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Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners V. the USA Paperback – 1 Apr 2009

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This book combines anger with accuracy. Those at the receiving end of the law's sanctions always know more about the law than the rest of us, however learned and well qualified we may be. When you find someone who, like Mumia makes it his business to learn and know the law and who, with this learning, can put their finger on the often blatant intellectual dishonesty and bias of the courts and judges, then you have an outstanding text book. This is such a book. More: --Ian Macdonald QC

Jailhouse Lawyers enables the public to glimpse a crucial aspect of the growing movement against the prison-industrial complex hidden by high walls and steel doors, one which Mumia knows inside out. Mumia uncovers what extraordinary lives of resistance some prisoners have created from need, imagination, and determination. Drawing on his experience, compassion, and extensive correspondence, he sketches portraits of great jailhouse lawyers focussed on beating justice out of the system. Often spurred by the need to repair the damage to their own cases inflicted by lazy and uncaring street lawyers, Mumia describes how jailhouse lawyers learn the law, the precedents, the jargon, and mount an often formidable legal defense. In the process they carve out a life for themselves, a victory in itself. More: --Selma James, from the Introduction to the UK Edition

Jailhouse Lawyers is not a collection of legal anecdotes, a compendium of courtroom gloating, but a rare glimpse into the motives and struggles of the individual prisoners who refuse to surrender to the State which is attempting to crush them. Shorn of worldly honours and bereft of any social status, and squeezing the most benefit from the most meagre resources jailhouse lawyers are a new breed of legal gladiators. They are an increasing force in changing the penal landscape of the nation that incarcerates more people than any other. Mumia and the American experience illuminate what is possible for jailhouse lawyers in Britain, who are also turning to the law to defend themselves against the increasingly oppressive security paradigm. They do so knowing the personal risks and with little support, least of all from groups which dress themselves in the clothing of prison reform, accept honours and silver; and are enamoured with gracing the courtyards of power and publicity. Jailhouse lawyers foment hope for change, which everywhere rests in the hands of prisoners. More: --Ben Gunn, jailhouse lawyer, in prison for 30 years --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning journalist and former Black Panther Party member, whose books include Live From Death Row, Death Blossoms: Reflections from a Prisoner of Conscience, All Things Censored, We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party and Faith of Our Fathers. He has been living on death row in a Pennsylvania prison since 1982. Internationally renowned public speaker, author, activist, scholar and symbol of 1970s black power, Davis was the third woman to appear on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list and has authored eight books.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 15 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The Word of an Innocent Man on Death Row 7 May 2009
By Mark E. Smith - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most people lack the strength of character to retain their sanity when the system they have always believed in betrays them. Mumia Abu Jamal's book explains more about our just-us system than many would like to know. But as the nation with the greatest number of prisoners on earth, many of them framed for crimes they didn't commit as part of COINTELPRO or similar programs, it would behoove the average American to learn the truth BEFORE it whacks them upside the head. Because sooner or later, it will.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A wonderful piece of work 13 Sept. 2009
By Carl A. Root - Published on
Format: Paperback
Mumia gives a glimpse at some lesser known stories of American law, from an insider's perspective. Eloquent and revealing, simultaneously a breath of fresh air and a whiff of dank injustice. Highly recommended for anyone interested in our criminal justice system and those affected by it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Jailhouse Lawyers 20 July 2011
By J. Bailey - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent read for anyone actually practicing law, or just an interested reader wanting to make a difference. Jailhouse Lawyers delivers insight into the horribly corrupt American "justice" system and the many attrocities inflicted on its victims.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Mumia at his Best! 21 Jun. 2010
By Umesh Heendeniya - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book, by a long time victim of the Racist American Criminal Justice System, is long overdue. Thank you Mumia for giving recognition and due respect to the hundreds of unsung heroes ("jail house lawyers") who have fought and continue to fight the uphill battle for justice, in the vicious and unjust American Criminal "Justice" System. Mumia, may God protect you and other jail house lawyers, who face overwhelming odds on being able to receive fair hearings before "impartial judges/justices" (for a non-white criminal defendant or prisoner, the concept of an 'impartial judge' sounds like an oxymoron), while being subject to harassment and/or brutality by the prison/CJS officials. You and other jail house lawyers like you, continue to inspire me.
Umesh Heendeniya
Marlborough, MA, USA.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Combination social commentary and subject 23 July 2009
By Bufford D. Moore - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was fascinated to read Jailhouse Lawyers. The situation of prisoners in America is rather extraordinary. In a country that prides itself on freedom, this subgroup finds itself with increasingly restricted access. The fact that they are forced to depend on other prisoners for expertise is a statement in itself. A recommended read, but a warning- I really didn't ( and I guess don't) have a background which lends itself to really understanding what is being said. You may not either, but worthwhile in any case.
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