Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been granted early release from federal prison — or has he?
The Ebony Foundation, which has been calling on President Donald Trump to grant clemency for the 49-year-old disgraced former mayor, announced in a news release that Kilpatrick will be released early from a federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana, WWJ reported. Several news outlets have repeated the WWJ report without confirmation.
But Metro Times was unable to verify Kilpatrick's early release, and neither the Justice Department nor the Bureau of Prisons would confirm. The Ebony Foundation did not respond to our inquiries.
Detroit Free Press reporter M.L. Erick, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on Kilpatrick, said he's not so sure the news is legitimate.
Unless you are former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, please don't call to say "former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is being released from prison."— m.l. elrick (@elrick) May 22, 2020
I've spent all morning digging into this. It has all the makings of a hoax.
If you INSIST on wasting time, try this: https://t.co/peONpriaDd
WDIV reports that people close to Kilpatrick confirmed he has been "placed in a 21-day quarantine in preparation for his release, and the family was hopeful he would get out June 10." But WDIV said the Justice Department has made "no definitive decision" on a so-called compassionate release over concerns about the deadly spread of the coronavirus.
Many inmates across the country have been released from prison and placed in home confinement to stem the spread of COVID-19. A 49-year-old inmate who was housed in the same prison as Kilpatrick died from the coronavirus.
Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in prison in October 2013 after he was convicted of two dozen federal charges, ranging from racketeering to extortion. He wasn’t eligible for parole until 2037.
Kilpatrick supporters have been calling for his release, saying his sentence was excessive. In February, state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo delivered a letter to Trump, asking him to grant clemency. Millionaire businessman Peter Karmanos has also lobbied for a pardon.
"No one is arguing the former mayor's guilt or innocence," Gay-Dagnogo said in an email to supporters. "What we're seeking (to have) 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."
A government analysis of prison sentences between 2012 and 2016 found that Black male offenders received sentences that were on average nearly 20 percent longer than similarly situated white men. Studies also show that white Republican judges hand down much longer sentences to Black men than other judges. The judge in the Kilpatrick case was a white woman appointed by George H.W. Bush.
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