January 2019 Update from Mutulu Shakur
Firstly, I wish you all the very best of holidays in which you celebrate. I have been remiss by not sending out a strong Kwanzaa recognition and new years greeting. I want to acknowledge receipt of your letters, cards, and concerns. I’m humbled by your continued efforts that acknowledge my circumstances year after year. You have been steadfast since our introduction providing me with encouragement, inspiration and determination for which I’m grateful. Let me assure you that I still have gas in the tank to see this through to the end, hoping to demonstrate the morals and principles that your support demands.
I have had my head down preparing for and attending a parole hearing, which was denied again for 6th time. My attorneys have filed a Complaint in Federal Court in Los Angeles against the Federal Parole Commission for violating my rights and refusing to release me at my maximum out date. Arguments scheduled to be held in Federal Court in Los Angeles February 11, 2019.
The stages available that remain post-litigation are, Clemency, release on Parole, and termination of the sentence. I and others I am incarcerated with have begun to develop research on the treatment of “old law prisoners” by the Parole Commission using new law guidelines. We will further our research to determine if this can be litigated.
I understand that some Federal prisoners will be impacted by the “First Step Act” due to the nature of the bill. However, by drawing the line between violent and non-violent prisoners based on their convictions and the long list of exclusions, none of us whose charges are related to the “Old Law” status from the Civil Rights era will be affected. There are hundreds of prisoners still incarcerated in Federal Prison since 1987–Thirty-Two years and counting. Our search for a judicial level playing field still goes on against their tendency to abuse.
Over the past year, I have watched how celebrities have become involved in the just release of individual prisoners. It helps stimulate changes in the culture to become more socially responsible, and there has been a recognition of the excesses of Mass Incarceration. We cannot deny that Meek Mill’s freedom from gross injustice, advocated by a cross-section of celebrities, activists and fans has made the collective consciousness a trending topic.
It would be unprincipled to not acknowledge Kim Kardashian’s persistent, specific advocacy for justice for Ms. Alice Marie Johnson, Ms. Cyntoia Brown, and Matthew Charles, who were prisoners not known by mainstream media. In fact, they were of the have-nots, and there was no other mainstream attention on their cases. The freedom of these individuals is a great thing. But it was not these celebrities that helped to free the political prisoners. We are happy that the 40-year journey to freedom has arrived for Mike Africa, Debbie Africa as well as Herman Bell, and Seth Hayes, after four long decades plus.
I do not underestimate the long consistent work by supporters and advocates who have carried the burden of exposing and advocating for this class of prisoners. I give them the utmost respect and pay homage, for without them the light would have been long burned out on our conditions. For that continued support, I thank all of you.
The grassroots activists should know that I am indebted to and understand what these years of sacrifices have meant to your own personal lives. After 40 years, the impact is unimaginable. I am honored that you have held me and all of us in your hearts; Thank you.
It’s is certain that my family continues to suffer and sometimes has questioned the lack of my presence in their lives, or rather the extent of it. I am terribly aware of my shifting status. I am holding on for engagement upon release, I love them all dearly, and am emboldened by the love they give me.
So here we are, another year later, celebrating the victories of 2018 for prisoners, with a long road still to go stimulated by willingness and demands to continue to learn. THANKFUL, and ENCOURAGE are the only words that fit for this new year’s resolution. I’m smiling at this stage in my life recognizing my many faults and errors. I hope that my growth has been recognized; it’s so good to know that you can still learn at this age!