Huffpost Crime

Former Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik Is Now A Diehard Prison Reformer

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BERNARD KERIK
Convicted former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik enters Bronx Supreme Court in New York Wednesday Oct. 17, 2012. The one-time protege of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is testifying as a government witness at the perjury trial of two contractor brothers who once remodeled his apartment. (AP Photo/David Karp) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

After spending time behind bars, a law and order Republican police commissioner has become a shrill voice amongst the growing calls for criminal justice reform.

Former New York City Police Commissioner and ex-con Bernard Kerik said prison does very little good for most inmates.

Kerik said he tells lawmakers that, for the most part, the longer someone spends in prison, "the worse they're going to be," according to the Crime Report.

Since spending more than three years in federal prison for various white collar crimes, Kerik said, he's changed his opinion about prisons and the role they should play in society.

Kerik was former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's police commissioner and was nominated by President George W. Bush to be the head of Homeland Security before his legal troubles forced him to resign.

He was speaking last week at a press conference announcing a new report that highlights the obstacles ex-cons face even after they're freed.

The Daily News compiles some of the report's most vivid examples:

A decorated veteran who is not yet a citizen can be deported for a misdemeanor drug conviction,” the report notes. “A mother supporting four children can never work in a bank because of a shoplifting arrest that was dismissed. A 75-year-old man with a public urination conviction in California can never live in public housing and will be on a public sex offense registry for the rest of his life.”

The findings, published by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, argues that more should be done to permanently cleanse ex-offender's records. The report argues that, among other things, released inmates should be allowed to vote and should not be discriminated against by potential employers.

"One recent study estimated that 65 million people — one in four adults in the United States — have a criminal record," the report says. "At the same time, the collateral consequences of conviction — specific legal restrictions, generalized discrimination and social stigma — have become more severe, more public and more permanent. These consequences affect virtually every aspect of human endeavor, including employment and licensing, housing, education, public benefits, credit and loans, immigration status, parental rights, interstate travel, and even volunteer opportunities."

For more of the report's proposals go here.

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