Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was convicted on corruption charges and sentenced to 28 years in federal prison will reportedly be released into home confinement after serving only seven years due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, local radio station WWJ reported Friday (May 22).
The news was announced by the EBONY Foundation, which advocated for his release earlier this year. Conficted in 2013 of perjury, obstruction of justice and other crimes, Kilpatrick was expected to be paroled in 2037. Now, he will remain in quarantine, away from other prisoners for the next 14 days, and will return home on June 10, according to the EBONY Foundation.
BET.com also reached out to the Federal Bureau of Prisons for confirmation, but the agency will only verify that he is currently still incarcerated at the federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana with a release date of Jan. 18, 2037, according to its website.
The Detroit Free Press reported that the U.S. Attorney's Office there is looking into the report, but the office was also unable to confirm the EBONY Foundation's claims. Kilpatrick's attorney, Harold Gurewitz, also knew nothing about the development, the newspaper said.
"I am also attempting to find out if the BOP has taken any step toward releasing Kwame from FCI Oakdale, which has had an unacceptably high incidence of COVID 19 cases and deaths," Gurewitz said to the Free Press. The BOP website shows that 81 prisoners and 8 staff were confirmed to have coronavirus.
An inmate at the federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana recently reportedly died of COVID-19 complications. Calls nationwide have been made to either release non-violent felons or place them on house arrest to mitigate their exposure. People who have monitored his case said that Kilpatrick fell into this category.
"Certainly, the former mayor did something that he should not have done," Wayne County, Michigan Sheriff Benny Napoleon told WWJ. "But, realistically I think that we should look at it like — especially during this pandemic — are you mad at him, or are you scared of him?"
"If you're scared of them, they deserve to be incarcerated. If all you are is mad at them, then we should figure out something, some other way to punish people that we're just mad at, we're not afraid of."
Kilpatrick, 49, was elected in 2001, on a wave of renewal for the city, but got caught up in a scandal that exposed an affair with a high school classmate. When the scandal landed him in court, he was eventually convicted on 24 federal felony counts, which included mail fraud, wire fraud, and racketeering.
The conviction came after a lengthy trial that turned the city upside down, exposed a group of cohorts in a pay-to-play scheme that involved kickbacks and ultimately got his father, Bernard Kilpatrick also convicted and sentenced to 15 month in prison. His mother, former Michigan Rep. Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick lost the Democratic primary election in 2010.
Since his sentencing Kilpatrick has been denied in two appeal attempts and in January 2020 sought a presidential pardon with a letter to President Trump delivered directly to him. "The president was receptive," State Rep. Sherry Gay Dagnogo, who is among a group that believes Kilpatrick’s sentence was excessive told The Detroit News at the time. "He listened intently, said thank you and he would look into it."
A number of organizations, pastors, politicians and business owners have petitioned for Kilpatrick's early release. Some have gone as far as delivering letters to President Trump seeking clemency for Kilpatrick.
“This is welcomed news for my friend and his family," said Pastor Jamal Bryant in a statement provided by the EBONY Foundation. "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.
Photo Credit: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
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