By Larry McShane / New York Daily News
His time behind bars convinced Bernard Kerik of one thing: Jail is a really bad place.
The disgraced ex-NYPD commissioner, in an interview aired Friday on the “Today” show, said his three years as a federal inmate turned him into a proponent of prison reform.
“You have to be on the other side of the bars,” said Kerik, who spent much of his once-distinguished career putting people in prison. “You have to see what it’s like to be a victim of the system, so to speak. There’s no way to do that from the other side.”
Kerik, 58, returned to his sprawling $1.2 million New Jersey home in late May after doing time as part of a plea deal in which he admitted eight felonies — including lying to the White House over his nomination to run the federal Homeland Security Department.
He also admitted lying about $255,000 in work done on his Bronx home by a mob-linked contractor and acknowledged filing false tax returns.
Kerik said stiff sentences for relatively minor drug offenses are creating a lost generation, specifically citing black inmates from the streets of Baltimore and Washington.
He questioned how anyone could believe those young men were “going to return to society a better person 10 years from now when you give them no life improvement skills when you give them no rehabilitation.”
“That is not benefiting society,” said Kerik, who ran the nation’s largest police department in 2000-01. “The system is supposed to help them not destroy them.”
— while bizarrely noting that no other person with his law enforcement credentials ever landed in federal prison — said more people would share his sentiments if they were locked up.
“If the American people and members of Congress saw what I saw, there would be anger, there would be outrage, and there would be change because nobody would stand for it,” he said.
(First published by New York Daily News and used here by permission)