News Article
August 8, 2022

Dr. Mutulu Shakur Files Suit Against the US Parole Commission for Denial of Compassionate Release in Kentucky Federal Court

August 8, 2022


Brad Thomson, Attorney, People’s Law Office 1180 N. Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL 60642

Nyeusi Jami, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM), Atlanta Coordinator


Today, on Dr. Shakur's 72nd birthday, his legal team is filing a writ of habeas corpus in federal court of the Eastern District of Kentucky. The legal filing challenges the May 2022 decision by the United States Parole Commission to deny mandatory parole to Dr. Shakur, alleging that this decision denied Dr. Shakur of his constitutional rights.

Dr. Shakur is currently battling terminal multiple myeloma – advanced bone marrow cancer. In May, the Bureau of Prison-contracted doctor assessed that he had less than 6 months to live. His health has continued to deteriorate since receiving that grim prognosis.

The writ of habeas corpus asserts that the Parole Commission violated the United States Constitution and its own policies by finding that Dr. Shakur is likely to commit a crime upon release. All the available evidence demonstrates that he poses no risk to anyone:

• His medical condition: Given his end-of-life trajectory, Dr. Shakur is not a threat to anyone

• His age: It is widely recognized by government agencies and courts that statistically, elders pose the lowest risk of recidivism. People over 70 like Dr. Shakur pose almost zero risk

• DOJ’s risk assessment tool places Dr. Shakur in the lowest category of risk for recidivism

• His positive conduct in prison: Dr. Shakur has been a model prisoner and has earned the support of current and former BOP staff who support his release.

• His acceptance of responsibility: Dr. Shakur has accepted responsibility for his role in the conspiracy he was convicted of and he has expressed empathy to the victims and families

Dr. Shakur and his legal team have also made a request that the Commission reconsider its prior denial based on new information regarding Dr. Shakur’s deteriorating medical state. The procedures of the Parole Commission allow for the Commissioners to modify a prior decision where “new information of substantial significance favorable to the prisoner, including medical information, or other extraordinary and compelling information” is provided to the Commission. The Commission has stated that it is considering this request for Dr. Shakur, but it has not yet taken any action.

One of Dr. Shakur’s attorneys, Brad Thomson, of the People’s Law Office based in Chicago, says,

“The Constitution prevents parole boards from making decisions that are arbitrary, irrational, and based on erroneous information. That’s exactly what the United States Parole Commission has done in the case of Dr. Mutulu Shakur.” He continued, “Dr. Shakur is at the end of his life and poses absolutely no threat to anyone. Federal law and public policy support that individuals in that situation can, and should, be safely released so they can spend their final days at home, with loved ones.”

Dr. Shakur is also pursuing a motion for compassionate release before his sentencing judge in Southern District of New York. The United States Attorney’s Office has opposed that motion and Dr. Shakur and his legal team are awaiting a decision from the judge.

Faith leaders, national civil rights organizations, acupuncturists, criminal justice reform organizations, human rights lawyers, and activists have all called for Dr. Shakur's immediate release. All of his white co-defendants have been released on parole or died shortly after release. Despite being within weeks of death, Dr. Shakur is being denied the compassionate release that would allow him to die with his sons, daughters, and grandchildren. Dr. Shakur’s family, friends, loved ones, and supporters call on the U.S. Parole Commission to reverse their decision denying his parole.

The U.S. Parole Commission, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Bureau of Prisons acknowledge that Mutulu has terminal cancer and is near death, unable to conduct the activities of daily living without assistance. Where a prisoner is near death and poses no danger, the law allows for them to be released. His supporters and legal team are calling for the law to be applied fairly and justly for the 72-year-old man dying of cancer.

Thomson says, “Today, Dr. Shakur turns 72 and there is almost zero chance he will live to see 73. He was not given a death sentence, but that is exactly what will happen if the United States Parole Commission and other government agencies don’t act swiftly and fairly apply the law to Dr. Shakur.”