By Linn Washington Jr.
In August 1936 nearly 20,000 excited spectators filled a vacant lot next to a municipal building in a small Kentucky town to watch the hanging of a man convicted of rape. That hanging would be the last public execution in America.
Although states across this country have banned executions in public as barbaric, some contend that the American public is again witnessing the spectacle of a public execution. This time it is an inmate in Pennsylvania that evidence indicates is experiencing a barbaric 'slow execution' through calculated medical mistreatment and medical neglect.
Mumia Abu-Jamal, perhaps the most widely known prison inmate in America, is gravely ill, hardly able to walk or talk because of severe complications related largely to the diabetes which medical personnel inside a Pennsylvania prison failed to diagnose for months. Those prison personnel either did not detect the diabetes earlier this year while giving Abu-Jamal numerous blood tests that easily identify the elevated blood sugar levels of diabetes or did not inform Abu-Jamal of the blood test results .
That failure to find his raging diabetes -- a disease easy to diagnose and easy to treat -- led to Abu-Jamal's emergency hospitalization at the end of March, after he collapsed, unconscious and in sugar shock. At the time he was finally transported to the hospital, Abu-Jamal was on the verge of a potentially fatal diabetic coma.
Despite Abu-Jamal's obvious painful and deteriorating medical condition, Pennsylvania prison authorities have barred Abu-Jamal from receiving access to or consultation from medical experts assembled by his supporters. Those experts could provide the quality of care unavailable at either the demonstrably incompetent or malignant infirmary inside the prison where he is housed or that non-prison hospital authorities utilized.
The refusal of Pennsylvania prison authorities to either properly diagnose and treat Abu-Jamal or permit him access to non-prison medical personnel who could effectively treat his conditions fuel justifiable and understandable fears among Abu-Jamal's far-flung supporters that anti-Abu-Jamal forces are trying to effectuate the death sentence that hung over Abu-Jamal on death row for 28-years before it was voided by reason of constitutional flaws cited by a federal court. Abu-Jamal initially was convicted and received a death sentence during a controversial trial in 1982 where he was found guilty of killing a Philadelphia policeman.
"They are outright killing him in front of us," Pam Africa said. Africa, a close associate of Abu-Jamal and head of International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal, visits him regularly.