In October, a motion for his release was approved by U.S. Attorney Carlton S. Shier. The decision to grant parole was made public on November 10.
Now 72 years old, Shakur, an activist and holistic healthcare advocate, suffers from several medical conditions, including stage three multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that can harm the kidneys and bones. His release from prison, referred to as compassionate release, will allow him to spend what’s expected to be his final days with his family.
“There are a lot of tears of joy,” said Jomo Muhammad, an organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, who has been working to free Shakur. “There’s still disbelief because we were steadying ourselves for another denial. Now folks are excited about being able to reunite Mutulu with his family. We were crying together. It’s a long time overdue.”
In 1988, Shakur was found guilty in 1988 of leading a group of revolutionaries in a series of deadly armed robberies in Connecticut and New York, including one that claimed the lives of three people. His supporters maintain that he was targeted and consider him to be a political prisoner. They believe authorities wanted to make an example out of him because of his activism.
The panel previously denied his release in September, despite medical reports supporting his decline in physical function, confusion and hallucinations.
Shakur was convicted of racketeering conspiracy charges in 1981 for his involvement in the robbery of a Brink’s armored truck, where a guard and two police officers were killed. He took responsibility for his actions and expressed remorse, before later being convicted for helping his sister, 2Pac’s activist godmother Assata Shakur, escape from prison.
Mutulu Shakur was incarcerated under “old law,” a set of federal sentencing guidelines in place for crimes before 1987, meaning his parole decisions have been under the oversight of a U.S. Parole Commission that was intended to be phased out decades ago.
A judge who rejected his request for compassionate release in 2020 told Shakur he could reapply at “the point of approaching death.” That same judge, now 90 years old, was the one who sentenced him over 30 years ago.
He was denied release several times over the years. Authorities said that the reason for their decision was due to the nature of his crimes. They also said his health condition was not severe enough to initiate a release.
However, in the October decision, U.S. Parole Commission officials told Shakur, “We now find your medical condition renders you so infirm of mind and body that you are no longer physically capable of committing any federal, state, or local crime.”
At the moment, Shakur is being held at a federal medical center in Lexington, Kentucky, which provides incarcerated people with medical care. According to his attorney Brad Thomson, he has had Covid at least twice and has been using IV feeding tubes since May. Thomson said doctors with the Federal Bureau of Prisons gave Shakur less than six months to live back in May.