After more than 35 years in prison, Mutulu Shakur, Tupac Shakur’s stepfather, will be released on parole on Dec. 16, when he’ll spend what are expected to be his final days among family and friends.
The U.S. Parole Commission in October granted a request to release Shakur, an activist and holistic health care advocate, now 72, according to court documents obtained by NBC News. The decision to grant parole was made public on Thursday.
Shakur has several health issues, most notably stage-3 multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that can affect the bones and kidneys. He is being held at a federal medical center in Lexington, a prison in Kentucky for incarcerated people who require care.
“There are a lot of tears of joy,” Jomo Muhammad, an organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, who has been working to free Shakur, said of the decision. “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.”
Shakur has been incarcerated for decades stemming from a 1988 conviction for leading a group of revolutionaries in a string of armed robberies in New York and Connecticut, including one that left three people dead. His supporters consider him to be a “political prisoner,” arguing that authorities wanted to make an example of him because of his activism.
Shakur has been denied release several times over the years, with authorities insisting that his crimes were too serious and his health had not deteriorated enough to warrant release. However, in the October decision, 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.”
Organizers have advocated for Shakur’s compassionate release, urging authorities to allow him to spend his final days with family, rather than in a Kentucky medical prison. Shakur has endured drastic weight loss due to his illnesses and treatments, has had Covid at least twice, and has relied on IV feeding tubes on and off since May, his attorney Brad Thomson said. Thomson said doctors with the Federal Bureau of Prisons gave Shakur in May less than six months to live, noting that his cancer treatment had stopped working.
After being released on parole, Shakur will be monitored for up to four months. Muhammad said he is glad that Shakur is still alive, and his supporters and family are working to secure the best medical care for him.