Apparently, the police state eats its own.
Bernie Kerik is one of New York City’s most famous former police commissioners. He began his career in 1986 as an NYPD officer walking the beat, worked undercover for the DEA, and ran the Rikers Island jail before becoming New York’s top cop under Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 2000. It was Kerik who led the city’s police department during the 9/11 attacks.
He is also one of the city’s most infamous former police commissioners. Kerik’s fall from grace began in 2004, when he was nominated by then–President George W. Bush to head the Department of Homeland Security. The subsequent vetting process turned out to be Kerik’s undoing, and in 2009, he pleaded guilty to eight felony charges including corruption, tax fraud, and lying to White House officials. He was sent to a minimum security prison in Cumberland, Maryland, where he served three years and 11 days. The experience, he says, changed him.
“No one with my experience, my background… has ever been inside,” Kerik told VICE News in a recent interview. “The one thing that a cop or a law enforcement executive doesn’t see and doesn’t understand is the destruction that the system causes to individuals, to families, to children.”
Kerik emerged from prison with a mission to get criminal justice reform on the national political agenda. He wrote a book, From Jailer to Jailed, detailing his unusual trajectory, and he now leads the American Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform, a nonprofit organization that, according to its website, advocates for “common sense, statistic-based initiatives that will transform our outdated criminal justice system.”