Below is a letter from Dr. Mutulu Shakur to his friends and supporters. In this letter Dr. Shakur explains the details of his case, including the interpretation of specific laws supporting his release, as well as instructions for addressing and mailing letters of support.
Free Dr. Mutulu Shakur! Free the Land!
DR. MUTULU SHAKUR
FEDERAL REG# 83205-012
P.O. BOX 3900
ADELANTO CA, 92301
FREE MUTULU SHAKUR
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 forth and/or set a new standard for “mandatory release;” the presumed concern at this stage must address an entire class of prisoners sentenced under the “old law” 4205(a), such as myself.
My right to due process has been repressed by various elements of law enforcement. Do they have rationale for their position, and is it founded in law? I believe it is not. The standard to deny mandatory release, as stated in the law applicable to me, is set forth in Code of Federal Regulation Sec 2.53(a): 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.” A finding of either of the above, or both, could potentially extend my incarceration until the expiration of my 60-year sentence.
The parole commission is charged with determining whether or not I am a threat to the community and society as a whole. Its function is limited in scope and subjective by nature. The presumption is that the commission represents the society as a whole and accepts the parole commission’s perspective on what constitutes a threat to society. If the parole commission fails to consider the will of the community as well as the desire of the broader society at large for healing and reconciliation, then we have an obligation to ensure the parole commission’s process remains as informed, fair, impartial and unbiased as possible.
The individuals and the institutions that oppose my release and question my resolve have had the benefit of mainstream media to project their views; while I have endured the disadvantage of having no access to mainstream media. My story is your story and it has been difficult and not heard. As an example, consider the false reports that I have already been released. If the media’s narrative is accepted as truth, then my value while incarcerated has been negligent to non-existent. Meanwhile, my life through conflict resolution and interaction with people from all walks of life, cultures and political persuasions both inside and out, beg to differ. Their intent seems to categorically deny an individual’s potential and ability to continue in his evolution, while simultaneously ignoring applicable laws and statutes.
What we have been tasked with is difficult and victory will have been hard fought. This is yet another stage of the struggle. We must make the parole commission hear our voices.
Incarceration can be the catalyst to produce individuals that emerge with a newfound moral compass. I have been privileged to witness that growth and development in myself and in many others throughout my incarceration. As a result, there have been many good works produced, both inside and outside of these walls.
I am not a celebrity and I am reluctant to blow my own horn because I believe that doing so undermines and depreciates the selfless efforts of the whole. 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. It will be important to gather your thoughts and memories of our experience, to present the necessary contradiction to the narrative that I am a threat to the community or society and present it to the parole board.
We cannot rely on mainstream media, which is largely informed and therefore biased by the agencies, institutions and individuals that seek to keep me silenced in prison, to tell our story objectively; nor should they remain in a position to tell the story of the many struggles of those who’ve lost loved ones during a period of conflict. For those of you who feel I have impacted your lives in a positive way, I humbly ask that you describe our engagements in the form of specific testimony, written, orally, or visually to the attention of the parole commission. Please also feel free to forward this letter and my request to others who have had similar experiences that they would like to share. Please address the testimonials to the Parole Commission [specific instructions are below] and email them to BOTH email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can review the letters before they are sent:
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. For once you know the truth, it is said the burden is yours.
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 support.
Dr. Mutulu Shakur
BACKGROUND: CONTROLLING LAW
(A) A prisoner (including a prisoner sentenced under the narcotic addict rehabilitation act, federal juvenile delinquency act, or the provision of 5010(c) of the youth correction act) serving a term or terms of five years or longer shall be released on parole after completion of two-thirds of each consecutive term or terms or after completion of thirty years of each term or terms of more than 45 years (including life terms), whichever comes earlier, unless pursuant to a hearing under this section, the commission determines that there is a reasonable probability that the prisoner will commit any federal, state, or local crime or that the prisoner has frequently or seriously violated the rules of the institution in which he is confined. If parole is denied pursuant to this section, such prisoner shall serve until the expiration of his sentence less good time.
(B) When feasible, at least 60 days prior to the scheduled two-thirds date, a review of the record shall be conducted by an examiner panel. If a mandatory parole is ordered following this review, no hearing shall be conducted.
2.53-01 REVIEW PROCEDURE
(A) Upon receipt of a progress report from the institution prior to the “two-thirds” date, an examiner panel shall conduct a record review. A recommendation to parole normally should be made in order to provide a period under supervision for all except those who have the greatest probability that they will commit any federal, state, or local crime following release. A parole should not be recommended, however, for prisoners who have seriously or frequently violated the rules of the institution.
(B) Unless mandatory parole is ordered on the basis of the record review, the case should be placed on the next hearing docket for a mandatory parole hearing. If the regional commissioner disagrees with a panel recommendation to grant mandatory parole on the record, he may order that the case be heard as originally scheduled. If paroles not recommended following such hearing, the examiner panel may recommend any such action as may be appropriate.
(B) The commission shall furnish the eligible prisoner with a written notice of its determination not later than twenty-one days, excluding holidays, after the date of the parole determination proceeding if parole is denied such notice shall state with particularity the reason for such denial.
(C) The commission may grant or deny release on parole notwithstanding the guidelines referred to in subsection (a) of this section if it determines there is good cause for so doing: provided, that the prisoner is furnished written notice stating with particularity the reason for its determination, including a summary of the information relied upon.
*Italics indicate my emphasis
BACKGROUND: ANALYSIS OF SECTION 4206(D)
Section 4206(D) should be interpreted in connection with statutory framework of the parole act. The act provides for both discretionary and mandatoryparole. An inmate with a life sentence becomes eligible for parole after serving 10 years in prison. Section 4205(a) release may be granted in the commission’s discretion based on a variety of factors, including the seriousness of the offense, whether the individual has substantially observed the rules of the institution, and whether parole would jeopardize the public welfare Section 4206(a). If parole is denied, the prisoner receives additional discretionary parole consideration every two years.
Under Section 4206(d) the commission (must) parole an inmate who served 30 years (unless) it determines he has seriously or frequently violated institution rules and regulations or…there is a reasonable probability that he will commit another crime. (This is crucial…) In establishing different criteria for discretionary and mandatory parole, congress necessarily intended the commission view the grant of mandatory parole under section 4206(d) through a different and more lenient lens than discretionary parole.
The legislative history of the act supports this view. This section provides more liberal criteria for release than the discretionary parole provision and requires the commission to consider efforts that the prisoner may have made to improve his education, skills, or personal attributes.
Surely, a prisoner who was granted a “discretionary parole” – even though now taken away – is even more eligible to be released on mandatory parole after they have served 30 years. Anyone sentenced 45 years or more, including those sentenced to any life term or other terms, who has not been released by any other applicable laws shall be released after the service of two-thirds or 30 years of such sentence. The math is computed on the basis that 45=30.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR ADDRESSING AND MAILING YOUR LETTERS
If you are able to write a parole support letter, please write three copies and address one copy to the Parole Board (Case Operations, U.S. Parole Commission, 90 K Street, N.E., Third Floor, Washington, D.C. 20530).
Address a second copy (or a similar letter) to the USDOJ Office of the Pardon Attorney (Deborah Leff, Office of the Pardon Attorney, 1425 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 11000, Washington, D.C. 20530).
Address a third copy (or a similar letter) to President Obama (The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500).
While the letters will be addressed to the individuals above, please ONLY email them to email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org so that they arrive as soon as possible and no later than March 11th to be reviewed.
- Please Type on letterhead
- Date the letter
- Add a subject line such as “In regards to: Dr. Mutulu Shakur #83205-012”
- For the parole letters, begin your letter with “Dear Honorable Members of the Parole Board:”
- Pardon letters should begin “Dear Ms. Leff:” and “Dr. Mr. President:”.
- Include biographical information such as your name, age, occupation (if you have been employed in the same field for some time, note that in your first paragraph) and relationship with Dr. Shakur or how you know him.
- Describe why you believe he deserves the chance for parole, such as positive activities while incarcerated such as education and mentoring other inmates, as well as his positive attitude.
- Mention if there is any specific way(s) you intend to provide support once he is granted parole (housing, employment, healthcare, etc.).
- Generally, these are the subjects that letter writers may want to cover:
- Include a short acknowledgment about Mutulu’s conviction. Basically that the author knows that he was arrested in 1986 and eventually convicted of conspiracy to commit serious and violent crimes based on circumstantial and informant testimony. The prosecution never argued that these crimes were committed for greed or personal gain. Letters should not defend or justify the alleged conduct that led to the convictions, but in the writer’s own words acknowledge that s/he is aware of the conviction and the severity of the allegations.
- Explain that these are different historical times and for many years while in prison Mutulu has never engaged in illegal or violent conduct. He has maintained relationships with family, friends and colleagues outside the prison. He has suffered a stroke while in prison in February 2013. He has also throughout his prison term maintained a commitment to the struggle for justice for people of color.
- If Mutulu is released, he will be a productive member of society. He’ll contribute to efforts to help the poor and those who are marginalized. He is highly unlikely to violate the terms of parole. He will in no way be a threat to the public safety.