By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Governor Tom Corbett, in Philadelphia, today signed a bill that would allow crime victims to sue convicted felons who might be involved in activities while in prison, or after they get out, that cause them “mental anguish.”
Corbett signed the “Revictimization Relief” amendment to the Crime Victims Act at 13th and Locust Streets in center city, at the very corner at which police officer Daniel Faulkner was shot and killed in 1981.
The measure was fast-tracked through the state legislature and approved 11 days after convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal gave an October 5th commencement address to a Vermont college, in a speech recorded from prison by telelphone.
As Abu-Jamal supporters nearby chanted “One Term Tom,” the governor said the bill allows crime victims or their relatives to sue to prevent inmates from making statements that cause mental anguish.
“Maureen Faulkner, Danny’s wife, has been taunted by the obscene celebrity that her husband’s killer has orchestrated from behind bars,” Corbett said.
The measure was pushed by the Fraternal Order of Police, the union representing police officers, and backed by district attorneys and the Pennsylvania attorney general. It provides for injunctive relief if the criminals that harmed someone seek publicity from the crime in any way.
Supporters of the measure hope it puts a lid on Abu-Jamal’s ongoing commentaries which, in their words, have “revictimized” Officer Faulkner’s widow, Maureen, who attended today’s bill-signing.
Mrs. Faulkner (seated at left in photo) says she’s been forced to step into the public spotlight over the years to respond to Abu-Jamal.
“He will not be able to have his little cottage industry from prison,” she said today.
A few dozen Abu-Jamal supporters, including Pam Africa, were kept behind police barricades (below) but chanted throughout the program about how the new law unfairly limits free-speech rights.
“This legislation is very crooked,” said Africa. “It takes the rights away from people to speak out against injustice.”
They say that it violates First Amendment rights and would stop inmates or former inmates from speaking on public policy issues.