Convicted Pa. Cop Killer to Give Commencement Speech at Goddard College

PLAINFIELD, Vermont – Sources say a convicted Pennsylvania police murderer will be a commencement speaker at Goddard College in Vermont.

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) has learned through media reports that convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal has been selected as a commencement speaker for Goddard College in Vermont. His remarks will be delivered via an audio recording made over the state prison telephone system.

“I cannot express my disdain enough about Goddard College’s decision to allow this individual to be a commencement speaker,” Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said. “Police officers put their lives on the line every day to protect society, and now we have a college allowing an individual convicted of murdering a police officer to share his opinions with impressionable students. This fact is very troubling.

“Inmates do have a constitutional right to access telephones. While we do not support or endorse this specific type of activity, we cannot prohibit it from happening.”

The DOC’s telephone policy, which is similar to other state DOCs, allows inmates to place individuals other than crime victims on their telephone lists. Once an individual has been added to the telephone list, the inmate can call that person from the prison telephone.

“While the DOC monitors inmate phone calls, we do not have any control over what happens on the other end of the phone line,” Wetzel said, indicating that recording the conversation from the recipient’s end is not uncommon.

Abu-Jamal is serving a life sentence for the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981. He originally was sentenced to death in 1983, but was resentenced to life on Aug. 14, 2012. He is housed at the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy, Schuylkill County.

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