A group pushing for former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s prison sentence to be commuted and debts to be forgiven held a virtual news conference Friday morning.
- The live event has ended.
Watch the full recorded news conference here:
EBONY Magazine was joined by 20 pastors including Bishop T.D. Jakes, senior pastor of The Potter’s House in Dallas; Bishop Vashti McKenzie, presiding bishop, 10th Episcopal District, AME Church; Rev. Samuel Tolbert, president of the National Baptist Convention of America; and Evangelist Alveda King, author, and niece of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Also in attendance was Suzan Johnson Cook, U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.
The news conference called for the commutation of Kilpatrick’s sentence and debt forgiveness for thousands of Black farmers.
Here’s a statement from EBONY:
"Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in prison in 2013. It ties the record for the longest sentence in American history for an elected official. This clear case of excessive sentencing is emblematic of the victimization of black men by the criminal justice system. Further, Mr. Kilpatrick has been identified by prison officials as being at high risk for COVID-19 and has been placed in solitary confinement.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to foreclose on the properties of thousands of black farmers despite the stipulation of a court judgment that their debts be forgiven. Approximately 7,000 farmers in the South who collectively own about 1.5 million acres stand to lose their land. Many of them were part of a 1999 lawsuit that, among other things, sought debt forgiveness.”
In 2013, Kilpatrick was convicted on 24 federal felony counts, including mail fraud, wire fraud, and racketeering. He was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison. His sentence is scheduled to end Jan. 18, 2037.
The former Detroit mayor’s restitution was set at $1,637,087. In 2018, Kilpatrick told the court that he didn’t believe that he should have to pay the restitution because it’s impossible to calculate the amount of money he took from taxpayers.
Kilpatrick has been fighting his conviction and, more specifically his sentence, ever since. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals denied his original appeal of his conviction and sentence in 2015. He filed another motion in 2017 to vacate his prison sentence, and that was denied by a district court judge.
In 2019, he was denied again by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court said he was looking for a certificate of appealability on his claims that the district court “gave an incorrect jury instruction, that his counsel had a conflict of interest, that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because counsel was a necessary witness, that his sentence was incorrectly calculated, and that the district court judge was biased.”
This year, in May 2020, family members and supporters were certain he would be released from federal prison in June due to the risk of COVID-19. However, the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced Kilpatrick’s request for home confinement was denied. He will remain incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution-I in Oakdale, Louisiana, according to authorities.