The request came Thursday at a White House celebration marking Black History Month. Michigan state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo handed a letter to the president, signed by Kilpatrick’s supporters, asking that Kilpatrick be spared from serving his full time behind bars.
Gay-Dagnogo claims Kilpatrick’s sentence was excessively harsh, likely because of racial bias.
“It’s not just about race, it’s about grace, it is about mercy, it is about second chances,” she told Detroit’s FOX 2 in a telephone interview. “We need to have an overhaul of our entire justice system.”
The crimes for which Kilpatrick was locked up included extortion, bribery, conspiracy and fraud, according to The Detroit News.
Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick sits at his sentencing in Wayne County Circuit Court on an obstruction-of-justice conviction, May 25, 2010. (Associated Press).
Current Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, also a Democrat, told the newspaper he hopes Kilpatrick someday “gets a chance” to contribute to the community, but stopped short of calling on Trump to intervene.
“I have a hard time being objective,” Duggan told reporters after a news conference this week, according to the News. “I have known Kwame since he was in high school and was a big part of supporting everything he did in his career.
“He is an enormously talented person,” Duggan added, “and I think that talent could do a lot of good in the community. It’s not my place to tell the president what to do, and it wouldn’t be helpful if I did. But I think Kwame Kilpatrick still has a lot to contribute, and I hope he gets a chance.”
U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider, however, said he believes Kilpatrick’s 28-year sentence was appropriate for the offenses on which he was convicted.
“Mr. Kilpatrick received a fair and just sentence,” Schneider told FOX 2. “And also he has only served one-quarter of his sentence — that’s it. He also did tremendous [harm] to the city and so we are opposed to having Mr. Kilpatrick back out on the street.”
The request on behalf of Kilpatrick came less than two weeks after Trump granted pardons or sentence commutations to a number of figures, including former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat who was convicted for attempting to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat when he was elected president, and Bernard Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner who was sentenced on tax fraud charges in 2010.
Kilpatrick requested clemency from Trump himself in 2018, filing a request with the Justice Department and making an appeal on Facebook, the Detroit Free Press reported.
He also appealed to former President Barack Obama but was denied, the newspaper reported.
If Kilpatrick fails to win Trump’s backing, the soonest he can hope to be freed will be 2037, the report said.