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William Kunsler reading,
"Actin' Like Life's a Ballgame"
written by Mumia-Ablu Jamal

Long version: mp3, 3.44 MBs, 4:18

Intro by Bernard White & William Kunsler; mp3, 2.09 MBs, 2:33

When I hear politicians bellow about "getting tough on crime" and barking out "3 strikes - yer out!" rhetoric, several images come to mind.

I think of how quickly the tune changes when the politician in on the receiving end of some of that 'tufness' after falling from grace.

I am reminded of a powerful state appellate judge, who, once caught in an intricate, bizarre web of criminal conduct, changed his long-standing opinion regarding the efficacy of the insanity defense, an option he once ridiculed.

It revealed, in a flash, how illusory and transitory power and status can be, and how we are all, after all, human.

I also think of a young man I met in prison, who was one of the first wave of people imprisoned back in the '70s under new, tougher youth certification statutes, where teenagers are sentenced as adults.

This man, whom I'll call Rabbani, was a tall, husky 15 year old when he was arrested in south eastern Pennsylvania for armed robbery.

Rabbani was tried as an adult, convicted of all charges and sentenced to 15-30 years in prison for an alleged 'armed robbery' with a CO2-air pistol.

He grew into manhood in shackles, and every time I saw him he seemed bigger in size but more bitter in spirit.

I was always struck by the innate brilliance of the young man; a brilliance immersed in bitterness; a bitterness so acidic that it seemed capable of dissolving steel. For almost 15 years this brilliance has been caged in cubes of time and steel.

For those critical years in the life of a male, from 15 to 30 years of age, those years that mark the transition from boy to man, Rabbani was entombed in a juridical, psychic, temporal box emblazoned with the false promise "corrections" upon it.

Like tens of thousands of his generation, his time in hell equipped him with no skills of value to either himself or his community. He has been merely warehoused in a vat that sears the very soul.

He has never held a woman as a mate or lover; he has never held a newborn in his palm, its heart athump with new life; he hasn't seen the sun rise, nor the moon glow, in almost 15 years. And all for a robbery "armed" with a pellet gun at 15 years old.

When I hear such easy, catchy, mindless slogans, like "3 strikes - you're out!", I think of men like Rabbani, who had one strike (if not a 'foul'!) and are, for all intents and purposes, already outside of any game worth playing.

From Death Row,
this is

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal

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Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa

Text © copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.