "an award winning journalist who chronicles the human condition." Our request for an on camera interview was not returned. Now lawmakers want to prevent similar situations from happening in the future.

"It is now time that the voice of the victim's be louder than the cowards that sit behind concrete and steel," says State Representative, Mike Vereb, representing the 150th legislative district.

If passed the bill would allow crime victims to seek civil action in court. The Attorney General, District Attorney, or victim's representative would be able to ask a judge to review the facts of what's being presented. The bill passed the house judiciary committee unanimously. It now moves onto the house for a vote.


1 Comment

  • Yorker

    It looks to me as though Goddard College is a small school that was founded on largely a community of people who self-study, yet they charge around $15,000 a year, which is nice work if you can get it. The key of course is getting it, so they need people like this man to showcase themselves and generate publicity. It is a very old principle that criminals be made to pay restitution, but if you destroy their prospects how can they do this? For whatever reason the state chose not to execute this man, so the state bears responsibility for the lack of justice for the victims family. Execute people who need executing, but don’t destroy whatever good can be breathed into life of what is left, to do so proceeds from the mean and the cowardly. The ones who offended are the school, come on Pennsylvania, your university system could bury these upstarts!

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