Kwame Kilpatrick, former Detroit Mayor, has been granted early release after spending 7 years of a 28-year sentence. Kilpatrick, convicted in 2013 of perjury, obstruction of justice, and other crimes, was not expected to be paroled until 2037.
In March, EBONY in coordination with the National Baptist Convention of America, the NAACP, National Business League, and a coalition of over 30 Black Megachurches called for Kilpatrick’s early release. Following Michigan state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo who in February led the charge by delivering a letter to President Donald Trump from Detroit leaders seeking clemency for Kilpatrick. Millionaire businessman Peter Karmanos lobbied for a Kilpatrick pardon from Trump, while current Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan also expressed support.
The coalition’s plea referenced the President’s recent pardons and commutations and the extremity of Kilpatrick’s sentence. It was reported last month that a fellow inmate of Kilpatrick’s died on April 25 after testing positive for the coronavirus. Patrick Jones, 49, was serving a 27-year sentence for a drug-related crime when he became ill at the federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana.
“Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison for his crimes. And while there has been a lot of debate about his guilt or innocence, we were arguing neither, rather, we were opposing the excessive nature and length of his sentence. Kwame Kilpatrick’s punishment of a 28-year sentence did not fit the crime.” says Rev. Keyon S. Payton, National Director, Community Outreach and Engagement, The EBONY Foundation adding, “as EBONY celebrates its 75th year we take pride in continuing to use our platform to raise awareness to issues of social justice and civil rights.”
Nearly 40 percent of those incarcerated in federal prisons are African-American, many serving very long sentences for drug-related crimes. Many have some underlying medical conditions.
Many have lent their voice in support of Kilpatrick’s request for clemency including Angela Stanton, founder of The American King Foundation, who was recently granted a pardon from President Trump. “One of the reasons I’m running for congress is because I understand the importance of restoration and justice. Kwame has served over 7 years in a cage being separated from his family for non-violent charges. He, just like those at the border, deserves to be reunited and given a second chance.”
Michigan State representative Karen Whitsett said that she spoke with President Trump last night and that he said Kwame Kilpatrick would be one of 3,000 prisoners soon released.
Rep. Whitsett says the early release is related to the COVID-19 pandemic and that the former mayor will be on house arrest, but that his risk factor was also taken into consideration for the release.
Current Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan was asked during his Friday update on the city’s COVID-19 response for his thoughts on the situation. He said people who know him know his connection to Kilpatrick is “very personal.”
“Known him since he was in high school. When he was teaching at Marcus Garvey and going to law school at night at DCL, he’d study in his father’s office which was next to mine and his twins would play on the floor in my office,” Duggan said.
Duggan said Kilpatrick is one of the most talented people he’s ever met.
“He has a lot to contribute and if, in fact, the reports [of his early release] are true, I’ll be doing anything I can to help him get a fresh start,” the mayor said.
Pastor Jamal Bryant had this to say regarding Kilpatrick: “This is welcomed news for my friend and his family. I’m certain that Kwame will take advantage of this opportunity to make a positive contribution to society and fulfill his immense potential to do good and make a difference. We prayed and God answered. ”