POTTSVILLE, Pa. - Convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal is in intensive care for treatment of diabetes and is "not doing well," his family said Tuesday.

Abu-Jamal, 60, was taken from the state Correctional Institution-Mahanoy to Schuylkill Medical Center in Pottsville on Monday after passing out, his wife, Wadiya Jamal, said outside the hospital.

His blood sugar level was very high, 779, when he arrived at the hospital and remains above 300, she said. Anything above 186 is considered dangerously high.

A hospital spokesman said he could not confirm that Abu-Jamal was a patient there or release information about his condition. The prison also declined to release information, citing patient privacy laws.

Family members said they had not met with a doctor but had pieced together information from conversations with nurses and Abu-Jamal.

His wife said Abu-Jamal described falling down in the prison and being rushed to the hospital.

His family said he had had health problems, including severe eczema, in recent months. But they did not know he had diabetes. Wadiya Jamal said her husband had been treated in the prison's infirmary in February, where he said he received blood tests but was not found to have diabetes. He also had been feeling tired and urinating often, his wife said, which are symptoms of diabetes.

"He's not doing well," Wadiya Jamal said as she stood outside the hospital Tuesday afternoon with family members and supporters.

'Pins and needles'

Abu-Jamal's hospitalization was first reported Monday by Prison Radio, an outlet that has worked with him in the past.

At that time, the reason for his medical treatment was not known, and Bret Grote, a lawyer with the Abolition Society, planned to go to court to gain access to Abu-Jamal and his medical records.

Grote said Monday he was "concerned, about as concerned as it gets, about Mumia's health."

On Tuesday, Grote and others said Abu-Jamal's hospitalization raised concerns about medical treatment available to prisoners and communication with family members during medical emergencies.

"We've been on pins and needles ever since we got up here yesterday and heard what condition he was in," said Keith Cook, Abu-Jamal's brother.

First word of illness

The family learned that he was hospitalized because two of Abu-Jamal's supporters arrived at the prison Monday for a previously scheduled visit and were told they could not see him.

The state Department of Corrections has declined to release information about his medical condition, but confirmed that he was taken to the hospital Monday morning and was able to see family on Tuesday.

Abu-Jamal was convicted in the 1981 killing of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.

He was sentenced to death for the slaying. The sentence was reduced to life in prison without parole after a high-profile, decades-long appeals process.

Abu-Jamal has been in the news in recent months after giving a recorded commencement speech to graduates of a Vermont college last fall.

After that speech, Pennsylvania legislators passed a "mental anguish" law that lets crime victims seek injunctions against such speeches and other "conduct which perpetuates the continuing effect of the crime on the victim."

Lawyers for Abu-Jamal are challenging the law in federal court, saying it infringes on free-speech rights.




Philly.com staff writer Emily Babay contributed to this article.