Mumia Abu-Jamal remains in a prison infirmary with COVID-19, one of his lawyers said.
On Friday, Abu-Jamal was in the infirmary at Mahanoy State Correctional Institution in Frackville, Pa., following a positive COVID-19 test this week, said Robert Boyle, one of his attorneys.
Abu-Jamal, 66, also was diagnosed with congestive heart failure last weekend, Boyle said.
The combination of Abu-Jamal’s preexisting conditions, which include psoriasis from previously having hepatitis C, combined with COVID-19, was “very serious,” Boyle said.
“It’s an evolving situation,” he said.
Boyle declined to disclose Abu-Jamal’s condition due to privacy concerns.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes congestive heart failure as a “serious medical condition” in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.
Abu-Jamal was rushed to an area hospital last Saturday because he had labored breathing and other issues. That’s when he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, Boyle said.
Abu-Jamal was returned to the Mahanoy facility either on Monday or Tuesday, Boyle said. On Wednesday, it was revealed Abu-Jamal tested positive for COVID-19.
Suzanne Ross, a longtime supporter of Abu-Jamal, reiterated calls to release him while he recovers from COVID-19 during a telephone interview Friday.
Ross said Abu-Jamal supporters have a deep mistrust of the medical care he receives from the prison over several past issues, including his lack of access to immediate treatment for hepatitis C.
“He has gotten sicker, sicker and sicker over the years,” Ross said.
“He certainly shouldn’t be in a prison,” she added. “He would be taken care of by friends and family and provided the medical and psychological care that he needs.”
Asked what Abu-Jamal’s legal options are going forward, Boyle said: “We’re exploring what legal possibilities exist and what we could do.”
Abu-Jamal, formerly known as Wesley Cook, was convicted of fatally shooting Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner after Faulkner had reportedly pulled over Abu-Jamal’s brother during a late-night traffic stop in 1981.
In prison since 1982, Abu-Jamal was on death row until 2011, when his death sentence was ruled unconstitutional. He is now serving a life sentence.
Abu-Jamal and his supporters have always said he’s innocent, alleging that his trial was tainted by police corruption and racism. The Police Benevolent Association Lodge 5 and Maureen Faulkner, Daniel Faulkner’s widow, among several others, have maintained the trial was fair and Abu-Jamal is guilty.
Abu-Jamal has published several books and commentaries during his decades in prison.
The inmate is appealing his conviction in Pennsylvania courts.