Convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal received a $1,400 taxpayer-funded check thanks to President Joe Biden’s COVID relief bill, Delaware Valley Journal is reporting.
State corrections officials confirmed the payment to Abu-Jamal, the former public radio journalist convicted of the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.
He’s among the most high-profile prisoners in the Keystone State to receive a payout, much to the chagrin of those who have opposed his release over the years.
George Bochetto, an attorney for Faulkner’s widow Maureen, told DVJournal the payments to convicted felons like Abu-Jamal are “insanity.” He called out Democrats for killing an amendment that would have nixed the payouts to incarcerated felons like Abu-Jamal.
During the debate over the American Rescue Plan Act — Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID bill passed on a straight party-line vote — a GOP-backed amendment denying COVID dollars to criminals in prison was defeated in a 49-50 vote. A single Democrat’s “yes” vote would have moved the ban forward, which creates a political problem for Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) similar to the one facing Sen, Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire.
The key difference? Casey isn’t up for re-election in ten months.
“Whoever authorized the mailings of those checks out should be shot,” said Bochetto. “To send murderers $1,400 in prison is both a complete utter and waste of money, and it sends the absolute wrong message.”
The 2021 relief checks to prisoners became a national story last week when news broke that Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had received a payment. Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to allow them to seize the funds as restitution to victims of the 2013 terrorist attack. The judge had yet to rule as of Tuesday, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The question of whether New Hampshire’s own notorious cop-killer, Michael Addison, received a COVID relief check remains unanswered. A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections says no payment was deposited in his DOC account. However, because New Hampshire allows prisoners like Addison to maintain bank accounts outside the prison, he could have received a check without their knowledge.
Opponents of the Biden relief bill argued at the time it was too big and spent too much money on non-COVID-related items. Popular when it passed, the massive spending bill is now being blamed for contributing to the inflation currently plaguing the economy. Even Biden has acknowledged his spending plan is part of the problem.
But money going to terrorist bombers and convicted cop killers is, for some, beyond the pale.
“On what planet could someone justify sending a taxpayer-funded check to the man who killed and wounded hundreds of Americans in a terrorist attack?” demanded the National Republican Senatorial Committee in a statement.
Abu-Jamal has been described by The New York Times as “perhaps the world’s best-known death-row inmate,'” and his case has become a cause celebre among progressives and social-justice activists. While some claim he’s wrongly convicted, his conviction has been upheld by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Third Circuit Court, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Abu-Jamal’s death sentence, however, was vacated by the District Court in 2001 over questions about jury instructions during the sentencing phase.
“It’s an insult to every taxpayer,” Bochetto said. “I don’t want my taxes going to cop killers sitting in prison.”