Mumia Abu-Jamal moved into general prison population

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Former death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal has been moved into the general prison population for the first time since his arrest in a Philadelphia police officer’s murder three decades ago.

Susan McNaughton, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, told The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper that Abu-Jamal was moved Friday from the restricted housing unit at the Mahanoy state prison in Frackville, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) northwest of Philadelphia.

Law professor Judith L. Ritter, who represented Abu-Jamal in recent appeals, called it “a very important moment for him, his family and all of his supporters.”

Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner. Prosecutors agreed to a life term after a federal appeals court ordered a new sentencing hearing, citing flawed jury instructions.

Abu-Jamal, a one-time radio journalist and former Black Panther, garnered worldwide support for his claims that he was the victim of a racist justice system.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.