Click on the image below to add your signature to our renewed urgent request for executive clemency for Dr. Mutulu Shakur:
Dr. Mutulu Shakur – It is time for his release
Dr. Shakur received his ninth parole denial in January 2021. After being diagnosed with life-threatening bone cancer yet denied compassionate release, his lawsuit against the US Parole Commission and the Bureau of Prisons for unjust denials was expedited. We need your support as we pursue all avenues to improve Dr. Shakur’s fate as well as that of many aging federal prisoners!
Dr. Shakur has been a federal prisoner since 1986. He has taken full responsibility for his actions, served as a force for good and anti-violence throughout his decades of incarceration, is an elder and has multiple health complications, has a loving family that needs him, and upon release will continue to inspire people to seek self-improvement through peaceful and constructive means, as he has done while incarcerated.
The acts of which Dr. Shakur was convicted some thirty years ago were committed in the context of a movement seeking equal opportunities for black people who, it is widely conceded, were suffering catastrophically from disenfranchisement, segregation, poverty and exclusion from many of the fundamental necessities that make life worth living.
Dr. Shakur participated in civil rights, Black liberation and acupuncture healthcare all as part of movements of the late 1960’s to the 1980’s. It was a period of civil conflict in which millions of Americans participated in social movements for justice and freedom.
In 1988 Dr. Shakur was convicted of RICO conspiracy, armed bank robbery and bank robbery killings and sentenced to 60 years in prison. At no time did the evidence show that Dr. Shakur killed anyone. At two trials the evidence indicated others were responsible for the deaths (one of which became a government witness in return for a sentencing deal). The remaining defendants were acquitted for the murder allegations presented by the government. At the time Dr. Shakur was a well-known acupuncturist using his skills to address rampant drug addiction among young black people. He was a co-founder of the Republic of New Afrika movement, participated in presentations to the United Nations on discrimination experienced by Black communities throughout the U.S. and by 1970 was a subject of the FBI’s illegal COINTELPRO infiltration program.
Dr. Shakur has accepted full responsibility for the acts that resulted in his conviction and for many years has expressed the deepest remorse for those who were killed and their families pleading that there is no justification for the loss of life for the victims. For over twenty-five years, Dr. Shakur has been a leading voice in the Black community calling for peace, reconciliation and healing for the countless lives lost in pursuit of basic justice and human rights.
Dr. Shakur has for many years publicly suggested that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (“TRC”) of elected officials, faith-based and community activists and experts be convened to explore racial disparities and how to seriously address these issues through a peaceful, alternative dispute mechanism utilizing democratic process.
Dr. Shakur was scheduled for mandatory release in February 2016, but was held and is currently scheduled for mandatory release on December 15, 2024. The Parole Commission has repeatedly denied his release, and a Petition for Clemency was submitted for consideration by President Obama, but was not acted upon before he left office. Counsel for Dr. Shakur then filed a federal court case challenging the government’s interpretation and application of U.S. law by the U.S. Parole Commission.
The Parole Commission’s denial of release is based on several faulty considerations including –
• Parole Commission erroneously asserts, “Mutulu has not accepted responsibility for the crimes of which he was convicted.” However, Mutulu has clearly stated to the Parole Commission: “I accept full responsibility for the crimes involved in my conviction over thirty years ago. I was part of the conspiracy that resulted in those crimes and I deeply regret the loss of life involved … I have for several decades totally rejected the use of violence.” Read more
• Parole Commission erroneously asserts, “Mutulu often signs off his letters with the words “Stiff Resistance” and this indicates he may once again engage in violent crimes if released.” Mutulu responds that the sign off “Stiff Resistance” is intended to convey a message of resistance to injustice, discrimination, gang recruitment, etc. and is in no way intended as an incitement to anti-Government violence. It means to never give up, to be true to your beliefs, to be true to yourself even when the odds are against you.
• Parole Commission erroneously asserts, “Mutulu has referred to himself as a ‘political prisoner’ and this shows he is likely to commit violent crimes if released on parole.” Mutulu responds that the crimes of which he was convicted were “politically motivated,” not motivated by greed or revenge. The indictment and the trial judge both acknowledge the political motivations of those charged in the indictment. It is in this sense that he has referred to himself (and others refer to him) as a political prisoner. He contends that the label of political prisoner is not mutually exclusive to either rehabilitation or reconciliation.
• Parole Commission erroneously asserts, “Mutulu has referred to himself as a victim of the FBI’s former COINTELPRO infiltration and spying program and this shows he is likely to reoffend if released.” In fact, documents released many years ago under the Freedom of Information Act show that Mutulu clearly was a victim of the COINTELPRO program and the trial judge so acknowledged in several written decisions.
• Parole Commission erroneously asserts, “In 2013 Mutulu violated a prison rule by telephoning a professor who placed the call on a speaker phone so other faculty and students could listen to Mutulu’s comments.” Mutulu responds that he knows of no rule that was violated by the phone call and more importantly his underlying message to the students and faculty was one of pursuing social change through peaceful means, including conflict and alternative dispute resolution.
Documents recently released by the Parole Commission in response to a Freedom of Information Act request show that in the past two years no other federal prisoner has been denied parole because of the types of infrequent non-serious prison rule violations Mutulu has been charged with while incarcerated for thirty years. He has had no serious rule violations in over 25 years and only four non-serious violations, none involving violence or the threat of violence.
For updates about the status of Mutulu’s case or copies of his pending clemency petition or petition for reconsideration addressed to the Parole Commission, please email