We spoke with to Mr. Kerik about his work, his life, and how they have come to influence each other. Our conversation was edited for space and clarity.
How did you become involved in rights restoration issues?
Primarily from my personal experience and personal observations of the system. Since my investigation, my conviction, and incarceration, I got to witness not only what I’ve been through, but I know hundreds of other men have gone through the same thing and will go through the same thing. I know that they too will suffer the collateral cost of their conviction, which in my opinion is basically a life sentence.
Why do you think the right to vote is important?
Because it is a very small part of the way that you begin to become whole. Unfortunately, the system as it stands today never really gives you that opportunity to become whole, it never gives you the opportunity to start over. Your voting rights are a small piece of that. Unfortunately in some states, even today, people are still precluded from voting for a lifetime. It’s bizarre. The punishments in the criminal justice system are supposed to fit the crime—the reality is it does not. In many circumstances, the punishment is lifelong. To take someone’s voting rights away for a lifetime is just wrong, and what not what the system was designed for initially.