Mutulu Shakur, the stepfather of Tupac Shakur, has been denied an early release from federal prison, where he is dying of cancer as he serves a 60-year sentence.
Senior U.S. District Judge Charles S. Haight Jr. denied Mutulu’s compassionate release petition this week, writing that while Mutulu’s condition was sympathetic, it did not overcome the nature of his convicted offenses. Mutulu was convicted of involvement in plots to commit robberies totaling $2.5 million, in which an armored car guard and two Nyack policemen were murdered.
“Should it develop that Shakur’s condition deteriorates further, to the point of approaching death, he may apply again to the Court, for a release that in those circumstances could be justified as ‘compassionate,'” Haight wrote in his ruling.
Mutulu’s attorneys argued that he deserved release from prison because potential exposure to the coronavirus, combined with his condition, put him at grave risk. They asked for him to be released to the home of his son, Mopreme Shakur.
“Beyond Mr. Shakur’s lack of disciplinary incidents, his positive conduct in prison paints the picture of a man who is committed to self-improvement, is not a danger to anyone, and has actually improved the prison environment for others,” Mutulu’s attorneys wrote in the petition. “Mr. Shakur has expressed empathy for all the direct and indirect victims of his crimes, and this empathy been one of the forces that have led him to embody nonviolent solutions to conflict and teach those lessons to others.”
Mutulu’s numerous supporters included Congressman Bobby Rush and a former associate warden of Victorville federal prison, who wrote that Mutulu is not a danger to society. The son of Peter Paige, the guard, killed during one of the robberies, wrote a letter to the court opposing Mutulu’s release. “Mutulu Shakur must be made to serve out his sentence, otherwise justice will not be served,” the letter says.
At the time of his arrest, Mutulu was a leader in the Black Liberation Army. He was married to Afeni Shakur for seven years in the 1970s and 1980s and is credited with being a formative figure in Tupac’s upbringing.
Mutulu, who is 69, is scheduled to be released in December 2024, according to the Bureau of Prisons. He is currently incarcerated in FMC Lexington in Kentucky.
Written by Nate Gartrell