The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.60/No.9           March 4, 1996 
Illinois Officials Reject Curtis Parole There  


DES MOINES, Iowa-On February 16, Illinois state officials told the lawyer for imprisoned political activist Mark Curtis that they have rejected his request to be paroled in that state. The reason authorities gave was that he does not have any "family" in Illinois.

Meanwhile in Iowa, Curtis supporters report that he has sent three separate articles to the Militant newspaper over the past two months, none of which have arrived at the paper. Curtis has filed two requests to prison authorities for information regarding the articles, without response.

Curtis was framed on charges of attempted rape and burglary by Des Moines, Iowa, police in 1988. He was involved in a campaign to defend 17 Mexican and Salvadoran co-workers from the Swift meatpacking company who had been seized by federal immigration agents in a raid on the plant. A few hours after speaking out in Spanish at a meeting organized to confront the federal agents, Curtis was arrested and beaten by the cops, who called him a "Mexican lover" as they bludgeoned him.

After serving over seven years in prison, Curtis won his parole last fall. He remains in the Iowa state penitentiary awaiting permission from Illinois officials for an out-of- state parole.

Curtis applied to move to Chicago, where his wife Kate Kaku lives. Curtis's attorney Jed Stone was informed by Illinois state corrections official Vivian Sneed that voluminous evidence submitted by Curtis documenting his ten-year relationship with Kaku did not prove that they were "family." Unlike Iowa, Sneed told Stone, Illinois does not recognize "common law" marriage.

In addition, she said, the evidence of their long-standing relationship did not show that their "ties" were close enough to satisfy Illinois law.

Curtis and Kaku have begun the process of formalizing their marriage. On February 21 they filed a signed and notarized application for a license with the Lee County Clerk in Iowa, who has jurisdiction over the prison.

Process could take two months
The prison chaplain told Curtis that prison authorities will allow him to proceed with formalizing his relationship with Kaku only if he follows a process that can take up to 60 days. Curtis will have to take part in a special interview with prison officials, wait while the prison forwards notification to Kaku of the explicit crimes Curtis was convicted of, and then he must gain approval for the marriage from the warden.

Only then would the chaplain be able to conduct the ceremony and sign their license, a copy of which Curtis would then send to Illinois.

Almost three months have passed since Curtis's parole was approved by the Iowa State Board of Parole. Supporters of his fight had anticipated that he would be released by now.

From what prison officials have told the union militant, he now faces at least several more weeks in jail before his marriage is formalized. Then he will have to re-apply for parole to Illinois. And if the out-of-state parole application is approved, additional time will pass while the decision is relayed back to Iowa parole officials, from them to the warden, and an actual date for Curtis's release is set.

Letters aid Curtis' fight for freedom
After the parole board ruling in favor of Curtis, supporters from around the world wrote to him with congratulations. Many of the letters note that the writers hope the day he actually walks out the prison door would be as soon as possible.

Another wave of letters is now needed to let Curtis know that his supporters plan to stick by him while he continues to press for his right to parole.

These messages help remind prison authorities of the widespread interest in Curtis's case and that many people are watching what progress is being made toward his release. Letters can be sent to: Mark Curtis #805338, Iowa State Penitentiary, Fort Madison, Iowa 52627.

While the framed-up unionist pushes for release from prison, his supporters have moved the Mark Curtis Defense Committee - formed in 1988 in Des Moines to campaign for his freedom - from Des Moines to Chicago to continue his fight. They intend to continue organizing activities to defend him.

The committee has scheduled its first meeting in Chicago for Tuesday, February 27, at the Agape House, 1046 W. Polk. For more information or to send a contribution, contact the Mark Curtis Defense Committee at P.O. Box 477419, Chicago, Illinois, 60647.

John Studer from Chicago contributed to this article.

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