Former Black Panther Herman Bell will have spent over 44 years in prison when his parole hearing comes up later this month. Bell, who just turned 70, was convicted in 1973, with Albert Washington and Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom) in the 1971 killing of two New York City police officers.
Sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, Bell was first eligible for parole 14 years ago and has been denied release seven times since.
“I’m eligible for parole release every two years. I’ve satisfied all the structural requirements,” he wrote late last year. “Yet each time I appear before the Board, I’m denied parole ‘due to the nature of the offense.’”
“Each time I go to the Board” he wrote, “the PBA [Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association] circulates a petition opposing my release,” describing the cops’ efforts to keep him behind bars until he dies.
Muntaqim’s parole hearing is set for June. Washington died in prison in 2000.
Prison guards at the Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, New York, assaulted Bell Sept. 5, the Daily News reported. “I received multiple kicks, punches to the face and eyes, repeated head slams into concrete, and two cracked ribs,” he wrote to supporters. Then he was falsely charged with assaulting the guards and thrown into solitary confinement.
He was ultimately taken out, moved to Shawangunk Correctional Facility and transferred back into the general prison population after a letter-writing campaign by supporters helped break down the attempted frame-up. One of the guards, Jeremy Saunders, has been suspended without pay while the attack on Bell is investigated.