This past Thursday , Mutulu Shakur, Black liberation leader, activist, and stepfather of rapper Tupac Shakur, was granted release from prison after a 36 year sentence. However, his release has only been permitted now that he has less than six months to live.
72-year-old Shakur has been denied release 10 times before by the U.S. Parole Commission. The most recent denial came earlier this year in April; this decision was made by Judge Charles Haight Jr., the same judge who sentenced Shakur over 30 years ago. Although medical examiners had already reported that the cancer was taking a toll on Shakur's body, suffering from hallucinations and deteriorating physical health, the U.S. Parole Commission determined that "his health had not yet severely declined".
The U.S. Parole Commission' policy stipulates that any incarcerated person can be eligible for "compassionate release" for compelling reasons such as terminal illness. However, Shakur was only approved for release just this week on November 10th, even though a Bureau of Parole doctor delivered a prognosis that he has less than six months to live this past May.
From the U.S. Parole Commission in their decision to release Shakur, “We now find your medical condition renders you so infirm of mind and body that you are no longer physically capable of committing any Federal, State or local crime".
If Mutulu Shakur's health has been deteriorating since the beginning of this year, why has it taken so long for him to be released from prison if he has long proven to not be a threat to society?
Incarcerated Black liberation leaders have notoriously had difficulty receiving amnesty and parole in the system, and are used as examples for the punishment activists will receive for fighting back against systemic racism.
“We are relieved that the Parole Commission now recognizes what has long been true — that Dr. Shakur’s release poses no risk whatsoever,” said one of Shakur’s attorneys, Brad Thomson of the People’s Law Office. “It is tragic that it took until he was on the verge of death for that truth to finally be realized.”