Jackson group helps former inmates adjust to everyday life

Oct 8, 2015

On Saturday in Jackson, former prison inmates will meet with concerned citizens and others to discuss reforms to America’s prison system. Current State’s Scott Pohl talks with Christine Peterson of the Jackson Area Civil Rights Awareness Association, and Hakim Crampton, who spent time in a Wisconsin prison before moving back to Jackson.


The U.S. Department of Justice has announced the early release of 6,000 prison inmates who have served lengthy sentences for drug crimes. What will become of them once they’re out a few weeks from now? A program in Jackson on Saturday may hint at what awaits them when they’re freed. It's called “Bridges to Justice.”

Prison has been a part of Jackson’s story since the Michigan State Prison opened there in 1839. On Saturday, the Jackson Area Civil Rights Awareness Association will conduct workshops on parole readiness and advocating for legislative action. Former inmates will be there to talk about their experiences both in and out of prison.

Current State’s Scott Pohl talks with the association’s Christine Peterson, and Hakim Crampton, who spent time in prison in Wisconsin.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

Hakim Crampton on being released on parole and returning to Jackson after being wrongly convicted of murder

 Immediately I went to the schools. I went to the juvenile homes and began sharing my story. I shared with kids what had happened to me. The fact that not only could something that happened to me happen to you, but aside from me being innocent, the normal facets of life that affected me could happen to them as well. And they could find themselves in the system whether guilty or not guilty. The moment upon my release I came straight back to Jackson right on the highway straight from Wisconsin Prison. 

What would you change about the juvenile and adult system?

The system has to begin listening to people that (have) been in the system, that have survived the system. I consider myself to be a person with a remedy to the crisis of incarceration, to the crisis of criminality. I consider myself to be a solution to that. It's going to take a governor, this state, to listen to people like myself.  We've learned a lot of information and we're capable of applying that information in a powerful way if we're given that chance. Instead, we're given that box of a felon and we're not even able to be employed when we get out, let alone apply some of these remedies and solutions to the crisis of incarceration.  

On the term "returned citizen." 

To me…you're citizens. You're returning to us and it's our obligation as a community to make that a welcome. And to help you reintegrate into the community that you want to live and work in. Most of the felons, returned citizens that we've come in contact with are serving the community, but they're blocked out of the schools.  For example, because the rule that you can’t have a felony and work with kids. But these people are going to the streets and working with kids where the kids are. They're doing amazing things and we just celebrate these lives that have reconstructed themselves with very little help.