DETROIT – Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick spoke during a Sunday service in Pontiac, urging the congregation not to forget about people behind bars.
The ex-politician was released from prison early, after serving only seven years of a 28-year sentence for his role in a major corruption scandal. He was sentenced to federal prison in 2013 after being convicted of a long list of charges.
Kilpatrick now lives in Atlanta, but has returned to Detroit to preach since his release. At a church service on Sunday, he spoke about second chances.
“You, me, we have been called today, none of us were meant to be bound physically or spiritually,” Kilpatrick said.
For some walking into church, prison reform hits close to home.
Worshipper Noah Haden says his father has been in prison since he was a baby.
“I love him very much,” Haden said. “He accepts for who I am, and I just want him to get out.”
Many said incarcerated people shouldn’t be written off.
“People chance their hearts, souls and mindset,” said Demeatri Styles, whose son is in jail. “Even with God, we hope to always be redeemed.”
“Aren’t the prisoners human? Don’t we deserve second chances?” Kilpatrick said.
In 1997, Alice Johnson was sentenced to life in prison for a drug trafficking operation. With the help of celebrity Kim Kardashian and former President Donald Trump, Johnson was granted clemency.
“What is not justice is to say, ‘You and you and you are not redeemable,’” Johnson said.
Johnson, Kilpatrick and others are drumming up support for the Good Time ballot initiative. Inmates could reduce their sentence by taking anger management and drug treatment programs.
Inmates could also complete high school courses and earn a college degree, leaving prison with employable skills.
“I’m not saying just let everybody out, but some people have shown they are sorry and deserve a second chance,” Styles said.
The initiative needs about 450,000 signatures in order to get placed on the ballot in November.