Take action now to demand legislators stop efforts that violate prisoners’ first amendment rights and instead hear prisoners’ voices! Call your Senators and tell them to vote NO on Senate Bill 508 and House Bill 2533.
House Representative Mike Vereb wrote House Bill 2533 (called “The Revictimization Relief Act”) in response to political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, who recently gave an audio-recorded commencement speech to 20 students graduating from Goddard College. That bill’s language has been inserted in its entirety into Senate Bill 508, which the Senate could vote on as early as Wednesday. You can find your own senator’s contact info as well as a call-in script below.
After calling, please post a short message to our Facebook page, letting us know that you called and what kind of response you received!
Who to call...
Find your own Senator’s contact information at:
We also ask that you call any or all of the following Senate leaders and request that they stop SB 508 from moving forward:
Senate Majority Whip Pat Browne - (717) 787-1349
Senate Minority Whip Anthony Williams - (717) 787-5970
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi - (717) 787-4712
Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa - (717) 787-7683
What you can say: Call-in Script
Caller: “Hi my name is _____[yours truly]____, from ___[wherever]____ , and I’d like to speak to Senator _______________ or his/her staff person who handles legislative matters.”
You may be told that no one is available to speak with you. You can then tell the receptionist or whomever you are speaking with:
Caller: “I am calling to voice my deep concern about Senate Bill 508, which has been amended to include the full text of House Rep Mike Vereb’s “Revictimization Relief Act” (HB 2533). -- Do you know what the Senator’s position is on this bill (SB 508)?
[Be sure that the receptionist or whoever does not discourage you from saying what you want to say of the points below...and if you want, explain additionally how this bill will impact you personally.]
Caller: I urge Senator ________________ to vote NO on SB 508 and HB 2533, as the bill clearly violates all prisoners’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. This bill was explicitly written to attack Mumia Abu-Jamal for an audio-recorded commencement speech he made, which was played to 20 graduating students at Goddard College earlier in October. However, SB 508 will affect all people convicted of a personal injury crime. In its nature, it provides the District Attorney’s office a means to silence any or all prisoners “on behalf of [the] victim.”
Sponsors of the bill have framed it as a means to protect crime victims from “a temporary or permanent state of mental anguish,” but this bill is misdirected. SB 508 (and HB 2533) would grant District Attorney’s offices and the Attorney General the legal power to punish prisoners for exercising their First Amendment rights. It is already clear that political prisoners and social justice advocates like Mumia Abu-Jamal will be the first targets of the bill, which would go into effect immediately..
In his speech, Mumia made no mention of the crime for which he was convicted, but even so, his commencement speech on freedom and social change garnered criticism from the Fraternal Order of Police and politicians like Mike Vereb.
If the legislature is serious about addressing the trauma experienced by victims of violence, they should work to provide comprehensive victim services -- such as counseling, community-based mediation, and other restorative practices -- which would prevent further crime and build healthier and safer relationships and communities, instead of further stripping prisoners of their rights.
Can you please pass on my concerns to the Senator? And incidentally, when is he/she up for re-election?
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and encourage your friends and family to call, too!