Regarding: 2008 Parole of Eight Prisoners:
Debbie Sims Africa #006307, Janet Holloway Africa #006308, Janine Phillips Africa #006309, Michael Davis Africa #AM-4973, Charles Sims Africa #AM-4975, William Phillips Africa #AM-4984, Delbert Orr Africa #AM-4985, and Edward Goodman Africa #AM-4974
Chairman Catherine C. McVey
Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole
Attn: Inmate Inquiry
1101 South Front Street, Suite 5300
Harrisburg, PA 17104
Dear Mrs. McVey,
Please parole Chuck, Debbie, Delbert, Eddie, Janet, Janine, Mike, and Phil Africa this year. They have not caused any major disciplinary problems during the past three decades. They have spent most of their lives in prison; please allow them to be a part of, and contribute to, society as free citizens.
There are many around the world, who have different reasons for supporting parole for these eight prisoners.
--The sentencing judge stated publicly that he did not have the faintest idea who shot the one bullet that killed Officer Ramp. Nine people cannot fire one bullet.
--Many supporters of parole feel that Officer Ramp was actually shot by police "friendly fire," because it would have been ballistically impossible for MOVE to have shot Ramp, who was across the street from MOVE\'s house. These supporters believe that because of MOVE\'s position in the basement, bullets coming from there would have had an upward trajectory, yet the medical examiner testified that the bullet entered Ramp\'s \"chest from in front and coursed horizontally without deviation up or down.\" Even the authenticity of official ballistics are in dispute. At a pre-trial hearing, in open court, the Judge allowed the prosecutor to literally use a pencil and eraser to change the medical examiner\'s report to conform with the medical examiner\'s testimony about the bullet\'s trajectory.
This theory about the bullet\'s trajectory could have been tested, but MOVE\'s house was illegally demolished that very day, and police did nothing to preserve the crime scene, inscribe chalk marks, or measure ballistics angles. A few days before, a Philadelphia judge had signed an order barring the city from destroying the house, but this order was violated. In a preliminary hearing on a Motion to Dismiss, MOVE unsuccessfully argued that destroying their home had prevented them from proving that it was physically impossible for MOVE to have shot Ramp.
--Yet, other supporters of parole cite the average 10-15 year sentence given for third-degree murder. MOVE prisoners have now served 2-3 times this sentence. Isn\'t 30 years enough Merle Africa, who has died in prison, and these surviving eight have already paid a terrible price for what happened on that day.
Lastly, We are concerned about optional stipulations that the Parole Board may require, which we feel are unfair, and which many legal scholars argue are a violation of First-Amendment rights. In the past, as a condition for parole, MOVE prisoners have unfairly been required to renounce MOVE and their deeply held religious beliefs.
We are also concerned about two other possible stipulations.
First is the \"taking responsibility\" stipulation, which basically asks a prisoner to admit guilt in order to be granted parole. These eight MOVE prisoners have always maintained their innocence, so it is unfair to require this of them.
Second is the \"serious nature of offense\" stipulation. MOVE spokesperson Ramona Africa feels that this is illegal "because the judge took this into consideration and when the sentence was issued, it meant that barring any misconduct, problems, new charges, etc. this prisoner was to be released on their minimum. To deny that is basically a re-sentence."
Please do not require these optional stipulations.
We do ask that you please grant parole to these eight prisoners so that, after 30 years, they can go home to their families.
Supporters of Parole for the MOVE 9 prisoners--maintained by Journalists for Mumia Abu-Jamal, Philadelphia
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