Franklin Correctional Facility prisoner ibn Kenyatta, serving time for the 1974 attempted murder of a police officer, has long professed his innocence and refused to attend parole hearings despite being eligible since 1989. The elderly prisoner has no desire to be released. “If I wanted to get out, I’d go to the parole hearings,” Kenyatta, 71, stated. “Parole is for the guilty.”
For over 40 years Kenyatta has worked in various jobs inside New York state prisons. From 2006 to 2015, he served as a library clerk at the Franklin Correctional Facility, but his tenure ended with a new directive instituted by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) following the highly-publicized escape of Richard Matt and David Sweat from the Clinton Correctional Facility in June 2015. [See: PLN, Jan. 2017, p.26; June 2016, p.63]. Under the new policy, prisoners can no longer work in job positions beyond one year to discourage close personal relationships with civilian employees.
As a result of the policy change, Kenyatta was assigned as a porter – a physically demanding job that required him to perform janitorial duties, clean floors and shovel snow on occasion. After a short time on the job he made an unusual request: due to his age, he asked to retire. Prison officials denied his request, citing DOCCS Directive 4803, which states, “All program and work assignments shall be made without regard to an inmate’s age, race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, veteran’s status, or nonviolent political views.”
According to a November 25, 2016 news report in the Malone Telegram. Kenyatta is appealing the denial of his retirement request with the DOCCS administration. For non-prisoners, the retirement age for Social Security purposes is usually 65 to 67.
Note: This article has been updated; it originally reported, incorrectly, that Mr. Kenyatta was convicted of the 1974 murder of a police officer.
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