BY JOHN STUDER
CHICAGO - Authorities at the Illinois Department of Corrections have informed Mark Curtis that they need further proof that he has significant "ties" in Illinois to justify his parole there.
Curtis, who was framed up on charges of attempted rape and burglary in Iowa in 1988, won his parole last November, but he continues to be held in the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, Iowa, until Illinois authorities grant him permission to be released into that state. Curtis, a member of the Socialist Workers Party, was framed by the police while he was participating in a public campaign to win freedom for 17 co-workers at the Swift meatpacking plant in Des Moines. The "Swift 17" had been seized in an immigration raid at the plant where Curtis worked.
Curtis has requested to be paroled to Chicago because his wife, Kate Kaku, lives and works there. In addition, Curtis has numerous job offers in Chicago and a network of supporters and political cothinkers there who have offered their services as he begins to work and function politically again upon his release.
Under Illinois law, the authorities have told both Curtis and his attorney, Jed Stone, that Curtis must have family or marriage ties in the state to be admitted. Curtis has been married to Kaku since 1986, but, since their marriage is "common law" - which is recognized in Iowa - Illinois officials are refusing to accept it. They are asking for more evidence that Curtis and Kaku have a long-standing relationship or are, in fact, married. They informed Curtis and his attorney that when they receive the additional documentation, they will make a ruling on his parole within five days.
Curtis's attorneys and supporters have gathered a substantial quantity of additional evidence of his and Kaku's long-standing relationship. Pay stubs, bank, and joint income tax records demonstrate they have lived together since 1986, kept joint financial records, and filed joint income tax returns. Affidavits from former next door neighbors Julia Terrell and Rose Floyd show they lived together in Des Moines from November 1986, when they moved to Iowa from New York, until September 1988, when Curtis was convicted and imprisoned. Their joint lease in the apartment they lived in on 25th Street in Des Moines has been obtained. Prison records show that Kaku is registered with the prison as Curtis's wife and has visited him dozens and dozens of times.
Curtis's counselor at the Iowa State Penitentiary told him that the prison informed Illinois Corrections officials they will be submitting this material to further Curtis's application for release. His attorney is sending additional materials as well.
According to Curtis's counselor, Illinois authorities say this is the only obstacle to his being granted out-of-state parole.
Curtis's supporters have completed the move of his defense committee to Chicago. On February 8 a rental truck moved the Mark Curtis Defense Committee's files, computer equipment, and other supplies to Chicago.
The committee has a new mailing address: MCDC, Box 477419, Chicago, IL 60647-7419. The new phone number is: (312) 829- 2950.
In Chicago the defense committee will be in the best situation to collaborate with his attorneys and monitor his effort to win release in Illinois. It will also be in the best position to work with Curtis to meet new legal and political challenges to his rights once he is released, gets a job, and begins to get active in politics there.
Requests for information on the status of Curtis's fight and contributions to help out can be sent to the new Chicago address.
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