Should Kwame Kilpatrick Be Released From Prison Due To Coronavirus?

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Photo credit Outgoing Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick gives a televised speech about his administration's accomplishments and his family's personal morale after pleading guilty to two felony counts of obstructing justice by committing perjury at the Coleman A. Young Building in Detroit, Michigan, on Thursday, September 4, 2008. (Photo by Amy Leang/Detroit Free Press/MCT/Sipa USA)

(WWJ) Should former Kwame Kilpatrick be released from prison because of the coronavirus?

WWJ's Vickie Thomas reports there are renewed calls to set the imprisoned former Detroit mayor free due to the pandemic.

Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon is weighing in on that question as officials say prisons, where it's virtually impossible to practice social distancing, are a breeding grounds for the virus.

"Certainly, the former mayor did something that he should not have done," Napolean said. "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?" the sheriff said.

"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 was sentenced to 28 years behind bars, convicted in 2013 on 24 felony counts of public corruption for a criminal racket involving extortion, bribery, conspiracy and fraud. Prosecutors said he used his positions as a state representative and then mayor to enrich himself and his friends. 

But, as he was not convicted of a violent crime, Napoleon told Thomas he believes Kilpatrick is among convicts who have been "over-incarcerated." 

What would he suggest to prison officials? "I think they should look at it and see if he qualifies," Napoleon said. 

As for if the 49-year-old Kilpatrick would be held under house arrest or where he would go if he were released is not known. 

Michigan state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo in February delivered a letter to President Donald Trump from Detroit leaders seeking clemency for Kilpatrick. Millionaire businessman Peter Karmanos has lobbied for a Kilpatrick pardon from Trump, while current Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan also expressed support. 

The Detroit News reported last week that a fellow inmate of Kilpatrick's died on April 25 after testing positive for the coronavirus. Patrick Jones, 49, was serving a 27-year sentence for a drug crime when he became ill at the federal prison in Oakdale, Louisiana.

Kilpatrick was transferred to the low-security prison, northwest of New Orleans, from a New Jersey facility last December.

As of today, Kilpatrick is not expected to be paroled until 2037.