Recently, headlines of media outlets were abuzz with talk of the release of activist/revolutionary Dr. Mutulu Shakur, who has been in federal prison for the last 30 years. Dr. Shakur (Tupac’s stepfather) shed some light on the legal elements of, and the impediments to, his release on his personal website. Read Dr. Shakur’s letter to supporters below:
Dear family and friends and supporters,
Like many of you, I was of the belief that I was to be released from prison, effective February 10, 2016. That belief was based on the 30 years I was required to serve. I have fulfilled that commitment while following all rules and regulations like any other prisoner would be expected to. Having been sentenced under federal statute 4205(a), any person serving more than 45 years must serve 30 years to receive mandatory release.
For the past 30 years my target release date has been February 10, 2016. Whosoever had legitimate concerns had the same time to come forward to argue that I should not be released.
To deny me release at this stage the Parole Commission must determine that I have either “repeatedly or seriously violated the rules of the institution, or there exists a great probability that the inmate will commit any federal, state or local crime following his release.”
The Parole Commission’s function is now limited in scope. The idea is that the society as a whole is represented by the Parole Commission. Hopefully the broader society has embraced a willingness to heal and move towards reconciliation. We have an obligation to ensure that the Parole Commission’s process is informed, fair, impartial and as unbiased as possible.
Many of the individuals that have opposed my release and question my resolve to be a productive member of society have had the benefit of mainstream media to project their views. I have endured the disadvantage of not having that benefit. My story has not been heard through the mass media. But I hope my call for reconciliation has been heard by some, and has had an impact, especially on young people.
What we have been tasked with is difficult and victory will have been hard fought. This is yet another stage of the struggle, but also an opportunity for our voices to be heard. I am hoping your messages can be shared with the Parole Commission as it makes a decision regarding my release or further incarceration.
Incarceration can be a catalyst to produce individuals that emerge with a newfound moral compass. I have been privileged to witness that growth and development in many other prisoners throughout my incarceration. As a result, there have been many good works produced, both inside and outside of these walls.
I would not be who I am today without all of you and I can only hope to have been a positive influence in your lives and in the lives of young men who have been incarcerated with me. It will be helpful to gather your thoughts and memories of our experience, and to share your sincere observations with the Parole Commission.
Please feel free to circulate this letter and my request to others who have had similar experiences that they would like to share.
Please address letters to the Parole Commission [specific instructions are below] but email them to both my attorney Peter Schey at firstname.lastname@example.org and my family at email@example.com for review before they are forwarded to the Board. I will not be personally reviewing letters.
My son Tupac acknowledged in the context of the struggle to overcome oppression that, “we’ve come so far, but still have so far to go …” To that I say, we must continue to be guided by the essence of our circumstances that has brought us to these points; which encourage us to be principled, honest and continue to search for the truth
Brotha Kendrick Lamar taught us “to pimp a butterfly.” From that we must always remember that we can evolve and to have faith in the power of transformation, that has been evident throughout the saga of our journey.
I thank you in advance for your continued love and support.
-Dr. Mutulu Shakur