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Michigan lawmaker heads to White House to push for Kwame Kilpatrick’s early release from prison

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in middle of 28-year prison sentence

DETROIT – A Michigan lawmaker is heading to the White House to push for former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s early release from prison.

Michigan Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo said Kilpatrick was unfairly sentenced for corruption during his time in office.

On March 11, 2013, Judge Nancy Edmonds sent Kilpatrick to jail. He was later sentenced to 28 years behind bars.

By now, Kilpatrick has spent 2,544 days locked up -- not even a quarter of his original sentence.

Gay-Dagnogo has been invited to the White House and is going with a letter from herself and a list of pastors and others, asking the president to intervene.

Gay-Dagnogo is the chair of the Detroit Caucus. Her effort at a commutation for Kilpatrick is one of a multipronged approached that has been ongoing with the Donald Trump administration for months.

The letter is signed by everyone from Rev. Wendell Anthony to a host of elected leaders across the state.

Gay-Dagnogo is attending the event at the White House on Thursday night, and the Trump administration is aware of her request.

“If there is one thing I have been consistent about from the inception of getting elected, it is my commitment to the pursuit of racial equity in respect to criminal justice reform,” Gay-Dagnogo said in an email newsletter. "No one is arguing the former mayor’s guilt or innocence; what we’re seeking ... is a conversation about ... the disproportionate sentencing that men of color experience at every level of the system, and I am appreciative of the invitation and looking forward to having an opportunity with the President or members of his administration to discuss favorably reviewing the former Mayor’s existing petition already before the President.

“We don’t have to agree on every issue, or even a majority of issues, to see the plain facts of this situation and recognize that those who issued Mr. Kilpatrick’s sentence sought to make an example out of a powerful but flawed black man. This discussion is about changing that example to one of second chances and rehabilitation - the same opportunities he has given to a number of other recently incarcerated individuals. I welcome allies of all backgrounds in the fight for justice.”

Related: What’s the difference between a pardon and clemency?

Kilpatrick served as mayor of Detroit from 2002 to 2008. He resigned in 2008 following a corruption scandal.

Kilpatrick, 49, was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison in 2013 after being convicted of racketeering, mail fraud, and wire fraud, among other charges. He has been fighting his sentence ever since. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals had denied his original appeal of his conviction and sentence. He filed another motion in 2017 to vacate his prison sentence, and that was denied by a district court judge.

In 2018, Kilpatrick wrote a letter to President Trump, asking for his sentence to be commuted.

Related: Peter Karmanos urges Trump administration to free Kwame Kilpatrick

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